Living far away from friends is awful, but when planning trips, I recommend taking full advantage of them. When my best friend and eternal travel buddy Gracie committed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (LA), I knew at some point I would have to visit her there. Last weekend, I finally did.
I had never been to LA before, but one thing I learned about the city right away is that getting anywhere is unbelievably difficult and expensive. After LA, I will never complain about Boston’s five cent subway fare hike ever again. Luckily, there was lots to do in and around campus. If you’re as stingy with your Ubers as I am, check out my comprehensive college tour of LMU.
THE CAMPUS MADE ME CRY
As I mentioned in my college tour of Boston University, BU’s campus is beautiful, but it is also A.) situated between two car-clogged major roads, and B.) freezing for six months of the year.
Loyola Marymount’s campus is neither of those things and more. Unlike BU, LMU is in Westchester, a neighborhood set off from the rest of the city. The school is also on top of a bluff. Standing on its edge, students have an incredible view that stretches through the city all the way to the ocean.
Everything was a contrast to what I was used to in Boston. The campus was so quiet. No cars threatened my life. On my last morning in LA, I sat on a table in front of a classroom building, eating a blueberry muffin and reading a book. Palm trees swayed nearby. It was over 80 degrees in LA that day—back home, they were about to turn on the heat in my building. I’m still trying not to die of jealousy.
DROWN ME IN BOBA
I had high expectations for food on this trip, and Gracie, a girl raised by aggressive foodies, did not disappoint. On campus, there was the Lion’s Den, a student-run coffee shop and one of thousands of references to LMU’s lion mascot. I had a green tea freeze, which was basically a matcha slushie with whipped cream. 100% delicious.
The other great food options nearby are off campus, but still within walking distance—a rarity in LA, it seems. My favorite off-campus stop was KC’s Crepes Café on Lincoln Boulevard.KC’s has a huge selection of crepes: sweet and savory, hot or cold. They’re also designed to be eaten with your hands. Each crepe comes folded into a paper cone, so forget about chasing mushy pieces of batter with a fork and knife. You can also pair your crepe with a cup of boba tea. I chose the Thai tea, which was bright orange and was so sugary it tasted like melted candy corn. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Even closer to campus is Benny’s Tacos on West Manchester Avenue. I asked for enormous amounts of Mexican food, and that is what I got. I ordered the California burrito, filled to bursting with tasty stuff like chipotle chicken, guacamole, cheese, and french fries. Yes, french fries. It was amazing, and I am ruined forever.
SORRY, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO UBER SOMETIMES
You can walk to KC’s Crepes and Benny’s from LMU, but since LA is so spread out and LMU is so isolated, you’re probably going to have to drive to get anywhere else. For those who don’t have access to a car, like Gracie and I, that means a lot of expensive Ubers. My recommendation for off-campus exploration would be to bring lots of people and split the cost of each ride.
Thankfully, with the split between me and Gracie, a trip to Santa Monica wasn’t that expensive. It is surprisingly close by.
I also didn’t anticipate how beautiful it would be. This was only my second time seeing the Pacific Ocean, and just from looking at it I felt its vastness. Turning my head north or south, I could see the hills curving into the water. Maybe it’s because I grew up there, but Massachusetts just isn’t as breathtaking.
After strolling the pier, Gracie and I went down to the beach and spent the afternoon in the water. It was my first time swimming in the Pacific, and it was the perfect place for it.
Besides its proximity to Santa Monica, LMU is also very close to LAX, so I got to be on campus as long as I could before catching my red-eye back to Boston. Like I expected, when I got back, Boston was cold. Loyola Marymount turned into a great vacation destination for me, and with this guide, you’ll be able to enjoy your time in Westchester, too—even without a good friend as your guide.