Medical students stay busy throughout their time at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, but on the occasional day off, it's fun to check out hot spots in Los Angeles and southern California. And when it comes to day trips from Los Angeles, students have a wealth of options. Here are a few ideas for relaxing day trips that fit within a student's budget.
Students who want to stay local can check out Venice Beach, Manhattan State Beach or Hermosa Beach. Santa Monica, with its famous pier and rides, is another must-see attraction for LA visitors. However, Santa Monica can get a little expensive as the cost of parking, tickets for rides, food and admission to the aquarium can add up.
Beyond Los Angeles, southern California boasts numerous beautiful beaches. An affordable, stress-free way to explore these beaches is to skip the highway traffic and get a ticket on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train. Hop on at Los Angeles Union Station and (for about $40) head south to spend the day in San Diego. Travelers can also head north as far as San Luis Obispo. Students who can't wait to feel the sand between their toes can take the Surfliner to San Clemente; the station is right at the San Clemente pier, just steps away from the beach. The Pacific Surfliner offers multiple trips every day.
About an hour's drive away, students can visit Malibu. There, beach lovers can sunbathe or surf, and nature lovers can check out Malibu Creek State Park or Point Dume Nature Preserve. Malibu also has museums and local attractions to tour as well. Students looking to enjoy a long road trip can take a ride up Mulholland Highway from Malibu and enjoy the iconic views.
Mountains and stargazing
Some people prefer the mountains to the beach, and Los Angeles has plenty of hiking and sightseeing options. Just a short drive outside of LA, Mount Wilson boasts beautiful views and cooler temperatures. Nighttime visitors can stop at the observatory to look through the same telescopes astronomers Edwin Hubble and Harlow Shapley once used to view the stars.
Griffith Observatory, and the surrounding Griffith Park, is another great getaway for students on a budget. Parking is free anywhere in the park, as is admission to the observatory. Planetarium shows have a small fee of $5 for students. From outside the observatory, visitors can view the LA skyline and spot the Hollywood sign. Stargazers can enjoy the museum exhibits inside, and those who prefer the great outdoors can hike the network of trails in the park.
Arts and culture
For quiet escapes, students can check out local museums. The Getty Center and Getty Villa both boast unique art collections and beautiful architecture. The Getty Villa is a smaller, more intimate museum with quiet gardens. Admission to both centers is free; parking costs $15, but visitors can pay once and park at both museums on the same day.
The Huntington is another retreat for students interested in arts and culture. The museum houses a large rare books collection and artwork, and the grounds contain stunning botanical gardens. For a real treat, enjoy tea and scones in the Rose Garden Tea Room. The Huntington does charge admission, but free admission is available on the first Thursday of every month with advance reservations.
The options for day trips from Los Angeles are seemingly endless. The area offers adventures for everyone, on every budget. With fantastic beaches, shops, mountains, museums and restaurants to choose from, students will never run out of things to do on a day off.
By Patricia Chaney
Photo Credit: Matt Evans, Flickr