TORRANCE, CA: THE LITTLE-KNOWN LA COUNTY CITY TRAVELERS OVERLOOK
Just south of the city of Los Angeles is (the slightly hidden gem of) the South Bay.
I have a challenge for you… the next time you visit Southern California add something new and unique to your list – the city of Torrance.
I get it, I get it, there is a reason the “trendy places” such as Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Laguna Beach, Disneyland, are usually on people’s lists, but I have news for you Torrance is actually a part of Los Angeles County, in the more chill area of the South Bay!
But guess what! There is actually a decent handful of fun things to do in Torrance, including a beach! It’s the perfect location for a quick getaway, or a couple day addition to your trip to Southern California.
This post came about through a press partnership with Discover Torrance. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for hosting me Discover Torrance!
Since 1973, friendship, goodwill, and understanding between the City of Torrance and the City of Kashiwa, Japan has been promoted. This cultural exchange relationship now spans generations, with the goal of providing resources for enhancing this people-to-people interaction.
President Dwight Eisenhower inaugurated the Sister Cities Program in 1956, envisioning "a better world for all" through a global network of people-to-people relationships between U. S. cities and cities in countries abroad.
HOW TO GET TO TORRANCE
The convenient thing about this city is its location and proximity to a couple of airport options. It’s pretty much plopped right in the middle between LAX and Long Beach Airport, so either one is an option.
If you want my honest opinion, I am going to tell you to fly into Long Beach. WHY?
☼ The rental cars are literally across the street.
☼ It’s very visually appealing – part of it is outside and there is a courtyard of palm trees.
☼ It’s significantly smaller than LAX – aka less stress and less people
☼ It will take you about 5 minutes to walk from your gate to outside of the airport.
**Now unfortunately if you are flying from outside of the US (I’m talking to all my Canadian friends) you are going to be forced to fly into the behemoth of LAX**
WHERE TO STAY IN TORRANCE
This is where I am going to add the important caveat that in addition to experiencing the city through Discover Torrance, I was also a hosted guest of Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach.
But, that being said, I would recommend this hotel hands down! It was actually partly my request when I was working out the travel details of this trip. I had seen photos of this Marriott location, more specifically of the pool and game area, so when I requested a “hotel with a pool” this is the one that I had in the back of my mind. Plus, now I can say I am a proud member of Marriott’s Bonvoy program. ;)
I think the best thing about this hotel is its proximity to one of the activities I list below and the included amenities, which include:
• a pool/hot tub area with complimentary towels & water • the outdoor game area with Instagrammable swinging chairs, oversized chess, ping pong and cabana seating • the outdoor lounge areas with fire pits • a well stocked fitness center (with access to the pool area) • the onsite restaurant with it’s perfect indoor/outdoor vibes, happy hour, wine flights, and delicious breakfast) •
Outside of the Marriott I would say to look into Airbnbs that are closer to the coast if hotels are not your thing.
WHEN TO VISIT TORRANCE
Because Torrance is in the South Bay area of LA County it has a moderate year-round climate. Warm temperatures, sea breezes, low humidity, and an average rainfall of about 12 1/2 inches per year are typical for this pocket of the South Bay. But keep in mind, just like many other areas along the coast of California, and the typical “reputation” of the Spring season, the weather may be hit or miss during this in-between season. The good thing about visiting during the off-season of Spring is that the crowds will be less, the prices will be less, and you can still get hit with some pretty awesome and sunny days! I visited in April, so the temperatures were a little cooler than what I have listed above, but after looking at average temperatures month-by-month I would recommend going right in the middle of Summer.
WHERE TO EAT IN TORRANCE
I unfortunately wasn’t able to eat at all of these places, because let’s be real if I made that my priority I would have seen nothing, but all of the restaurants listed below should be on your list as the top spots to fill your belly while in town!
☼ Torrance Bakery
1341 El Prado Ave. (by Old Torrance)
Now the coffee from here is not to write home about. You are coming for the desserts and the pastries. They have a taco donut, cronuts, and the famous Chocolate Chip Angel Cookie
☼ 21 Square Bar + Kitchen (at the Marriott Redondo Beach)
Get a mimosa, get the avocado toast with added egg on top (or their pretty awesome looking breakfast sandwich), grab a table outside and start your day off in the perfect California weather.
☼ King’s Hawaiian Bakery + Restaurant
2808 W. Sepulveda Blvd.
Yep! It’s the place we all know and love, made famous by its sweet Hawaiian bread. This is the only location outside of Hilo, Hawaii so it has to be on your list no matter what! Try a classic Hawaiian breakfast like the Loco Moco (a hamburger patty topped with two eggs over-easy and brown gravy, served over steamed rice), and the Spam Musubi is awesome and you get a good amount of pieces for the price. Don’t forget! You have to make a stop into their bakery to stock up before your flight home! They have a whole selection of products I guarantee you’ve never seen in your local grocery store, and their Paradise Cake is to dieeeee for. It’s literally the best cake I’ve ever had (one of my good college friends even had it as her wedding cake, which was the first time I tried it).
☼ The Jolly Oyster
2143 W 182nd Street
Seafood - one of my favorite food groups. No joke. If I had to give up everything else, seafood would be the one thing I would keep. Hence why I always try to find the best places to go for a taste of the sea no matter where I travel to. If you like oysters, or are thinking about trying one for the first time, The Jolly Oyster has got you covered from cooked to raw.
☼ Ramen Yamadaya
4036, 3118 W 182nd Street
There are a lot of ramen places in Southern California. Such is the nature of the beast when it comes to the prevalent Asian culture (of a variety of countries) in the southern part of the state. But when in Torrance this is where you must go if the day or night happens to get a little chilly and you could use a warm bowl of goodness.
☼ Poké Bar
21219 Hawthorne Blvd.
You can’t go wrong with a little (or big) bowl of Poké for lunch. This place was pretty standard when it comes to this Hawaiian dish, so you know you won’t be disappointed, but it’s their drinks that really shine! They have a unique mix of teas and boba, so try something a little out of the norm.
☼ Yellow Fever
24416 Crenshaw Blvd.
They’ve got a super unattractive, yet VERY delish item, which must be on your list: Ugly Egg Rolls. If nothing else but for a snack, this is one spot you’ve got to make a quick stop at.
☼ Restoration Kitchen + Wine
1437 Marcelina Ave. (near Old Torrance)
Happy hour here only runs on the weekends (on Fridays & Saturdays), but you get a discount of 25% off beer, wine by the glass and select menu items. It may not be the steepest happy hour discount I’ve ever experienced but everything I tried was pretty good!
☼ 21 Square Bar + Kitchen (at the Marriott Redondo Beach)
I actually forgot to ask about the happy hour menu but I can tell you the wine flights here are pretty great and a great price too. Overall the atmosphere of the bar, especially on a warm, sunny night, is perfect because you get the balanced ambiance of an indoor/outdoor atmosphere with the opened up walls.
☼ Ise-Shima (at the Miyako Hotel)
21381 S Western Ave.
You must get the Premium Sake Tasting ($20), try the US Wagyu Beef Tataki ($18), and the mini dessert platter ($15). They also have a pretty reasonable Miyako Course dinner for less than $70 so you can truly get an authentic Japanese experience.
☼ Wa Dining Sake and Steak House
2933 Rolling Hills Road
This is where you go for authentic Japanese food (which runs about $50 per person). The Chef’s Choice includes 5 different bites, and you can get your hands on even more Wagyu beef at a reasonable price (the Wagyu Tataki is just $22). In addition to all of this every Thursday there is a 20% off all bottles of wine and Japanese Sake.
☼ Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria
1261 Cabrillo Ave. #100
California is known for its Mexican food (and I can tell you the rumors of it being amazing are completely true), and Oaxaca is a state in the southern part of Mexico, which is also praised for its fantastic cuisine. Put the two together and you’ve got Madre Oaxacan Restaurant. I’m not a huge fan of Mezcal but this is the spot to go if you are into it during your trip to Torrance. The other cool thing about the Torrance location is it’s the only one that features live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There is also happy hour TWICE a day (Monday-Friday)!
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN TORRANCE
Wander here! Surprisingly there is a lot you can see within Torrance’s city limits. I am not a huge mall person so I do not have the Del Amo Fashion Center listed below. If you are a mall person then you should probably add it to your list because it is supposedly the 3rd biggest mall in America.
You may not be able to get to everything but to help you narrow it down I’ve pulled out the best highlights of places I think should be on your “must see ” list.
Connect with nature
There are two different outdoor gardens located in the Torrance area, one is the Pine Wind Japanese Garden (3330 Civic Center Drive), and the other is the South Coast Botanic Garden (26300 Crenshaw Blvd.). Both of them are gorgeous and provide a little escape from the classic hustle and bustle of Southern California. If you don’t have time to visit both then I would suggest putting South Coast Botanic Garden at the top of the list. It seriously felt like a complete escape, especially in the Palm Collection section - I literally felt like I transported myself to Bali in there!
Discover the best views
Tucked away into a suburban neighborhood is a hidden gem, guaranteed to only be known to locals: Los Arboles Park. Also known as Rocket Ship Park, this park is perched atop of hill overlooking the entire city. The name comes from the big rocket ship placed in the park (overlooking the view) which makes for a pretty awesome play structure for the local kids. On a clear day you can literally see the entire city all the way over to the beach!
Step back in time
Old Torrance brings you a little old school California charm. A mix of old shops and new, trendy restaurants and classic bakeries, mom-and-pop shops and boutiques, and cute little promenades. It’s only a few blocks long so it won’t kill your afternoon walking around. Plus, you’re already going to be down here enjoying a breakfast you’ll never forget at Torrance Bakery.
Immerse Yourself in Pop Culture
Two things you might not have known about Torrance: 90210, Bruce Almighty, She’s All That, and more were all filmed at the local Torrance High School; and in a little building located at 1327 Cabrillo Avenue, formerly known as Audio Achievements, Inc., N.W.A. recorded their landmark “Straight Outta Compton” album.
Get a dose of Vitamin Sea
This is a little pocket of 1.5 miles of pristine and uncrowded breach, right on the Pacific Ocean. The best part of this beach is it’s just down the road from the more popular (and well known) Redondo Beach, but significantly off the radar to tourists, so it’s just going to be you and the locals here. You won’t have to worry abut overcrowding, you can relax and watch surfers and people fishing or playing volleyball without being disturbed, and best of all you can just have some chill time during sunset sharing the sand with only a handful of people.
If you want a little more activity when you hit the beach, then grab yourself a bike rental and hit the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as The Strand. It won’t be hard to find as it’s a pretty noticeable paved bicycle path right along the edge of the sand. The bike path starts right in Torrance and runs 22 miles all the way up the coast into Malibu. This is when visiting is Spring is perfect timing because you can do the entire bike path in an afternoon and not die of heat exhaustion. I previously did the path from Venice to Malibu when I lived in LA years ago, and I can confidently say it is well worth it!