As one of the most prestigious universities in the country, the University of Southern California continuously draws a diverse student population from all over the world.
African American students who have enrolled in USC may wonder what places there are to visit after they officially become a Trojan.
Exposition Park directly across the street from the university is a goldmine of world-class museums that promises something for every taste.
The California African American Museum is considered a national cultural landmark and a popular destination for art and Black history lovers. With year-long exhibitions, workshops, lectures, concerts and a rotating number of guests, it is a place that will keep the visitor stimulated and returning again and again. During the summer, dj’s play live music that gets visitors dancing on the promenade.
If you’re a fan of history, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will satisfy your taste. Opened in 1913, it is one of the preeminent scientific and cultural institutions in the world.
Stroll into some of the exhibitions where you can view the Hall of African Mammals Exhibition and the Dinosaur Hall where gigantic skeletons of prehistoric animals that roamed the earth more than 65 million years ago will greet your eyes. The Museum also features the Insect Zoo and a Nature Lab that hosts a butterfly pavilion every spring and summer and a spider pavilion in the fall.
The California Science Center will stretch your imagination with a plethora of scientific exhibitions that are always cutting edge.
If you’re a space fan, you can view plenty of aircraft and spacecraft such as the Space Shuttle Endeavor and the Gemini II Space Capsule. The Center also houses the IMAX theater that features many scientific and documentaries on space.
Filmmaker George Lucas of Star Wars fame and his wife Mellody Hobson are constructing The Lucas Museum of Cinematic Arts directly across from the Los Angeles Coliseum that will be completed in 2023. Once completed, the one billion project will contain five levels and two theatres.
Among its many upcoming exhibits, the Lucas Museum will exhibit film stills, scripts and posters that track the history of African American movies from 1904 to the contemporary era.
Some of the legendary stars the museum will feature are Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker.
If you’re a nature lover, Exposition Park’s Rose Garden across the street from USC is a tranquil spot to sit and meditate. The Rose Garden boasts 15,000 rose bushes and 100 varieties of roses. It is estimated that a million people visit the Rose Garden each year and it continues to be a popular destination for families and local skateboarders.
If you’re eager to indulge in a vast array of culinary delights, a visit to nearby Figueroa Street is a must and offers a variety of eateries. It is considered one of the preeminent “fast food” meccas in South Los Angeles.
Stroll down the street and you will quickly discover that the street is a foodie’s paradise. Whether you crave Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, Fatburgers, Five Guys, Panda Express, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, Blaze Pizza (owned by Arnold Scharznegger’s son, Patrick) and Burger King, you’ll love the vast choices available that will definitely make your mouth water.
In the mood for Mexican food? Visit Figueroa Street’s El Huero, Chipotle Mexican Grill or Mexican Eats and get your grub on.
If you’re in the mood to peep the latest movie, a short drive to the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw mall at the corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Blvd. is the home of the popular multiplex Cinemax theater that has 3D flicks and where student prices are available. The seats are comfortable and the popcorn and nachos are tasty!
If you’re a die-hard culture vulture, it is definitely worth a trip going south down Crenshaw Blvd. to Degnan Boulevard to visit Leimert Park Village which draws visitors from all over the world.
Take a stroll down Degnan where all of the businesses are proudly black-owned. Purchase tea or coffee from the Hot and Cool Cafe, peruse the latest titles at Eso Won Books, view colorful portraits at the Aziz Art Gallery and Art and Practice, catch a jazz session at the World Stage, and check out the portraits of jazz icons and music concerts at the Jazz and Blues Museum.
Soak up the Afrocentric vibe where merchants sell jewelry, incense, sweet smelling oils, and colorful clothes from the Motherland. The Village is also a popular destination for drummers and street musicians who get you moving and grooving until sunset.
Enjoy!Written by: Shirly Hawkins