Have you heard of Torrance?
This city, located in Los Angeles’ South Bay, is known for its cultural and ethnical diversity. As a consequence, it is an exciting place to explore (think beaches, eateries, and markets) when visiting Southern California.
This comprehensive guide will give you all the reasons to start planning a visit to Torrance.
Things to Do in Torrance
As a city of more than 147,000 residents, believe me when I say Torrance has a plethora of attractions, facilities and open spaces available to the public. What follows is my local perspective on the best things to do in Torrance
Stroll Around Old Town
In the early 1900s, a real estate mogul called James Sydney Torrance took the chance to develop a community south of Los Angeles.
His investment paid off since the area incorporated as the City of Torrance in 1921 and grew in size through annexing different pieces of land.
The original planned community survives in what is known as Old Town. The quiet streets are sprinkled with businesses, residences, trees, parks, and monuments to local heroes.
I visit the area mainly to eat. My husband and I love By Brazil, a churrasqueria known for its home cooking and flavorful meat, chicken and pork cuts. We save money by taking advantage of the lunch special (about $20 per person).
We were beyond excited when Madre Oaxacan Restaurant opened in the area. We adore Oaxacan food and it is great to have tlayudas, mole negro and tasajo close to home.
For breakfast, we go to Eat at Rudy’s. For pastries (and donuts, ahem), we go to the Torrance Bakery. We meet with friends at Red Car. For something different, I recommend visiting the Chado Tea Room. Try one of their blossoming teas.
After lunch or dinner, stroll around the streets or pay a visit to Del Prado Park.
Join a Walking Tour
Every 4th Sunday of the month, the Torrance Historical Society offers a free tour of Old Town Torrance. The 90-minute tour will take you to several landmarks and expand your knowledge about the city.
Note: The tour is offered from May to October. Confirm details a couple of days before the tour date.
Visit a Popular Filming Location
TV and movie fans will be interested in knowing that the Torrance High School has been featured in several well-known productions.
The building gained notoriety for serving as the high school on the popular Beverly Hills, 90210 series. In addition, its facade and patio have been part of TV shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Medium and movies such as She’s All That and Bruce Almighty.
Enter Bivalve Paradise at The Jolly Oyster Market
When I told my husband, I was writing an article about things to do in Torrance, he told me not to forget about The Jolly Oyster. Then, he repeated the same thing 20 times.
Per my husband’s mandate, I am suggesting you visit this market specializing in oysters, clams and crab claws. They have a big local following and excellent reviews.
Actually, this brand started with a truck at the San Buenaventura State Beach (in Ventura, 70 miles north of Los Angeles). We used to stop when driving back from Santa Barbara. My husband was elated when they opened a market in our backyard.
Note: They also serve oysters at Smorgasbord LA, an eating extravaganza taking place every Sunday in Downtown Los Angeles.
Get in Touch with Nature at the Madrona Marsh Preserve
The Madrona Marsh showcases the marshland that used to cover the coastal plains of Southern California. Most of these areas were drained in order to develop living and businesses complexes. Therefore, this marsh is a rare example of how things used to be.
The place provides a habitat for birds, insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. In addition, it is a stop for migrating birds.
The preserve is open to the public every day (except Monday) from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. An on-site nature center provides information about the creatures calling home the area and facilitates different types of activities (hikes, workshops, etc.)
Spend the Day at the Beach
A lot of people mention the beach cities of Los Angeles County (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach) but they do not realize Torrance has 1.5 miles of beachfront.
The long stretch of sand between the Redondo Pier and the Palos Verdes Peninsula is shared between Redondo Beach and Torrance. The Torrance part starts south of Miramar Park (where Esplanade meets Paseo de la Playa).
This beach is less hectic than others in the South Bay so, it is a good place to spend the day without having to share your space with hundreds of people. In season, there is a cafe and beach rental shack on-site. The other nice thing is that the Riviera Village, an area with more than 20 restaurants, is located a couple of blocks away.
Also, keep in mind Torrance Beach is the terminus of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. This 22-mile paved way starts at Will Rogers State Beach and continues through Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, and other beach cities. Since you are on Torrance Beach, you can use the trail to bike to nearby beach cities. I love to ride along this trail!
Enjoy a Bit of Japan at Mitsuwa Marketplace
Mitsuwa is a supermarket chain with one of the largest selections of imported Japanese goods in the United States. However, this place is more than a supermarket. They sell electronics cosmetics and pharmaceutical goods. And, we cannot forget to mention the food court serving everything from ramen to tempura.
You can spend a decent amount of time browsing the halls and taking advantage of the samples (usually during the weekends). If you feel hungry, you either can grab something at the prepared food section (the selection is mind-blowing) or pick a stall at the food court. I always take several things home to eat later.
The other cool thing is that Mitsuwa has different “fairs” featuring dishes from the different prefectures of Japan or a specific ingredient. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the culture of the country.
Note: Seiwa, S-Mart, and Hmart are other Asian grocery stores located in Torrance.
Photo by Nandano
Stop by the Best Farmers Market Ever
Many farmers markets in the Los Angeles area get tons of rave reviews. I am not sure if it is local pride but, in my opinion, they are not as good as Torrance’s Farmers Market.
This market is huge! They have products from 60 farms plus flowers, honey, baked goods, nuts, candy, fish, eggs, prepared food, an international food court, and live music. You have the opportunity to sample a lot of different things and try things you have never tried before. Come hungry because you will need space in your stomach to tackle all the offerings.
The market takes place every Tuesday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Charles H. Wilson Park. Please support small businesses by buying from one or more vendors.
Hunt for an Antique Treasure
If you enjoy browsing for antiques and unique objects in a lively environment, then you have to stop by the Torrance Antique Street Fair.
This monthly event (4th Sunday) gathers 200 vendors and attracts thousands to Old Town Torrance. The fair has been going strong for 20 years and it is a South Bay favorite. Bring the entire family to this fun event. Admission and parking are free.
If you are not in town for the event, you can visit the fair’s store at 1317 Sartori Avenue (in Old Town).
Shop at the Roadium Open Air Market
The Roadium can be described as a swap meet or flea market (even though it is “officially” an open-air market). I am pretty sure you are familiar with the concept but, if not, this is a place where used objects are sold or exchanged. Offerings can be new or never used. The idea is to acquire a good at a lower price than usual.
The Roadium covers a big space and it is well organized. You can find cosmetics, perfumes, clothes, shoes, and bag as well as automotive, gardening, locksmithing and hardware store items.
The market is opened daily but the biggest number of vendors set up stalls during the weekends. Admission is $1 – $2. Additional parking can be found at a lot, located at the intersection of Redondo Beach Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard. A free shuttle transports shoppers to the market’s entrance.
Visit a Museum
If your preferences are along the art, history and culture subjects, it is possible to sharpen your knowledge on those areas by visiting one of the museums in the city of Torrance.
You have the following options:
Torrance Art Museum – focuses on the contemporary art of Southern California. Admission is free.
California Museum of Fine Art – museum and gallery showcasing works of global artists. Opened from Wednesday to Saturday (afternoons)
Torrance Historical Society – offers local exhibits and archives. Open from Wednesday to Saturday (afternoons).
Western Museum of Flight – aviation museum located at Torrance’s Municipal Airport. Opened Tuesday to Sunday. Admission id $5.
Chen Art Gallery – houses one of the most important Chinese art collections in the United States. Opened Tuesday to Friday. Admission is free.
Go Brewery Hopping
Torrance is one of the leaders of the craft beer movement in Los Angeles. I am not sure if another city in the area has as many breweries as Torrance.
These breweries are usually located on an industrial zone and facilities are warehouse style. Most places are “bring your own food” (or snacks). Sometimes, a food truck makes a stop or a taquero is serving delicious morsels.
I am not a beer drinker, so I cannot really tell you which place is better. You will need to find out for yourself. But, let me tell you that the places I am mentioning below are alive, thriving and expanding. Therefore, they must be good.
Smog City Brewing, Monkish Brewing, Cosmic Brewery, The Dudes’ Brewing, and The Strand Brewing are located very not that far from one another (less than a mile).
Not far away, in Old Town Torrance, you have Red Car Restaurant & Brewery and Yorkshire Square Brewery. Absolution Brewing Company and Scholb Premium Ales are located west of the other breweries.
Standing by itself, next to a 99 Cents store, you will find Hop Saint. The food here is phenomenal.
Get Transported to Germany (Or Central Europe)
If you have visited Germany, Hungary, Austria, Czechia and other countries in Central Europe, you wonder how you will survive without sausages, sauerkraut, and goulash once you get back home.
Well, in my case, I almost cried with happiness when I entered the Alpine Village. The market sells about 30 types of sausages (some prepared on-site), potato dumplings, spaetzle, pickled items and much more. They also have a bakery, cafe, and deli.
Those looking for a more involved experience can visit the restaurant bratwurst, beef goulash, weinerschnitzel, cold salads, hot dishes, and desserts. I cannot recommend this place enough!
Bring the Entire Family to Mulligan
Mulligan caters to families who enjoy go-carts, batting cages, miniature golf, rock walls, video games, and similar attractions. Most visitors buy an all-day pass and spend the entire day at the facilities.
To make the most of the pass, some families visit in the afternoon, go out to eat (or go home to rest a bit) and then return during the evening to do some more attractions.
Before paying full price for an all-day pass, check websites such as Groupon to score a discount.
Get Moving at One of the City’s Parks
As any big city, Torrance has a wide array of open spaces designated for the public’s enjoyment. Several parks have running, volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, playground and picnicking facilities.
My friends and I have celebrated so many events in the city’s parks. The best thing is that they can be visited all year round (thanks to the beautiful weather we have).
I recommend the following:
- Charles H. Wilson Park (where the farmers market takes place)
- Wilson Park
- Columbia Regional Park
- Los Arboles Rocketship Park
- Lago Seco Park
In this section, I want to highlight some of my favorite restaurants in the city.
When in Torrance, do not skip King’s Hawaiian, a restaurant and bakery famous for its baked goods (above all, their sweet dinner rolls). They have so much stuff! I love their burgers, French toast, banana mac berry pie, Hawaiian paradise cake, and pineapple tres leches. It would be madness not to stop by!
Photo by Sam Howzit
Gen Korean BBQ House
This Korean BBQ place has a nice selection of meat, chicken, seafood, and vegetables. Everything tastes better when combined with their dipping sauces. Try to take advantage of their lunch specials. It is very difficult to get in in the evenings and weekends. Get ready to wait an hour or more if you visit those times/days.
Hoff’s Hut Restaurant & Bakery
I have lost count of the numbers of parties, birthdays and showers I have attended at Hoff’s Hut. This local favorite serves comfort food, steaks, ribs and a killer breakfast (all day). You can end things with a pie, cake cheesecake or sundae.
Not sure if you are noticing a trend here but seems like I prefer places which serve great food and wonderful sweets under the same roof. Giuliano’s is not the exception.
This Italian restaurant and market have on the menu Roman-style pizzas, plates of pasta (I am crazy about the lasagna), cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches (the meatball for me, please!), salads and soups. They have a very nice bakery section too. I find the prices affordable compared to other places in the area.
New York Deli
This is the place to go for monstrous sandwiches! Locals know this and pack the place on evenings and weekends. My husband and I like to share a matzo ball soup. He orders the pastrami or corned beef sandwich. I like the turkey breast or brisket sandwiches. We usually take home half of our sandwiches. We get stuffed in here quickly.
JJ Squared Bakery
This is the place to get Asian baked goods. To be honest, everything I have liked everything I have tried from here. Among my favorites are the Portuguese tarts, Danish almond, chicken pie and the almond brittle.
Blue Salt Fish Grill
I cannot talk about Torrance restaurants without mentioning the Blue Salt Fish Grill. They started with a restaurant in North Redondo and expanded to Torrance.
They specialized in made to order fish and prepared seafood dishes. I go for the grilled salmon with couscous and coleslaw. Their prices are fantastic given the quality and flavor of the food.
If you have never been to California, or do not visit often, then you have to visit one of our icons. In-n-Out has been serving fresh burgers, fries and shakes for 70 years. The hype has not died down. The place is as popular as ever.
If you want to order like a local, ask for your burger or fries (or both) animal style (this is not on the menu). They will add melted cheese, onions and spread to them. My friends also order burgers with three and four patties.
Photo by Punctuated
Shopping in Torrance
It is very difficult to compete with Torrance in terms of shopping. The selection of shopping centers is huge!
The most notorious shopping complex is Del Amo Fashion Center. The centerpiece of the complex is a mall with 2,600,00 sq ft of retail space (that makes it one of the largest malls in the US). It has about 250 stores, a food court, restaurants, and a movie theater.
But, it is not only the mall. The actual structure is surrounded by even more stores and restaurants. For example, there is a nearby shopping center called Village del Amo.
Photo by Rjung2k
In addition, there are other centers such as Torrance Crossroads Shopping Center, Plaza Mayor Shopping Center, Torrance Promenade and Torrance Towne Center.
Nearby Places / Attractions
Uff, as you have noticed, there is way too much to see in Torrance. However, if you want are interested in visiting more places around the area, you will not go wrong by stopping by the following places:
- Manhattan Beach
- Hermosa Beach – Click here to read my complete guide
- Redondo Beach – Click here to read my complete guide
- Palos Verdes Peninsula Hikes, Coves and Views
- Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
- Portuguese Bend Reserve
Of course, you can enjoy the many attractions of Los Angeles and Orange County while in Torrance.
- Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
- Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
- Venice Beach Murals
- 150+ Places to Go in Orange County
- Orange County Beach Towns
Torrance is located 16 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport, 20 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, 20 miles from Santa Monica and 18 miles from Venice Beach.
What do you think about Torrance? Residents, what else I should add?
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