A week off to do as you please

Megan McFadden

For many of us our spring break will not mean a week in Europe or five nights in Cancun. Rather, for most of us spring break means working a few extra hours to earn some extra cash.

Lucky for us, in the fabulous location we live in, there is still plenty for us to do.

The weather is supposed to stay sunny and in the 80s. The weekdays that were once devoted to classes are now open for beach trips or hiking and beating the weekend crowd.

Head down PCH after 10 a.m. to beat rush hour and either head back early around 3 p.m. or stay until 7 p.m. to beat the nine-to-fivers heading home from the office.

Looking for a change? Take a bit of a further drive down to Venice and take in the sights as well as some bargain shopping.

Or head to Santa Monica with your bike and take a ride down the bike path.

We are surrounded by mountains and trails, so grab a buddy or your dog and put them to use next week. If you want to stay local, hit the Rocky Peak Mountain Trail for great views of the valleys. It is a 6.5-mile hike, so make sure you take water.

Or if you want to feel like a tourist in your own city, take a drive down the 5 to Griffith Park and the Mt. Hollywood Trail.

With the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and the historic Hollywood sign, midterms and school will be far from your mind. If you park at Griffith Observatory, the hike is only 2.5 miles. For the more experienced hiker, start at the Fern Dell trail head, which is five miles round trip.

The Observatory is now open after a few years of restoration and free to visit. It is closed on Monday, but open Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 10 p.m.

Not much for the outdoors? Check out the revival of downtown L.A.

Search online for downtown L.A. walking tours. Many offer guides to the architecture and history of L.A.

Heading downtown during the week will also give you a much different experience than the weekend tourists.

Some of my favorite places to visit are Chinatown and the Grand Central Market on Broadway. But be prepared to pay for parking.

Another great L.A. landmark is the Farmer’s Market on Third Street and Fairfax Avenue. The Market is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Looking for a little bit of culture outside the classroom? Check out the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Norton Simon has a great collection of Picasso and Degas. Not to mention the great location, just a few blocks from Old Town Pasadena which features great shopping and restaurants.

Don’t want to pay the $8 admission fee for the Norton Simon? The J. Paul Getty Center is always a cheap thrill. Only $8 for parking.

The Getty Villa is also open now. Tickets are free but they are needed in advance and parking is $8. A great time to score tickets is surprise, during the week. As of Wednesday tickets were available for Monday, Thursday and Friday and the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Thursday, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where a student I.D. will get you in for free.

Or for the movie lover and coach potato, the majority of the Oscar nominated films are available on DVD. If you missed them in the theater, host your own private screening of “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country For Old Men,” or “La Vie En Rose.” And just in time for the break, “Atonement” will be released March 18.

Whatever you do with your week, enjoy and get some rest before the last stretch of the semester.

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