We all know Caltech requires work, whether it be working on sets, writing essays, or anything in between. Personally, I like to study outside campus, as it gives me an excuse to leave the bubble of Caltech while still getting work done. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite study spots, both indoors and outdoors, that I’ve visited throughout the term and previous exam periods. All these places are close to campus and have good vibes to work in :).
The Huntington Gardens and Library are amazing to visit, but I also love to work here on sets, essays, or just read. I have the College Card, a membership for college students that’s only $36 for the entire year. Given that a student ticket is otherwise $24, this is a great deal. My go-to for the Huntington is bringing a picnic blanket and sitting in the Jungle Garden. The trees provide a mix of shade and sun throughout the day that make studying really peaceful, and it’s a bit more secluded from the paths of the gardens. There are also plenty of tables spread out throughout the gardens, such as in the Chinese Garden, and other open grassy areas. The scattered benches through the Desert Garden and Australian Garden are also great to bring a book and read for class or fun (if you have time). Another favorite, of course, is the Rose Garden, which is in full bloom come Spring Term.
Boy and the Bear
I don’t normally go to coffee shops, but the Boy and the Bear is a nearby campus favorite. They have a discount if you bring your own mug, and the coffee is delicious. If you like coffee shops, this one is only about a twenty-minute walk away and has Wi-Fi and tables for your laptop or iPad to work on sets. It’s a bit quieter than other coffee shops as well, and it’s a local shop rather than a chain.
Tournament Park is actually sort of on campus; it’s right off the road on the way to the gym. Not just a quiet park, it’s a common place for campus gatherings such as the annual GPS End-of-Year-Party Zilchbrau, Ditch Day picnic lunch, and other campus events. While there are play structures, there is also lots of green grass to set blankets on, or tables to sit at and work. You can see the track through the side of the park, but it’s more hidden than other places that are more centrally located on campus.
A bit further, Lacy Park is about a 40-minute walk from campus. There’s a large open oval in the center surrounded by a track, which is in turn encased by trees, a rose garden, and more grass. It’s common to find families or other groups picnicking or otherwise enjoying the park. Both the inner oval and the outer rings are very nice to sit and relax in while working. Since it’s a park, there’s no Wi-Fi but I’ve had good signal to set up a hotspot or work on assignments offline.
Pasadena Public Library
One of my favorite places within walking distance of campus is the Pasadena Public Library, Hill Avenue Branch. It’s about a 10-minute walk from campus, straight down Hill Avenue away from campus. I frequently go there to reserve and pick up books, but it’s also a very nice place to study. There are tables to sit at and a few desktop computers. There’s also a nice patio in the back to sit at if it’s a nice day. There are a total of 8 branches in the Pasadena Public Library system, and each even have their own postcard! Going to the public library is also a very relaxing study environment because it’s not full of students also working hard on exams but rather full of community members or kids who bring a lot of energy to the space. Getting a library card is easy, all you have to do is show a proof of address in Pasadena.
It’s easy to get stuck on the Caltech campus, but exploring new places to work has been one of my favorite ways to explore the local area! Even if school keeps me busy, I can find a way to relax while doing it but by venturing out.