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Student Perspectives: Getting Outdoors in LA

About Eli: Eli is a first-year full-time MBA student specializing in real estate and hoping to pivot into development after graduation. Prior to Anderson, he worked in architecture for several firms, and has lived in LA the past two years. An avid outdoorsman, Eli can often be found at the beach, hiking the Santa Monica mountains, or biking around the city. He also follows multiple sports closely and, as a proud owner of a rescue dog, loves all things dog related.

For those who love nature, LA might seem daunting from afar. A city famous for its smog, traffic, and endless sprawl sounds unappealing for those who enjoy a quick escape into nature. I was worried that living in LA, all the great outdoor adventures would be too far away or too difficult to reach in the city’s infamous traffic. But having lived here for several years, I can safely say that LA is one of the best cities in the country for outdoorsy people like myself. And Anderson’s clubs have only improved the opportunity to explore this region.

Malibu Beach

I quickly fell in love with LA’s beaches. The deep expanse of sand, the mountains rising above Malibu, the surfers playing in the waves, the orange and purple sunsets – it was intoxicating. There’s no substitute for living near the ocean, and anytime I feel stressed or anxious, any view of it never fails to brighten my mood. A huge benefit of UCLA is that you’re likely to live within a 15-minute drive from a beach. Anderson’s Surf and Beach Club hosts frequent events, including surf lessons and volleyball tournaments, that provide the ideal break from whatever is stressing you out.


I also fell in love with the Santa Monica Mountains. Some of the best urban hiking in the US can be found 15 minutes from UCLA’s campus. Their variety of terrain, views of the ocean and city, and accessibility is amazing – in an hour I can go from school to standing atop a peak with views of the ocean, downtown, and other mountains that surround LA. Evening hikes are often informally organized by Anderson students, and the Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC) posts hikes as well. They’re a great chance to explore the mountains and see LA from above.

I found the bicycling here to be incredible – beautiful, safe, with every level of difficulty. Santa Monica and Venice are extremely bike-friendly, with miles of protected bike lanes. There’s a continuous path along the ocean that runs for over 20 miles, providing great sightseeing and opportunities to explore the other cities along the coast. Towering above LA, the San Gabriel Mountains quickly became a favorite place of mine to hike and ski. An hour from UCLA, these mountains house the closest ski resort to the city, and it’s possible to both ski and surf in the same day! 

A foggy day in LA, over 10,000 feet below
A foggy day in LA, over 10,000 feet below
Lots of beautiful streets to bike down
Lots of beautiful streets to bike down

And with a weekend to get out and explore? I found so many possibilities! The impossibly weird landscape of Joshua Tree is a short 2 hours to the east. The majestic waterfalls of Yosemite and enormous trees in Sequoia are 5 hours to the north. Through OAC, I spent a weekend camping on Catalina Island, a 45-minute ferry ride off the coast to the south. The variety of nature accessible from LA in a day’s drive is remarkable, and no class on Fridays make those trips more possible than ever.

OAC Campsite on Catalina
OAC Campsite on Catalina

Having 284 days of sun per year makes adventuring outdoors even easier. Whatever you love to do outdoors is here, in great quantity and quality, and Anderson has a club that will make it easier for you to access and to meet people with the same interest.

Student Blogger: Eil Wilson ‘23

Undergrad: Rice University ‘16

Pre-MBA: Architectural Designer, CallisonRTKL

Leadership@Anderson: Director of Community, Anderson Real Estate Association; Director of Net Impact Week, Net Impact Club; Director, Anderson Admissions Committee

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