Sometimes, it feels like I had more freedom in high school. And by that, I mean I had a car. UCLA is literally in the middle of Los Angeles, yet I find myself forgetting that because I spend so much time on campus and in the little, picturesque Westwood bubble. Usually, Westwood and campus are enough, but every once in a while, I am plagued by the realization that I am not fully using the resources and opportunities available to me, given the prime location of the UCLA campus. Stranded on campus without a car, my friends and I get to scheming methods of escape.
One of my favorite field trips from UCLA turned out to be just a bus ride away. With Uber prices soaring, the bus is a super cheap and fun option, especially with a group of friends. Intending to go to Santa Monica but ending up on the wrong bus, my friends and I landed on Will Rogers State Beach last year. It’s about a 20-minute bus ride from campus and significantly cleaner and less crowded than Santa Monica. Plus, it took less than $5 to get there and back. That said, Santa Monica is also a great option and is only a bus ride away. Not only are the shopping and dining options great, but the pier is a must-see. I definitely recommend this vegan Ethiopian restaurant if you decide to visit. Incredible tacos.
The Troubador, an iconic LA live music venue, is also super easy to get to by bus. As a total classic rock nerd (Elton John, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, among others, performed there), visiting the venue was on my Los Angeles bucket list, and all it took was a 20-minute bus ride. My roomie is super into sea shanties, so we saw The Longest Johns perform, and it was one of the highlights of my UCLA experience so far. The venue is super intimate and tiny, and the decor is unmatched. We were in the pit, right in front of the stage and got to meet the band in the bar area right after the show.
If you’d rather Uber than take the bus (on a college student budget, of course), the Getty is just a quick trip away and an LA staple. They literally have Van Gogh’s Irises. Century City mall is also a less than 10-minute drive without too much traffic; it’s both beautiful and has tons of great stores. I love going around Christmas time for all of the gorgeous decorations.
Moral of the story: don’t be too bummed that you don’t have a car. There are ways to get around and see LA on a budget without one. Whether it’s via Uber, a bus or even the train, you can emerge from the Westwood bubble.