Are you looking to visit Torrance in the South Bay of Los Angeles? Whether you are visiting the area or coming on a day trip from somewhere in Los Angeles, we have you covered with all the things to do in Torrance on your visit.
What was once the sleepy step sibling to more popular Southern California neighbors of Redondo and Hermosa Beach, Torrance has come into its own. In the last few years Torrance has blossomed into a happening town full of amazing restaurants, with a burgeoning brewery scene, art galleries and even its first boutique hotel.
We had the opportunity to visit Torrance a few weeks ago and had so much fun! Between being out in nature, exploring the Japanese food and shops of the area and eating our way through some of LA’s best restaurants, we can’t wait to go back and share it with you all too.
Disclosure: My stay at Bluestem was hosted by Discover Torrance as part of a weekend trip to the area to explore all the family friendly things to do in Torrance California. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.
Also note, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Where is Torrance CA?
Located just 15 minutes from LAX, Torrance makes a great hub for those looking to visit the South Bay of Los Angeles, including those in town to visit fan favorites like Disneyland.
Known by locals as a hidden gem, Torrance is tucked away just south of Redondo Beach and northwest of Long Beach. Visitors can enjoy the quiet of Torrance while also having easy access to other parts of the city like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
And, unbeknownst to even many locals, Torrance is actually considered a coastal city in the South Bay of Los Angeles county. Yep that’s right, it has a 1.5 mile stretch of beach all of its own. Since so many people think of Torrance as an inland city, the beach is way under utilized making it the perfect place for those looking to escape the crowds.
The Best Time to Visit Torrance
Anytime! Torrance is a fabulous place to visit throughout the year due to its proximity to the beach. It can get hot in the inland areas, but overall, the weather is quite pleasant year round.
Top 15 Things to Do in Torrance
During our recent visit to Torrance, we were amazed at the number of things to do for families as well as those sans kids. Below are our top picks for exploring Torrance on a weekend or even as a day trip from somewhere else in Los Angeles.
Ride Bikes on the Strand
The number one thing to do in Torrance in our opinion is to ride bikes along the beach. The Strand, which is the official name of the bike path along the coast starts here in Torrance. It stretches 22 miles up to Malibu through California’s most famous beach communities.
By starting your bike ride here in Torrance you get to bypass the masses while soaking up the beach culture. This is especially perfect for new bike riders who need plenty of space and less traffic.
There are no bike rentals or services here in Torrance so either bring your own bikes or head to Redondo Beach to rent bikes. This stretch of the strand is truly excellent. Wide paths, beautiful scenery and no crowds!
Spot Birds at Madrona Marsh
We love nature centers and exploring hidden gems like the Madrona Marsh. As avid bird watchers (my 9 year old mostly!), we are always on the hunt for cool excursions that allow us to learn more about LA and its nature habitats. Here at the Madrona Marsh you can join docent led tours or just enjoy exploring on your own. Pop into the visitor’s center to learn more about the area with a really great display of exhibits from the history of the area to the animals that call this marsh home.
We spent a good few hours here watching birds (we even saw a kestrel!) and searching for frogs (which we did ultimately find!).
Discover Downtown on a Walking Tour
If you are in Torrance on the 4th Sunday of the month, we highly recommend learning a bit more about the city’s past through a walking tour of the historic downtown area offered by the the historical society. We were unfortunately not in town for this, but have it on our list to return for. The downtown area of Torrance is super cute and well worth a stroll with or without a tour!
Play at Torrance Beach
As I mentioned above not many people think of Torrance as a coastal community. It’s true much of the town is inland, but there is a beautiful 1.5 mile stretch of beach that calls Torrance home. It’s empty, beautiful and waiting for you to explore!
This area of the beach stays quiet mostly due to the lack of services on the beach. For food, entertaiment and shopping, you will have to head 1.5 miles north to Redondo Landing. Otherwise enjoy the quiet solitude Torrance offers. Plenty of street parking is available as well as pay lots that were continuously empty during our visit.
Transport Yourself to Japan
One of the things I found most surprising and exciting about visiting Torrance was the abundance of all things Japan. One of my all time favorite trips was to Japan in 2009. I was so excited to share my love of Japan with my son by visiting the local Japanese market and eating authentic food I had only found in Hiroshima previously! Okonomiyaki is a local favorite in Hiroshima and was one of my all time favorite dishes during my trip. I was so excited to find Chinchikurin here in Torrance offering up traditional okonomiyaki that tastes just like it did in Japan.
Make sure to pop into Mitsuwa Marketplace for all your favorite Japanese goodies. We found our favorite Japanese candy and several foods we hadn’t been able to find anywhere else including in Little Tokyo!
Go Oldschool at Los Arboles Rocketship Park
Los Arboles Rocketship Park was a must visit for me mostly because it is an almost exact replica of my favorite neighborhood park from when I was a kid in Texas! I was so excited to share this old school gem with my son. This is the perfect place for families looking to provide their kids a little “kid time” while also providing amazing views for the grownups. My son could have easily spent half the day at this park between the super cool old school rocketship and the newer playground equipment on offer. Definitely schedule some time here if you have kids!
Visit Miramar Park for Sunset
If you are in Torrance looking for the best sunset spot, we have found it at Miramar Park. This is the perfect place to visit if you want a ocean sunset view without getting sandy down on the beach! Perched just above the beach, Miramar Park offers outstanding views for sunset and throughout the day.
Get Creative at AR Workshop
One of the things we often look for in our adventures are places that we can get creative. In my search of this in Torrance, I came across AR Workshop. This place is amazing. They offer weekend family workshops where parents and kids can work alongside one another making anything from pillows to wood hangings or even photo frames. This local studio is perfect especially around the holidays as they offer such cool options like Santa signs or serving boards. I would highly recommend registering for a class if you are in the neighborhood!
Relive Your 90210 Days
I was raised on 90210, so you know I had to visit the place where it was filmed at Torrance High School. For those who are TV and film buffs, you must make time for a film tour of Torrance which includes this famous site as well as Buffy’s House from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kids may not like this as much.. but hey, we must relive our childhood too! For those who are film buffs, check out this film tour of Torrance that takes in several film locations around town.
Become a Beer Expert
For a town of only 145,00 people, it’s surprising to see more than 11 breweries here. Check out this two day itinerary by Discover Torrance to cruise around to the various craft beer breweries and become a true beer expert or hop on a tour to learn even more about all that is on offer here. During our short visit we visited HopSaint Brewery which serves amazing food and looked to have pretty popular beer too!
Play at the Charles H. Wilson Park
The Charles H. Wilson Park is THE ideal neighborhood playground. The urban park offers a large playground with a wooden treehouse that is ADA accessible, batting cages, basketball courts, bike paths, a splash pad and a huge field to do whatever you want. On our weekend visit it was hopping with families, but not too crowded that you couldn’t still find plenty of space to enjoy the myriad of squirrels running around collecting nuts for winter.
This park is also where the amazing Torrance Farmers Market is held each week on Tuesday and Saturday from 8 a.m.1 1 p.m.
Explore the Del Amo Mall
I know it seems weird to have a mall on the list of things to do, but Del Amo Fashion Center is one of the largest shopping centers in the United States and is well worth a peek even if you don’t want to shop! During the holidays it is beautifully decorated and quite festive making it a must visit.
This mall has a shop for every brand you could ever imagine. We didn’t have time to explore it all, but I can tell that I would be happy to be lost in this place for a few days!
The Del Amo mall is also a great place to grab some food and snacks. One of the most popular Taiwanese dumpling restaurants in town is here at the mall – Din Tai Fung. This is also where you can find Stacked, the place to make your own custom shake!
Smell Roses at the South Coast Botanic Garden
We did not have time to visit the South Coast Botanic Garden, but it is another item on our list for a day trip. Located outside of Torrance city in Palos Verdes, it is the perfect spot to enjoy nature while experiencing native SoCal plants as well as plants from other parts of the world. I can imagine this is a popular outing for the local elementary schools as it is perfect for kiddos and adults alike.
Ride the Southern California Live Steamers Train
One of my son’s favorite things to do on our side of town is ride the local train. We have a Live Steamers on our side of town as well, so we were super excited to see one in Torrance. The Southern California Live Steamers train located on the edge of Charles H. Wilson park only runs on certain days of the month, so plan in advance. The current schedule is the 1st Sunday of the month and Saturday midday. If you have a train loving kiddo, make sure to get here!
Learn at the Western Museum of Flight
The Western Museum of Flight was on our to do list, but we just didn’t make it there. Next visit! We hear it is super cool and is all about educating it’s guests on the history of aircraft and aviation. For kids big and small, this is a fun place to get a hands on view with some amazing historic aircraft. The collection includes military and commercial planes as well as ejection seats and other interesting tidbits that are worth a quick visit! Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 12.
Bonus: See Christmas Lights at Sleepy Hollow
For those of you who happen to be in Torrance during the holiday season, make sure to put a visit to the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood on your itinerary. During our visit the lights were just starting to come up, but we have been before and love it! For people in Los Angeles who don’t live in a neighborhood that goes above and beyond during Christmas, this is your place. Set your GPS for Pacific Coast Highway and Calle Mayor to start your driving tour.
Best Torrance Restaurants for Families
There are over 400 restaurants in Torrance, so you can imagine how hard it was to decide where to eat for our 3 day visit! After much research and taste testing, here are our top recommended places to eat in Torrance on your next visit. By all means though, do try out other places and let us know. We found the food in Torrance to be top notch. My 9 year old foodie insists that all of the places we ate at served “5 star” food!
Where to Eat Breakfast in Torrance
King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant
You know those awesome Hawaiian rolls you buy at the grocery store? Well this is their bakery and restaurant. How cool is that? Bonus is that the breakfast is delicious and served all day long. Kids will love the fun vibe with the big cylinder fish tank in the dining area. Make sure to try the house favorite Hawaiian bread french toast.
Eat at Rudy’s
This cute old school diner of sorts is a must visit while in town. Located in the historic part of downtown Torrance, Eat at Rudy’s is a locals favorite. This cash only establishment is worth the wait and the hassle of popping into the bank for bills! Portions are massive, while offering some favorites like biscuits and gravy and country fried steak. This was one of our favorite meals even though we had to wait a while for a table.
The Torrance Bakery in downtown Torrance is a historic establishment with great foods to boot. While we didn’t have breakfast here since we are more of an eggs and bacon type, we did pop in for some pastries to go! An amazing assortment of cookies, cakes and pastries will satisfy every sweet tooth you have.
Another highly recommended restaurant for breakfast is Hof’s Hut. Since we only had 2 breakfast opportunities we didn’t get to eat here, but popped in to check out their menu. The menu offers classic American fare that will please the entire family. From chicken fried steak to omelets and pancakes, you are sure to find something here. Lunch, dinner and cocktails are also served making this a great spot for any meal.
Where to Get Delicious Desserts in Torrance
There are a few great options for desserts or bribes which often is the case when you have children. Our three favorites during our visit were:
- Stacked – This is the place to go for a build your own milkshake.
- The Creamistry – While I didn’t love the uber creaminess of the liquid nitrogen ice cream, my son loved it and seeing the cool process of how it’s made.
- Get Shaved – Self proclaimed shaved ice experts, we found our way here several times during our visit! Don’t miss it!
Where to Eat for the Best Japanese Food
Torrance is known to be the largest Japanese population in the US besides Honolulu Hawaii. I did not know this before our visit. Pretty interesting fact right? That means if you are in Torrance, you must make sure to sample some of the delicious Japanese food on offer. There is everything from small mom and pop shops to chain restaurants coming all the way from Japan to upmarket dining. There is a lot more to Japanese food than sushi as you will find at these places below.
- Matsui is our top choice. It offers everything from soups, ramen, sushi and more.
- For traditional okonomiyaki from Hiroshima, check out Chinchikurin
- For an upmarket Yoshinoya, head to Red Rock Torrance – a chain that hails all the way from Japan!
- Inchimiann is a humble but delicious soba and udon noodle place in Old Torrance. (Cash Only!)
- Torihei is a busy izakaya serving skewers, noodles and more.
- Izakaya Hachi is filled with Honda office workers looking to get a post work bite. Try the hot pot!
The Best Mexican Food in Torrance
If you know me or follow my blog you know my absolute love of Tex-Mex! It is the one thing that I search for no matter where I go. We were so lucky in Torrance to find several great spots – one even has my favorite thing ever – queso!
- La Capilla – Oh my goodness you guys my heart has found its home. The best Tex-Mex I’ve found in Socal! Queso, hot salsa, cheese enchiladas. Heaven!
- Offering classic favorites, Frida Mexican Cuisine is another great place for Mexican food in Torrance.
- Not quite my favorite Tex-Mex type of food, but the Oaxacan food served at Madre is worth a stop!
Even More Places to Try in Torrance
Seriously, there are so many amazing options in Torrance, my 9 year old budding foodie has requested we make it back soon to eat more of our favorites. Everything listed below is great for families or solo travelers looking for a good meal.
- Little Shop of Mary for Bahn mi
- Red Car Brewery – Happening spot perfect for families. They even give ice cream scoop with chocolate sauce for free to all kids!
- The Depot
- HopSaint Brewery for their delicious bacon mac and cheese, BBQ favorites on the weekends and catfish!
Weekend Itinerary Suggestions
While there is always more on this list than most people have time to do, I wanted to share with you our specific itinerary in case you wanted to repeat just what we did!
Assuming this is a weekend visit, you can arrive any time on Friday afternoon. We were lucky to have a half day at school which meant we missed traffic and had plenty of time to do things upon our arrival. After dropping your bags and checking in at your hotel, we recommend you head straight to the beach for a bike ride. Friday afternoon/evening is perfect since you will beat the weekend crowds and can see the sun set too!
If you are starving, you can grab a bite to eat at Redondo Landing. However, we made it back to Torrance and headed to Old Town for dinner. Depending what you are in the mood for, I would suggest either La Capilla or Red Car Brewery. If the shops are still open, have a post dinner walk through Old Town for window shopping.
Wake up bright and early for a fun day out in nature! For breakfast either grab something at your hotel or try one of our suggestions – the King’s Hawaiian Restaurant or Eat at Rudy’s were both excellent. After you have fueled up for the day, head over to the Madrona Marsh. It opens at 10, but if they have a volunteer day, you can get in earlier. If you have time, check out the nature center before you cross the street to explore the marsh and search for birds and frogs!
Depending on how long you spend here exploring, you might be ready for a cool down snack (Get Shaved is our go to!) or lunch. My recommendation is to head to Mitsuwa for lunch and a poke around the market before going to Los Arboles Park and then the beach! For dinner we loved HopSaint Brewery for it’s awesome vibe and delicious food.If you still have some energy, head to the Del Amo Mall for a wonder around and desert at Shaked!
Today you can take it easy and sleep in a bit before heading out to breakfast. Between checking out the antique fair in Old Town and taking photos of Torrance High School, we only had a little time before our afternoon class at AR Workshop. For my son to get a little energy out so he could focus in class, we went to Charles H Wilson park for a run around and a quick bike ride. Rounding out our weekend trip to Torrance was a super fun family art class at AR Workshop.
Where to Stay in Torrance
There are a multitude of chain hotels throughout Torrance that offer great bang for your buck, but we highly recommend you check out Torrance’s first boutique hotel, the Bluestem Hotel. We were so excited to get the opportunity to stay here as it’s recently opened to much fanfare.
We are huge fans of boutique hotels and even more so when they come modeled after nature. Bluestem was designed with the local Madrona Marsh in mind, taking inspiration from the marshlands and beautiful birds that call this area home. The name Bluestem comes from a grass that is found throughout California! How cool is that?
The hotel is perfect for any visit to Torrance in that it is located centrally allowing you to easily access all of our favorites listed in this post. They have bike lock up areas if you bring your bikes, free parking and free (fast!) WiFi for all guests.
The rooms are chic, well laid out and perfect for a quick (or long!) visit!
Have you been to Torrance? Did you learn anything new about this cute hidden gem?
RELATED POSTS: When you are in Torrance consider even more nature time with nearby family attractions at the Cabrillo Aquarium in San Pedro or the aquarium in Long Beach.
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