A Breath of Fresh Air: 10 Nature Spots at UCLA
by YASHWI REDDY
UCLA is a beautiful campus, so take advantage of all its natural beauty while you can. Not to mention, there are immense health benefits to getting outdoors, connecting with nature, and breathing in fresh air. Whether you want to study, relax with friends, or contemplate alone, there is surely a place at UCLA, tucked in nature, that is perfect for you.
1. Lawn Near Janss Steps
It is easy to get stuck studying in a cubicle at Powell Library during those awkward gaps between classes. However, why not take that time to breath in some fresh air instead? The lawn next to Janss Steps is serene with a breathtaking view of campus. In fact, during my own breaks, I often sit in the shade to relax and enjoy the breeze. Many studies have shown that surrounding yourself in nature can improve mental health! 
Fun Fact: You can rent a hammock from Ackerman to use on Janss Steps, perfect for those Instagram photoshoots!
2. Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens is perfect for a peaceful morning stroll! Located behind the Life Sciences Building, the 7.5 acre Garden is a research-based live museum of over 3000 species of plants, separated into 17 sections based on the biome . My favorite part of the Garden is the Western Australia Natives, home to diverse and colorful flora.
Fun Fact: The Dragon Tree in the Desert section produces “dragon blood” (red sap) that has medicinal properties such as healing skin wounds and being a potential ulcer remedy. Go to the Garden to see it yourself! 
3. UCLA Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden
This Sculpture Garden at UCLA has once been named by Playboy Magazine as the number one spot to smooch in Los Angeles. The garden may or may not have retained such a reputation, but the Sculpture Garden remains a beautiful place to walk around, read a book, or just rest. Dotted with over 70 sculptures, the North Campus park represents a perfectly harmonious setting for study and reflection.
Fun Fact: Of all the sculptures, my personal favorite is “Obos 69”, the Garden’s only fountain sculpture. It was created by renowned American sculptor George Tsutakwa.
4. Near the Main Entrance of Public Affairs Building, Facing the UCLA Guest House
Cut through the Sculpture Garden and continue walking along the sidewalk next to the Public Affairs Building to arrive at the UCLA guest house. This hidden gem of campus is perfect for a spontaneous walk along the college perimeter.
Fun Fact: The UCLA Guest House is a deluxe hotel which offers complimentary continental breakfast, a 24/7 coffee bar, and shuttle services to nearby campus locations!
5. Luskin Hotel lobby that connects to outdoors
Stop by the Luskin Conference Center, which is conveniently located on your way back up the Hill! The outdoor patio has a sitting area, ideal for studying or relaxing. There is even Plateia, a healthy, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, for you and your friends to celebrate after a busy day of classes.
Fun Fact: Every Wednesday, the Luskin Conference Center partners with Mindful Music, a program under the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA, to offer live jazz performances in the hotel lobby and patio. For those of you who end class at 5pm, stop by Luskin on your way back to the dorm or apartment to kick off your evening with some food for the soul.
6. Inverted Fountain in front of Franz Hall
Franz Hall has a wind tunnel, which means that wind would have sprayed water on passerbys had the fountain been built upright. As a solution, the fountain was inverted strategically. The Inverted Fountain, located next to the Music Cafe, is a great place to sit and relax.
Fun Fact: It is UCLA tradition for freshmen students to be initiated by touching the water in the Inverted Fountain. However, they are forewarned that doing so again before they graduate will supposedly tack on an extra quarter, delaying graduation. Thus, many seniors, after their last final exam, take a dip in the Fountain!
7. Left Side of Dodd Hall
Equipped with tables, this private lawn next to Dodd Hall is perfect for studying, taking your lunch break, and hanging out with friends. And now that it is spring, flowers are blooming and birds are chirping! Thus, if you want a peace of mind or a private place for meditation and yoga, this is a unique part of campus to visit!
Fun Fact: This place is conveniently located next to Lu Valle Commons, where you can buy food and grab yourself a cup of coffee!
8. Private benches in front of Bunche and in between Kaplan Hall and Powell Library
These benches, surrounded by trees, are often located in the shade, making them an ideal place to study or chill. The natural lighting keeps you awake, and most likely even more productive with the fresh air.
Fun Fact: Take advantage of this outdoor study space because these benches have power outlets attached to them!
9. Parking Lot/walkway near the Law School
The scenic walkway near the UCLA Law School is relaxing and best of all, not very crowded compared to any other location on campus during the day. There may be occasional traffic sounds since it is located at the edge of campus. However, the Law School walkway is considerably peaceful, and is a beautiful place to take a walk or engage in a private conversation.
Fun Fact: The UCLA School of Law is one of the youngest law schools in the nation.
10. Royce Squad
Last but not least, how can we forget about Royce Quad? Although busy during the daytime with foot traffic, Royce Quad is truly the most beautiful at sunrise or sunset. With the iconic fountain, trees, and the stunning views overlooking UCLA, this postcard location is ideal for a morning run.
Fun Fact: The most scenic jog on campus, in my opinion, is from the Hill, up Janss Steps, and to Royce Quad. Whether you prefer exercising in the morning or at night, this beautiful albeit hilly route is worth all the sweat.
“The Great Outdoors? Exploring the Mental Health Benefits of Natural Environments.” Front. Psychol. (2014).
“Garden Sections.” botgard.ucla.edu. (2017).
“Mindful Music.” luskinconferencecenter.ucla.edu. (n.d.)
“Waterworks Down: The Inverted Fountain Story.” magazine.ucla.edu. (2010).
“UCLA Guest House.” guesthouse.ucla.edu. (2013).