Places to get away in Los Angeles

The over-crowded Big Blue 7 bus careening down Pico Blvd., the constant activity taking place on campus, and the hyperactivity of Los Angeles in general are enough to have a student's head spinning like a top. This, among other distractions, creates an almost chronic state of restlessness that disallows that same student the opportunity to discover a serene and secluded place in which they can escape the endless commotion. A place where stopping to smell the roses is a requirement. But, while it may seem far at times, that secret getaway may be closer than you had imagined.

The journey begins down Sunset Blvd., through Malibu, and into the Pacific Palisades. Where within lies the Lake Shrine Temple, a monument and resting place of one Mahatma Gandhi, a man whose beliefs and ideals constitute an immediate disposition of peace and serenity.

Just walking through the Shrine's initial corridor, the beauty of the surrounding nature is simply astounding. Beauty encompassed by the lush gardens filled with flowers from all over the world and a cascading lake strewn with what seems to be thousands of fish.

The oasis is ideal for meditation; it's an opportunity to break away from the constant hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Lake Shrine Temple is, more simply put, a spiritual arena that is open to any and all those who choose to partake in its majesty.

Margareth Kelley, a frequent visitor to Lake Shrine, put it simply as she described her experiences at the temple. "It's perfect," said Kelley. "I always come here to clear my head."

For those who aren't necessarily privy to the observation of nature, reading about such ventures can be just as alluring. And what better place than the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood, a literary playground for anything metaphysically or spiritually related. Christened with book-laden shelves and a naturalistic ambiance lending to the already pleasant atmosphere, the Bodhi Tree Bookstore is the quintessential venue for both bibliomaniacs and skimmers alike.

The Tree's extensive collection of literature is enough keep any reader occupied for hours, and whether it's taking a seat beneath the actual Bodhi Tree in the bookstore's backyard or amongst the antique shelves, losing oneself within a fictional fantasy is all but expected.

And while the power of literature resides in it's ability to recreate the past, some might be better served witnessing those antiquities first hand, like the type of history served at the Griffith Park Old Zoo that's located just off of Crystal Spring Drive. Festooned with near century-old structures, the Old LA Zoo features abandoned caves and cages that give the public a peak into days past.

Whether it's a picnic with family and friends or a stroll with that special someone, Griffith Park's Old Zoo offers both nostalgia and effervescence to anyone in search of a relaxing afternoon.

Exquisite and enlightening places of refuge such as these are littered all throughout the world, with the city of Los Angeles being but a blip on large radar of possibilities. Possibilities that offer up an opportunity to step away from life's daily travails and to truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds us each and everyday. Take a whiff, the roses are in full bloom.