Tag Archives: hiking

Exploring California National Parks

By Minah Ha

[2 ½ minute read]

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

Growing up in Southern California, I was privileged enough to be driving distance away from many popular national parks. Every winter and summer break, my family would take a trip to a new national park. During the winter, we would stay in hotels or motels and explore the parks during the day and during the summer we would go camping. Camping and exploring national parks is a fun activity for families or friend groups to take part in over a long weekend or vacation, so here are my top three national park choices that I highly suggest you visit while you’re in California!

1. Yosemite National Park

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

This is one of the most popular national parks in California. It boasts beautiful mountains and waterfalls. The campsites in Yosemite fill up fast, so the best time to book them is in February or March if you want to camp around June. The best place to camp within Yosemite is in Yosemite Village because of its proximity to the best hiking trails and sightseeing locations. Some of their most beautiful hiking trails are the Vernal and Nevada Falls trails. These trails take you to a beautiful spot where you can get very close to the waterfall and if you go earlier in the summer, you will get soaked by the waterfall. The park is very family-friendly and has hiking trails suited for younger children. 

2. Sequoia National Park

Photo by Jorn van Til on Unsplash

Sequoia National Park is known for its gigantic trees. The biggest one yet is called the General Sherman Tree and it’s something that must be visited if you end up going to Sequoia. The park is about 3 to 4 hours away from  Los Angeles. This place is also best to visit during the
months of May to June because the weather is perfect for hiking. Sequoia is also home to various wildlife species and you might be able to see some bears and deer! If you want to get more done while you’re up there, Sequoia is also only an hour and a half away from Kings Canyon National Park, a park with mountains and waterfalls that are beautiful to visit at sunset.

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.

LA Fitness on a Budget

By Alicia Roman

Everyone knows that living in LA can cost a small fortune. However, staying active in LA doesn’t have to be expensive. With 365 days of sunshine, there are endless opportunities to stay active without spending more than a few dollars. Many people believe you have to be confined to the crowded campus gym, but with the following options just a short train/car ride away you’ll be looking at your workout regime with new energy and enthusiasm!

Hiking is a great way to explore a new area while also getting in some exercise. There are several hiking trails within a 20-minute drive from the USC campus. Take a trip to the Hollywood Hills at sunset and hike the 3.5 miles up to Wisdom Tree. This hike offers beautiful views of the Hollywood Reservoir and Downtown LA. Another option is to take a train to Los Feliz and visit the stunning Griffith Observatory. Most people will drive up to the Observatory, but an even better option is to hike to the top. It’s a quick and easy 40-minute hike from Fern Dell Dr. to the Griffith Observatory. Once at the top, you are rewarded with one of LA’s best views.

Photo by daveynin on Flickr

If you aren’t a big fan of hiking but enjoy the water, take advantage of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl has countless options and it’s free of busy and overcrowded streets. Take a jog around the Rose Bowl, known to locals as the “Rose Bowl Loop”. You can stop by the Aquatics Center and take a $2.00 swim in their olympic size pool. If you’re not looking to swim or run, you can enjoy a nice bike ride around the complex. The Rose Bowl is a great option for those who need variety but aren’t looking to spend a lot on a gym membership.

Most people love going to the beach to relax and enjoy the weather. The beach can also be a great place to get in a weekend workout. Santa Monica Beach is only a short train ride from the USC campus. The beach can also be a nice place to workout when the weather’s too hot to be indoors. Santa Monica has several options for fitness and fun. Take a long walk along the beach or bring along a workout video from your phone and try it out on the sand. It will definitely add an element of difficulty to your regular workout. If you’re feel really adventurous you can visit the outdoor gym which is literally right on the sand! The best part of a beach workout is when you’re finished, you can take a refreshing dip in the ocean water!

With so many options around USC, you never have to feel like the gym is your only option. Sometimes, doing something different can remind you why you love exercising. Grab your suit and head to the beach or slip on your tennis shoes and go for a hike! You’ll be able to check out your new LA neighborhood with all the added health benefits.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Alicia has a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Clark University. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Educational Counseling within Rossier School of Education. She has spent several years working in the field of Education. She spent three years living and teaching ESL in Taipei, Taiwan. She also coaches a special needs swim team at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena. When she is not working, she loves reading, traveling, watching movies, and exercising.