Before going down to Torrance with the crew from Discover Torrance, I really had very little knowledge of the city. This charming spot, only a 30-minute drive in decent traffic from Los Angeles, has a wealth of food, sights and craft beer to enjoy, but often gets overshadowed by its flashier neighbors. After three days of tastings and tours, I can tell you that it really does deserve some attention of its own.
Are you ready to get a taste of Torrance?
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach just off of Fashion Way. It was a perfect location – so close to the Del Amo Fashion Center that you can walk to movies, dining and great shopping without breaking a sweat. The second best thing about the Marriott is definitely the lounges – there are so many nice nooks to work in, read in, or relax in throughout the hotel. And the pool is something not to be missed.
Where to Breakfast
There are a number of great places to grab a quick breakfast or enjoy a leisurely start to the day. The buffet at the Marriott was ample, and you can also order off of their menu. If you are interested in going out, give Torrance Bakery a try. It’s a local place in the historic downtown that has delectable sweet things, and a very relaxed, community vibe. Want more of a sit down joint? King’s Hawaiian Restaurant & Bakery is still pretty casual, but with an expansive menu (hint: consider the french toast!).
What to See
You could probably visit Torrance for weeks and not see everything, but if you have three days start by visiting the Madrona Marsh Preserve. It’s a fresh water preserve and the migrating birds rely on it, as do the students who do research here. It’s a fascinating place to visit even if you aren’t into birding. Take one of the guided tours, and you’ll be amazed to find out so much about the natural history of the area. Are you interested in flight? Take a tour of the Western Museum of Flight. I’m not just recommending this because I got to sit inside a fighter jet (and you can, too). It’s a wonderful collection of historically important aircraft, models and memorabilia, and the guides are top notch. Are you an art buff? The Chen Art Gallery is a private collection of artifacts that cover more than 5,000 years of history. Mostly focusing on Chinese items, although there is an impressive Picasso collection currently on display, the Gallery gives viewers a rare look into the antiquities of region.
Where to Sip
You may not know exactly how big the craft beer scene has become in Torrance, but it really does feel like it is at the center of the movement. Don’t know where to start? Red Car Brewery is a family affair. If you get the chance to meet the brewer/co-owners, do it! Bob and Laurie Brandt will not only take you through the brewing process (their specialty pumpkin ale is a big hit right now, and the Big Red Ale was a hit with our crew), but they will make you feel very welcome. You can enjoy an ample lunch there, as well as the friendly, comfortable environment.
The other place you can’t miss is the Strand Brewing Co. They have recently had their grand opening at their new space, and it’s huge! We were fortunate enough to get a tour and tasting with Rich Marcello, and it was wonderful to see how their growth is still very much in-line with their great community/costumer philosophy. It’s a fun place to congregate, and to try something new (hint: White Sand Imperial IPA and the Batch 100 Stout made my partner’s list of favorites).
Where to Lunch
This is another difficult category to narrow down because I literally didn’t have a bad meal anywhere we went. I found Yellow Fever restaurant to be like nothing I’d ever had before. They offer Asian fusion bowls that can be customized to your mood (seriously). The place was packed, and I hear they are opening a new spot in Venice soon. Luckily, the Torrance joint is not far, and well-worth the trip. As I mentioned earlier, Red Car Brewery also puts on an impressive spread for lunch. I can personally recommend the burger, but everything from appetizers (hint: German pretzels and fried pickles were divine) to the desserts were much appreciated at our table. If you didn’t go to King’s Hawaiian Restaurant & Bakery for breakfast, make it a lunch destination. Classic favorites with a Hawaiian twist are on the menu, and I highly recommend eating the rolls when they arrive at your table.
Where to Get Sand Between Your Toes
Did you know that Torrance has a beach? It does! Torrance Beach is close to both Redondo and Palos Verdes. Parking is available near Miramar Park, and there are stairs or accessible walking paths down to the beach level. Sand is very clean, and, particularly in the off-season, the wide beach is often less crowded than others in the area. Bathroom facilities are also available here.
Where to Shop
While there are many areas with boutiques to try, serious shoppers should head over to the Del Amo Fashion Center. Recently remodeled and re-opened, this mall is large enough to literally have something for everybody. From designer shops to chain department stores, you can find your place. It’s also filled with highly-rated restaurants and lovely spots to relax beneath the overhead twinkle lights outside. And more shops are coming in every day!
Where to Happy Hour
Ise-Shima Cocktail Lounge in the Miyako Hybrid Hotel is something to be experienced. The specialty cocktails are potent, and creative, while the atmosphere is perfect for either business drinks, a romantic escape, or large-group events. Hint: stay for the food– it’s incredible!
Where to Dine
Successful dining in Torrance is all about what mood you are in – because you really can indulge any craving here. For Japanese food, Ise-Shima is a fantastic option. You can order off the menu, or have the Chef assess your wants and bring you food until you say stop. If Italian food is on your personal wish list, visit Gaetano’s. Tuesdays have family-style options – a fantastic way to try a lot of different things when dining with a group. The atmosphere is casual, but upscale enough that it makes for a very nice date spot, as well as the perfect place for a family dinner night out. Speaking of nice date spots, if you are looking for fine dining, The Depot restaurant is also an excellent choice (it also works particularly well for impressing business clients). The website describes their food as “globally-inspired,” and even the pickiest eater will find something delicious here. I would be one of those picky eaters, and I loved their angel hair pasta dish, and I know the steak was a hit around the table (hint: don’t skip dessert).
I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for years and never really gave Torrance my attention. Don’t make my mistake! It’s not as far away as you think, makes for an excellent girls weekend escape (particularly if you love craft beer), and has more to do (and eat) than you can imagine. Go discover Torrance!