University of Southern California (USC) is a private, well-regarded institution for academic pursuits- but is also a So Cal locale for the enjoyment of the public, especially arts and sports enthusiasts, book geeks and architecture aficionados.
Many campus events are open to everyone and inexpensive (unlike college tuition). Regularly, there are vibrant art exhibits (at Fisher Museum of Art), concerts, sports games (including basketball games at Galen Center), lectures, often by well- known figures. Because of USC's world-renowned film school, famous actors, directors and other Hollywood performers are a certain bet to make an appearance during the year. I've found my way here for the very popular Festival of Books (one of my other featured "Off the Beaten Path" tips done separately), graduation ceremonies and for one-day independent programs.
USC provides architectural eye candy with an array of handsome Romanesque buildings, many of which adorned with intricate Greco-Roman sculptures. One would swear being in the middle of a southern European plaza than south-central adjacent Los Angeles! Treat the campus as if it were a museum. On everyday exhibit outside are ornate fountains, colorful mosaics, bas-relief and various massive sculptures. Interior marvels in buildings include stained glass doors, marbled walls and floors and cast-iron bronze doors.
On campus, there are a number of dining options, opening especially during school session. While summertime, options are limited. However, with walking distance, especially leading to Figueroa towards downtown Los Angeles, there are several casual and quality food establishments (and a good number of greasy joints as well).
Visit USC easily by Metro Rail Line, via Expo Line/USC stop, or drive down and exit off the 110 Fwy, Figueroa St, Vermont Ave, Jefferson Ave, Hoover St or Exposition Rd. Pair a campus visit with downtown L.A. as a whole.
Oh, and don't be too alarmed about reports of the USC area being "unsafe". The campus itself is well-secured and organized. I've been impressed by the on-going beautification of the campus and the surrounding area of Figueroa Corridor. Bad crimes are really rare at USC and especially daytime visits can be perfectly peaceful in all ways. Be extra alert at night after leaving an event at night when heading back to the car or Expo Line. Generally speaking, just take precaution as you would any place!