Category Archives: Sight Seeing

5 Great Places to go if You Love Nature but not Hiking

By Stephanie Wicburg

I personally am someone who loves nature. Whether it be pristine rose bushes or a nice area of grass, I love seeing the color green in my environment. However, unlike most people, while I enjoy nature, I don’t typically enjoy hiking. Therefore, if you’re like me, and want to enjoy nature without all the extra effort, check out these 5 places around Los Angeles which give you both the beauty of nature and peace of mind.

1. Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

Photo by InSapphoWeTrust on Flickr

At this amazing hidden beauty, take the opportunity to visit yourself. You can unwind your mind walking the labyrinth, reflect in the meditation gardens, and tour the historic mansion. Given all the stress we face as students with midterms, papers, and finals, the Tranquility Garden lets you tap into the peace that nature presents and leave recharged! 

2. Kyoto Gardens (Double Tree by Hilton)

Photo by Maggie Mbroh on Flickr

The idyllic Kyoto Gardens are located in Little Tokyo, and features a lush sanctuary on its rooftop. Spanning a half-acre of manicured greenery, cascading waterfalls and tranquil ponds, the garden is a meticulous recreation of an ancient Japanese Garden in Tokyo that was originally established for the 16th century samurai lord Kiyomasa Kato. One of L.A.’s most popular event and wedding venues, Kyoto Gardens also features the outdoor Upper and Lower Terraces, as well as the Thousand Cranes room, which boasts stunning views of the garden and skyline. A beautiful place to go and enjoy both the city and nature.

3. Huntington Gardens

Photo by SmartDestinations on Flickr

The Huntington Library and Gardens is one of my personal favorites. The Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library feature thirteen stunning themed gardens just outside Pasadena. The gardens include rare and exotic plants from around the world as well as California natives. You can easily spend all day in any one of the themed areas, such as the Japanese Garden or the Rose Garden. 

4. The Japanese Garden – Suiho En

Photo by timwinter79 on Flickr

Suiho En (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) is a 6.5-acre authentic Japanese garden fashioned after “stroll gardens” constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese Feudal lords. This San Fernando Valley hidden gem was created by Dr. Koichi Kawana to provide beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of Japanese culture using reclaimed water. A stunning place to go for tranquility and to enjoy the beauties of nature.

 5. The Getty Villa and the Getty Center

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The manicured gardens at the Getty Center campus feature zigzagging walkways, a stone waterfall, and a floating maze of azaleas are surrounded by a variety of seasonal plants. However, I personally prefer the Getty Villa, which has gardens that are both beautiful and functional modeled after what existed in ancient Roman villas. The villa has four gardens that serve to blend Roman architecture with the open space planted with 300 varieties of Mediterranean plants. Stroll the gardens at either location at your leisure or take a guided tour.

Featured image by SmartDestinations on Flickr

Stephanie is a junior studying International Relations Global Business, and is a member of Thematic Options. She is from San Diego, California, and enjoys music of a large variety, reading, and watching various TV shows. Stephanie has always had an interest in languages and cultures, and is slowly learning Korean and Japanese.  Stephanie thoroughly enjoys traveling, and looks forward to opportunities to travel abroad later in her educational career.  She loves talking to people and learning about other people’s backgrounds as well as discussing a wide variety of topics.

USC is Your Oyster

By Hamza Mirza

As international students, we are always worried about not fitting in, not finding the right group of friends and all the other concerns that come with being far away from home. I’m from Pakistan –a country that is a 21 hour journey, and sometimes more, by plane. Many of you who live in Asia or South Asia would understand how difficult and expensive it is to make that journey. But one thing that has really helped me adjust to this new environment is trying to find interesting ways to find your place at the University of Southern California (USC).

I am going to use this blog to tell you what you can do to make yourself at home in this beautiful city. You should always know that you are never going to be alone. As per Fall 2018, there were 11,308 international students enrolled at USC and they’re all in the same boat as you and me. We all miss the food at home, we miss being with our families and celebrating exciting holidays like Thanksgiving or the Chinese New Year and we miss our friends that we have grown up with. So my first tip to you is to keep an open mind, put a brave face on and take this as a challenge. While doing this, it is important that you be yourself.

You will find people who will be in awe of your diversity and they’ll be curious about your culture and your life back home, you will find people who you gel with perfectly and also some who you won’t gel with at all. But you’ll only really find a close group of friends if you put yourself out there.

Continue reading USC is Your Oyster

Top 5 Southern California Hikes

By Gabrielle Kimche-Gilstrap

Sometimes after spending so much time at or near USC (whether in class, at clubs, or even living in a dorm), it is nice to get off campus and explore outside of South Central. When thinking of California, celebrities, the beach, or even the Hollywood Walk of Fame may come to mind for most people, but outdoor hiking and nature trails are common and a fantastic attraction. Around LA, there are hiking trails in the city, North, and South. Most are dog friendly, feature crafted hiking trails with maps, and even offer parking. One important aspect to consider when visited these parks and trails is the risk and past occurrences of wildfires. Remember to always leave nature better than how you found it! I have listed my top sites 5 below:

Runyon Canyon

Photo by Chris Goldberg on Flickr

Located in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon is a fairly known hike and trail around Los Angeles. Often, you may see the beautiful view of Hollywood posted on Instagram or Facebook tagged at Runyon. People commonly known Runyon as a place to bring dogs, spot celebrities, and see a full skyline. Many dog owners take their pets to Runyon for the off-leash areas. This trail is not very long, as it only extends around 3 miles round trip, but it is still a challenge especially in the summer Southern California heat. Since it is so popular, parking can be a challenge and Uber is recommended, but there is one lot and street parking around the entrance.

Solstice Canyon

Photo by Juan Monroy on Flickr

Solstice Canyon is located near Malibu just West of Los Angeles, so it works best to drive instead of paying for an expensive Uber. Aside from the 2.6 mile round trip hike, Solstice Canyon also features historical ruins and a waterfall. Also, along the Solstice Creek there are picnic tables for a nice outdoor lunch. When passing the ruins, you should see the Roberts Ranch House, which is now protected by the National Parks Service. Next on the trail, you’ll spot a short waterfall down the rocks into the creek. It’s a beautiful sight!

Cahuenga Park

Photo by Michael McCarty on Flickr

Another park in the Hollywood Hills is Cahuenga Park, which leads to a view of the Hollywood Sign and the Wisdom Tree. Again here, there is not much parking except street parking around the bottom. Heading up the East trail, there is a 1.6 mile round trip hike to the Wisdom Tree. This trail is more rugged and less paved than Runyon Canyon, and it gets steep at points. To the West, the trail gets even steeper and more rugged, but eventually leads to the back side of the Hollywood Sign. Both of these trails offer a large amount of elevation for a short distance. 

Santa Anita Canyon

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The most challenging hike on this list, the Santa Anita Canyon, is a whopping 8.7 mile loop, best made for a full day hike with lunch and swimming stops. The Santa Anita Canyon is located Northeast of Pasadena, so it is again best to drive and park in the lots or along the street below. Along this trail, there are numerous cabins, a 60-foot waterfall, and an escape from Los Angeles. The waterfall is comes up in the first half of the trail, so you can jump in then dry off the rest of the way. 

Sandstone Peak

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Sandstone Peak is the furthest hike to the East, past Santa Monica and Malibu but is one of the highest points in Southern California. You can see jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Bay. The summit is over 3,000 feet and follows a 6.25 mile loop. This hike features another picnic area and plenty of shade on the way up. Another beautiful aspect are the Grottoes with creeks and pools.

Featured image by Lital Levy on Unsplash


Gabi is a Pre-Law sophomore majoring in Law, History, and Culture in Dornsife with a minor in Culture, Media, and Entertainment from Annenberg. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia before fulfilling her dream of moving to Los Angeles for college. On the weekends, Gabi loves to go to the beach, visit museums, go shopping, watch movies, hike, read, work out, do yoga, and spend time with friends. Back home, Gabi has one younger sister, who she is very close with and for whom she acts as a role model and mentor. In high school, Gabi worked with many international exchange students through an organization called ICES. She loves traveling, meeting new people, and learning about other cultures.