Tag Archives: ocean

LA’s Top 5 Touristy Spots

By Connor Brown

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Popularity is an interesting concept. Some people see popular things as good, assuming that if many people enjoy something, it must have value. Others see popular things as bad, assuming that if a ton of people like something, it must be “basic” or overhyped. Los Angeles is home to both opinions, and as a capital of both trends and hipsters, the nuance between these two stances emerges. Many of the most popular, touristy things to do in Los Angeles are fun, others not as much. From my experience as an Angeleno, here are the five best touristy things to do in Los Angeles — all popular, pleasant, and picturesque!

Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash

1. Santa Monica

First on our list is arguably LA’s most famous beach, the iconic Santa Monica, brimming with sight seers, seagulls, and sunshine. Santa Monica is a fairly large city within LA, and offers more than just an endless, wide beach. The boardwalk is a popular tourist attraction, and while it’s not my personal favorite, many enjoy it. The Promenade along Third Street is a great shopping center, and the surrounding area is full of intriguing stores and sights. Ocean Avenue offers a great walking path, and leads right into the iconic Pacific Palisades. Best of all, Santa Monica is easily accessible via public transit, as the Metro Expo Line ends in the heart of downtown Santa Monica, blocks from both the beach and the Promenade.

2. Griffith Park

My personal favorite on this list, Griffith Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who’s been to LA. The park itself is massive, covering a large swath of the LA hills, and includes a number of great hiking paths. It is also home to one of LA’s most famous landmarks, the Griffith Observatory. If you go to the Observatory on a clear night, you can see the most spectacular views of the city. While the view is the main attraction, the Observatory is a destination in and of itself, offering fun astronomical and scientific displays, planetarium shows, and telescope viewing opportunities!

Photo by Lydia Koh on Unsplash

3. Downtown Art Museums

One of the best aspects of USC, in my opinion, is its proximity to downtown Los Angeles. Downtown LA is an enigma — there are times when it is bustling, with restaurants overflowing, rooftops full, and clubs thumping, and times when it is so empty you expect to see a tumbleweed roll across the street (Sunday afternoons). The one constant is the tranquility of the art museums. I find few things to be more relaxing than wandering around a quiet, curated space dedicated to the great artists of our time, being able to just pause and stare at some often-unintelligible expression of the human spirit. The Broad and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) are two of the best modern art museums in the country, and are barely two miles from campus. Hop in a bus, Lyft, Metro, or Bird scooter, head up Figueroa and unwind in the sterile vibrance of a modern art museum.

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Summer at Sea

By Greg Lennon

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4 minute read]

Each summer, members of the US Navy ROTC program are required to participate in summer training.  The nature of this training depends on the class standing of the student, or “midshipman” as we’re ranked in the Navy.  Last summer, I spent a month in San Diego with my peers learning the ins and outs of the Navy as an ROTC member.  This summer, I would get a more hands on experience: living on a ship for over six weeks.

I was assigned to be living and working on the USS Shoup, a Destroyer that would be operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for the summer.  Our orders were to first embark on a week-long period at sea called PACDRAGON where we would be doing joint Naval exercises with the Japanese and Korean Navies.  Then, we would enjoy two weeks in port at Pearl Harbor before returning to sea for 24 days for the international exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Joining me on the ship were five other midshipmen from universities across the country, including one of my classmates from USC.  While on the ship, we were assigned “running mates,” crewmembers who we would shadow to get an immersive experience in regard to ship life.  My running mate was a technician for the ship’s radar systems, an unbelievably demanding job.  Because my running mate had such a technical job, I was free to roam the ship for much of the day (usually after finishing a morning’s hard work).  Every day on the ship starts at 6:00 AM, with a morning wake up call song played over the ship’s intercom.  After an early breakfast, each division on board the ship holds its daily meeting, followed by mandated cleaning.  Since I had no real responsibilities onboard, I was released after cleaning to work out, unless my running mate had other plans for me.  Afterward, the ship’s crew convenes for lunch, and then back to work.  Every day at sea holds something different; each day we would partake in a different exercise, whether it be testing weapons systems, meeting up with members of foreign navies, or refueling at sea.  After dinner, we were released to our living spaces to relax for the evening.  Most of our nights on board were spent rewatching movies, playing cards, or getting extra sleep before the next day’s early start.

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Summer in Cancún, Mexico

By Jasmine Espindola

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

One of the most memorable places I have ever traveled to was Cancún, Mexico. It is really upsetting that many people only talk about the more negative aspects of traveling in Mexico and completely overlook the beautiful and amazing places it has to offer.  Cancún is a touristic city in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico known for its beaches, but it has so much more to offer than conventional tourist destinations, including a vibrant culture and amazing food.

Photo by Gerson Repreza on Unsplash

I took this trip the summer after high school and it was the first time I’d ever been on a plane. I was nervous, but upon landing I was amazed at the beautiful landscape and scenery in front of me. After we checked into our hotel we walked out to the beach and I couldn’t believe the color of the water. It was all different shades of blue and surprisingly warm, which was different from the usually cold Pacific Ocean water I was used to.

We eventually went on a cruise to an island off the coast called “Isla Mujeres” which was amazing. The middle of the ocean looked like a pool because you could see the ocean floor and all of the fish and marine life. It was definitely a unique experience to be able to jump into the middle of the ocean near the reefs and have a ton of fish swimming around your legs without the fear of sharks approaching since the water was so clear.

Photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash

After a few days exploring the different beaches, we decided to take a trip to Yucatán, a neighboring state to Quintana Roo, to visit the Mayan temples of Chichén Itzá. On our way there we stopped at a cenote. A cenote is (as defined by dictionary.com ), a “deep natural well or sinkhole, especially in Central America, formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater underneath, and sometimes used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial offerings.” I hadn’t ever even heard of these rock formations, but apparently, they are all over Central America and southern Mexico, especially prevalent on the Yucatán peninsula. The rock and cave formations were jaw-dropping and it was fascinating to learn about all the things they found there during the excavations from the Mayan Period.

After a quick dip in the water, we were on our way again to the famous Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá is one of the 7 wonders of the world and was built by the Mayans around 600AD, a time where they didn’t even have wheels. It was one of the most amazing experiences being next to this wonder and having a small view into the past. I also got to see the place where they would put the decapitated heads of their enemies in the first century AD and their place of recreation. The Mayan ruins are one of the most beautiful things I have seen to this day.

Photo by Carlos Nakazato on Unsplash
Continue reading Summer in Cancún, Mexico