Looking for some fun, free things to do around USC? Look no further! The University of Southern California is located in the heart of Los Angeles, the cultural capital of the West Coast. There’s never a dull moment in this city and you don’t have to break the bank to be a part of it. Here’s a list of 10 free things to do around USC!
1. Visit The California Science Center
Located in Exposition Park and just a short walk from USC campus, the California Science Center is your destination to unleash your inner nerd. It features hands-on science exhibits, live demonstrations and shows, and educational galleries! Best of all, admission is free to all permanent exhibit galleries!
2. Hike To The Iconic Hollywood Sign
Located on Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains, this infamous sign represents the glamour and glory that is Hollywood. There are a handful of hiking trails that will take you to the 45-foot tall white letters, and some are more difficult than others. The three main trails to the Hollywood sign are the Brush Canyon Trial, Wonder View Trail, and Hollyridge Trail. Hiking is one of my favorite free things to do and with the Southern California climate we are able to hike year-round!
3. Explore Griffith Observatory
Also located in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory is home to the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, but the fun doesn’t stop there! They also offer public telescopes, multiple unique exhibits to explore, a place to eat called The Café at the End of the Universe by Wolfgang Puck, and a book/gift shop. It’s also a great place to take in the beautiful views of the city of Los Angeles. Admission is always free, but keep in mind it’s closed on Mondays.
4. Browse The Last Bookstore
Haven’t you heard? Reading is cool again. Whether you’re a book lover or not, you have to check out The Last Bookstore. Resting in the center of DTLA is Los Angeles’s largest independent new and used bookstore, but it’s so much more than that. The store has two levels of books to browse plus a few art shops on the top floor and even a book tunnel! I could spend days there. It’s only a 15-minute drive from campus and you won’t regret it!
5. Stop By The Getty Center
There are so many awesome art museums in Los Angeles, but most of them cost money. At the Getty Center, admission is always free (aside from a $15 parking fee). The Getty Center sits high up on a hill, so the views are incredible. You’ll find some of the most beautiful gardens you’ve ever seen along with art exhibitions that regularly change, and stunning architecture.
6. Relax At Malibu Lagoon State Beach
The Malibu Lagoon State Beach is a hidden gem in this list of free things to do. Malibu Lagoon State beach is where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. The Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach are all within half a mile of each other, so there’s lots to do! It’s the perfect place for leisurely beach activities such a sunbathing, walking, and tide-pooling. Alongside the white, sandy beach is a peaceful wetland featuring dirt pathways for strolling and birdwatching.
7. Cruise Mulholland Drive
If you’re looking to clear your head with a scenic drive, then this one’s for you! Hop in the car, roll the windows down, and head to Mulholland drive. Enjoy 11 miles of curves and twists through the Hollywood Hills with scenic overlook stops along the way. This is a great way to slip away from the USC bubble and gain a little perspective.
8. Walk Around The Arts District
Minutes from USC campus, on the eastern edge of DTLA is a neighborhood known as the Arts District. A collection of old warehouses and factories have been converted into some of the best restaurants and bars, fancy coffee shops, trendy art galleries, and much more. Throughout the converted warehouses are beautiful murals that make popular Instagram photo spots.
9. Head Over To Downtown Santa Monica & 3rd Street Promenade
3rd Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica is a wonderful place to window shop or indulge in some retail therapy. 3rd Street Promenade is a huge open-air shopping mall with a variety of low-end and high-end stores as well as any type of food you can imagine. The mall is just steps away from the beach and from the Santa Monica Pier, so you can make a whole day of it!
10. Have A Picnic At A Local Park
There are tons of lovely parks around the USC campus including Exposition Park Rose Garden, Echo Park Lake, Grand Park, and Vista Hermosa Park. The closest park to USC is Exposition Park Rose Garden. It’s right on the other side of Exposition Boulevard from campus. It’s a gorgeous garden with plenty of picnic tables and benches to take a break and relax.