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Los Angeles is such a beautiful city — where else could you get the ocean, mountains, and the desert all within driving distance of an urban environment? While many students don’t have cars on campus, myself included, there are still so many places I’ve been to either via Metro or rideshare. There’s something in this magical city for everyone. As a USC student, you get a free, unlimited TAP card that gets you on all of the buses and Metro lines for free!

Venice Canals

Like its Italian namesake, houses in this neighborhood on Westside are built upon canals in lieu of streets. But fear not — even if you don’t have a water-operable vehicle, sidewalks line the canals for those on foot. It’s beautiful both sunny and cloudy.

Despite being only mere blocks from Venice Beach — which you can visit as well while you’re by the canals — it’s very quiet. Living there would be so fun! It’s almost unbelievable that we live in the same city as people there. That’s how different the atmosphere is.

You can reach the canals either via rideshare or a bus from pretty much all of the Westside Metro stations on the E Line, including Santa Monica.

Manhattan Beach

Although it’s a little bit farther from campus than some of the other popular beaches in LA, Manhattan Beach is absolutely picturesque. It has every part of the LA beach vibe, but there are also so many quaint places for food, books, and other fun things. There’s even an aquarium on the pier that’s free to visit. Even if you have work to do, it’s a great spot to be. Just bring a beach towel and your homework. Soak in the sunshine!

I went with my roommate, a suitemate, and a friend, which made splitting the Uber pretty inexpensive. None of us had ever been before, and we all thought it was maybe even better than the beaches slightly further north.

It’s a bit of a shame that it’s hard to reach via public transportation, but it also gives off less of a touristy vibe. You win some, you lose some. It’s worth it in the end, though!

Griffith Observatory

Fans of “La La Land” will find the ride up the mountain at dusk just like the images we see in the movie. At night, the lights of the city sparkle almost endlessly, and at day, you can see almost the whole city in its grandeur. The Hollywood sign is just right there if you’ve never seen it up close! My dad and I jumped up and down like little kids seeing snow for the first time when we saw it.

The last time I went, I Uber’d up to the observatory and took the bus back down to the Vermont / Sunset station on the B Line. It’s one of the most accessible places from USC that I love bringing visitors to!

Bradbury Building

My faculty-in-residence brought me to this relatively lesser-known place in Downtown LA. It’s a gorgeous building across the street from Grand Central Market with some of the coolest elevators I’ve ever seen.

While many students on campus will say that DTLA is an acquired taste, I love the variety of things that I can do there. From shopping at bakeries to eating at awesome (and cheap!) restaurants and reaching just about every other place in LA, the best part is probably being able to hit all of these spots in under a couple hours. 7th Street / Metro Center is just a few stops away on the E Line.

Eaton Canyon Falls

My dad and I went over Fall Break, when the weather was finally cool enough to go on a hike without sweating buckets. At home, I go on hikes a lot, so it was really interesting to see the LA landscape during one of my first hikes ever in Southern California. We started out with a more desert-like walk, and it gradually turned more and more green as we hiked up the mountain. It’s not a long trek — probably around an hour and a half total — so I’d highly recommend it!

After you’re done hiking, there are so many good restaurants in the Pasadena area that you can check out. It’s easier to get here via car, whether it’s your own or via rideshare, but parking isn’t a hassle at all.

Anna Hsu

MAJOR: Computer Engineering and Computer Science YEAR: Class of 2026 HOMETOWN: Vienna, virginia PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @annaa.hsu At USC, I'm a part of HackSC, the flagship hackathon on campus, and I write stories about research, accomplishments, and events occurring in the Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science. I also lead copy editing efforts for College Brief, a nonprofit dedicated to instilling greater news engagement in college-aged audiences. In my spare time, you can find me listening to Mandopop, eating good food in LA + beyond, and going on runs!