CSUN is centrally located between three major freeways, making it easy to get wherever you need to go in Los Angeles. Because of Southern California's diverse geography, you can travel between urban cityscape, beaches, parks and mountains in a matter of minutes, allowing for a bounty of indoor activities and outdoor excursions. After class, there are plenty of hip spots to hit up for karaoke, bowling, movies or shopping.
The great outdoors
Flanked by the Santa Susana, Verdugo and San Gabriel mountains, the San Fernando Valley is a goldmine of excellent hikes and nature walks for the outdoor enthusiast. Trekking up the hills is a great way to get some exercise as well as experience Southern California's rich scenery and native species.
O'Melveny Park is the second largest local park outside of Griffith Park. The 672-acre park is home to winding fire roads and picturesque hiking trails.
With three hundred acres of open public space, the Getty View Trailhead (east side of Sepulveda Boulevard) boasts spectacular views of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean and the Getty Center, and invigorating hikes overlooking Hoag Canyon.
The Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve is a haven for native plants and wildlife of the San Fernando Valley, which makes it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Every year, locals flock to Lake Balboa and the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area to see the cherry blossoms in bloom at the Anthony C. Beilenson Park. Activities that visitors can enjoy in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area include kayaking, fishing, jogging and bike riding.
Hikers can find plenty of trails to explore in the Hansen Dam and Big Tujunga Wash areas. The Hansen Dam Aquatic Center is a 40-acre water recreation facility located on the northwest side of the Hansen Dam Recreation Area. The facility includes a nine-acre lake for fishing, pedal boat rentals and public boating, and a smaller 1.5-acre lake that is filtered and chlorinated for swimming.
Griffith Park is the largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the nation. With over 4,000 acres of natural terrain, the park offers hiking and horseback riding trails, a Greek amphitheater, observatory, hall of science and planetarium.
The six-acre strolling Japanese Garden is fashioned after the ones in the homes of feudal lords in 18th- and 19th-century Japan. In addition to a tea house, the garden features classical elements such as traditional rock, wet and tea gardens.
The former vacation home of the oil-rich Orcutt family is now a historical site through which visitors can wander and enjoy the rustic adobe and Spanish tile architecture, robust oak trees, and shady orchards.
Every year, droves of local and international visitors flock to the world-renowned The Getty Center. The museum houses an impressive collection of modern and classical Western paintings, sculptures, photographs, manuscripts, drawings and ever-changing exhibits of master artists like Rembrandt and Michelangelo. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the central garden on a sunny day.
The architecture and grounds of The Getty Villa in Malibu are inspired by classical Rome. The site features breathtaking views of Malibu and houses a stunning collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Simply making the drive up the beautiful Southern California coast is a treat.
The Huntington Library holds the distinction of being one of the finest research libraries in the world. It is home to an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts. On the grounds you'll find 18th- and 19th-century British and French art, an Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," a Gutenberg Bible, early editions of Shakespeare and original letters of Benjamin Franklin and former presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. The botanical areas and waterscapes are also a draw for tourists, especially the traditional Japanese and Chinese gardens.
Sand and surf
The beaches in Southern California are as diverse as the eclectic communities surrounding them. Santa Monica and Venice are home to curious performance acts: sidewalk musicians, jugglers, mimes, acrobats and magicians. Up the coast, Pismo Beach features beautiful scenery and outdoor activities such as golf and horseback riding. For the extreme sports enthusiast, Oceano Dunes State Recreation Area, just three miles south of Pismo Beach, offers ATV rentals. Surfers can hit the waves in Seal Beach and Malibu. For someone who just wants to soak up the sun, Bolsa Chica Beach is a quiet spot for laying out a blanket.
If you haven't gotten the rollercoaster bug out of your system yet, there's an easy way to exorcise those demons. Spend a day screaming your lungs out at Six Flags Magic Mountain or Knott's Berry Farm. Or, get up close and personal with King Kong and other characters from your favorite TV shows and movies at Universal Studios. If you prefer to tap into your inner child rather than your inner demons, Disneyland still tickles childhood fancies by being the most magical place on earth.
Remember to stop by the Associated Students Ticket Office first to check if you can score a student discount on theme park tickets.
Universal Studios Hollywood
1000 Universal Center Dr., Universal City, CA 91608
Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355
Disneyland Park and Resort
1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802
Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620
Knocking down pins
Glow-in-the-dark clown shoes, amateur karaoke, old-school arcade games and good friends? Sounds like the ingredients for a fun night. Now if you prefer people-watching while you bowl, both Pinz and Lucky Strike Lanes boast a Hollywood clientele and a bit of movie history. But if you prefer to avoid the scenesters, Canoga Park Bowl and Brunswick Matador Bowl are closer and more low-key without sacrificing a good game.
Pinz Bowling Center
12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
Lucky Strike Lanes
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Canoga Park Bowl
20122 Vanowen St., Winnetka, CA 91306
Brunswick Matador Bowl
9118 Balboa Blvd., Northridge, CA 91325
Big screen entertainment
It's a weeknight. You've finished your homework and now you really need to get out of your room. What's the best guilty pleasure on a school night? Going to the movies, of course! Whether your poison is a gushy romance or a stomach-churning gore fest, there's probably a theater around here playing it. But if you desire something a little more intellectually stimulating, Laemmle's is excellent for arty and foreign pictures. And the ArcLight Hollywood touts a top-of-the-line movie-going experience, which diehard film buffs swear by.
Pacific Northridge Fashion Center All Stadium 10
9400 Shirley Ave., Northridge, CA 91324
Pacific Winnetka All Stadium 21
9201 Winnetka Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311
AMC Theatres Promenade 16
21801 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Regency Granada Hills 9
16830 Devonshire St., Granada Hills, CA 91344
Laemmle's Town Center 5
17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91316
6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
You have a job interview lined up but you haven't gotten around to updating your wardrobe of thrift-store T-shirts and jeans purchased by your mom. To remedy that, check out some of the great shopping centers around here, featuring popular department stores and brands such as Macy's, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, H&M, JCrew, Foot Locker, Guess, Zara and Urban Outfitters.
Northridge Fashion Center
9301 Tampa Ave., Northridge, CA 91324
Westfield Topanga Mall
6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, CA 91303