Best Things To Do In Torrance CA

Julie Diebolt Price Avatar

View of the Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge, one of the things to do in Torrance
Gateway to the City of Torrance, Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Discover Torrance hosted my husband and me. However, all opinions are my own.

Torrance, California is known for its 30 city parks and top-rated neighborhoods. It’s also one of the safest cities in Los Angeles County.

You’ll enjoy the quintessential Southern California beach experience when you visit Torrance, home to about 138,000 people. With year-round average temperatures between 64 and 78 degrees, you know that flip-flops are the way of life here.

Where is Torrance, California?

Located about 12 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Torrance is a city in the South Bay area of LA County. South Bay stretches along the southern shore of Santa Monica Bay and encompasses several beach cities. Torrance is bordered on the north by the famous Venice Beach, South Los Angeles on the northeast, Gateway Cities on the east, and Long Beach on the southeast. The Inland Cities of Gardena and Carson are included on the Ramen Trail and border the Brewery Trail.

29 Things to do in Torrance

From beaches and art galleries to shopping and dining, there are many things to do in Torrance. And the craft beer is worth mentioning too!

Where to Shop in Torrance:

1. Del Amo Fashion Center

 Del Amo Fashion Center is one of the largest malls in the country. Make this your first stop on your visit to Torrance. The California Welcome Center inside the Mall is chockfull of information and advice about sightseeing, walking tours, family friendly and fun things to do when you’re in town.

2. Mitsuwa Marketplace

Torrance is home to the largest Japanese community in North America. So it’s no surprise that the largest Japanese Supermarket in the United States is located here. Mitsuwa Marketplace has a location at the Del Amo Fashion Center. With a wide variety of fresh and packaged Japanese food, the restaurant inside the store offers many authentic Japanese dishes, including ramen.

Art in Torrance:

3. Torrance Cultural Arts Center

 Located at the City Hall complex, Torrance Cultural Arts Center includes:

  • Toyota Meeting Hall
  • Torino Festival Plaza
  • Ken Miller Assembly room
  • Ken Miller Auditorium
  • James R. Armstrong Theatre
  • George Nakano Theatre
  • Pine Wind Japanese Garden
  • Garden rooms
  • Torrance Art Museum
  • Four dance studios
  • Ceramics facility
  • Jewelry-making studios
  • Three art-making studios
  • Music and drama room
View of a mural on the front of the Torrance Art Museum, one of the things to do in Torrance
A mural on the front of Torrance Art Museum. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

4. Torrance Art Museum

The Torrance Art Museum is always free and located in the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. When we were there this spring, contemporary artists’ work was featured. While I didn’t understand or appreciate much of it, some was thought-provoking.

 The TF. Chen Family Foundation operates the Chen Art Gallery, which is a non-profit museum in Torrance. The museum is home to an invaluable collection of Chinese art, which belongs to Dr. Tei Fu Chen and his family. Dr. Chen was a renowned herbalist and pharmacist.

The Gallery holds over a thousand artifacts on exhibit covering 5000 years of Chinese history. Admission to the art gallery is free, but you must schedule a tour and remain with the guide for your entire visit.

6. Board & Brush

 If you want to work on a project with your hands, visit Board & Brush in Downtown Torrance. This DIY wood sign workshop lets your creative juices flow, along with wine to go with the experience. An instructor leads the sign-making workshops, and you leave with your personalized piece of art.

7. Murals in Torrance

 I always love a good scavenger hunt, and mural hunting in Torrance was no different. I found some selfie-worthy murals. Download your mural guide.

Torrance in Film:

8. Old Film Locations

 For decades, Torrance has been the scenic backdrop for more than 200 films and television episodes. Some of the film locations include:

  • Del Amo Fashion Center
  • The DoubleTree by Hilton Torrance/South Bay
  • Murdock Stadium
  • Old Torrance
  • Torrance Beach
  • Torrance Airport
  • Wilson Park
A front view of the iconic Torrance High School, one of the things to do in Torrance
The iconic Torrance High School film location. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

9. Torrance High School

If you remember the shows Beverly Hills, 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bruce Almighty, and She’s All That, you may recognize the unique architecture of Torrance High School.

10. Torrance Beach

Spanning 40 acres of, Torrance Beach boasts several amenities. For example, it has a spacious parking lot, a concession stand, restrooms, showers, lifeguards and bike path. Additionally, it’s less congested than nearby beaches like Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

Many popular TV series were set at Torrance Beach. Some scenes from HBO’s hit series Insecure and Grey’s Anatomy were shot at Torrance Beach. Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer, one of my favorite programs, closed a case on this beach.

While I enjoy beach time, the Pacific Ocean is too cold for me, so I park myself on the sand and soak in the sun.

Pro Tip:  May Gray/June Gloom is a weather phenomenon that we experience in Southern California. A marine layer covers the ocean and a few miles inland in the mornings. Sometimes it lasts until late afternoon and only gives a short time of sunny skies.

Food & Beverage in Torrance:

A view of the bakery case filled with donuts and other baked goods, one of the things to do in Torrance.
The bakery case full of delicious baked goods. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

11. Torrance Bakery

We began our tour of Old Town Torrance at Torrance Bakery. Since it was late morning but too early for lunch, we order some baked goods. With rows of fragrant donuts, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and muffins, it was hard to decide which one to try.

My husband got his favorite, an Apple Fritter with apple, cinnamon, and crackly glaze. I chose a blueberry scone that was fresh and moist.

The bakery is open from 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and shortened hours on the weekend.

In addition, the Café is open from 10 am to 4 pm and serves a lunch menu of classic sandwiches. These include freshly baked bread, house-roasted turkey, housemade soups and fresh salads in season.

12. Chado Tea Room

 There is a renewed interest in tea in America, with Chado as a role model. When I first walked into the shop, I was struck by how everything was so organized and the wide variety of teas they offered. The way they present and elevate the tea experience is quite impressive. Although I couldn’t stay and enjoy a cup of tea, I look forward to returning with a reservation.

13. The Ramen Trail

 Torrance earned the moniker “The Ramen Capital of Southern California.” While various broth and noodle soups provide comfort and contentment, only one Japanese soup garners an almost obsessive admiration. That is ramen.

Get the Ramen Map and see for yourself.

14. Shin-Sen-Gumi

 My husband and I enjoyed lunch at the drive-through Shin-Sen-Gumi located in Gardena. Large bowls of broth, fresh, crunchy vegetables, and protein were a nice filling hot lunch.

15. The Brewery Trail

 Are you looking for a well-crafted brew? You may think you’ve gone to brew heaven in Torrance. Known as a hub for Southern California’s craft beer scene, the breweries we visited also serve great food. I’m listing them separately because of their uniqueness. These are must-try breweries.

16. Red Car Brewery

 More than a brewery, Red Car Brewery, located in the historic Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. building, celebrates the Red Cars mass transit system from the 1920s.

Laurie and Bob, the friendly owners of Red Car Brewery for 23 years, proudly shared their story with us. Historical pictures of Torrance, family hops farming, and more decorate the interior walls. Even the beer tanks are historic. Bob purchased used tanks in England and had the 30-year-old tanks clad in cedar for an authentic look.

For lunch, we had the Pulled Pork Sandwich on a delicious King’s Hawaiian Bread roll. World-famous King’s Hawaiian is a local supplier.

17. HopSaint Brewing Company

 If you’re looking for a hopping place to have dinner and great beer, you’ve come to the right place. Our visit started with a 4-flight sample of the 16 house-brewed beers.

Next, we split a tasty appetizer order of deviled eggs with smoked pork, pickled shallots, and chives. When we saw the house smoked salmon salad delivered to guests at the adjacent table, we decided to order the same thing for our entrée. Finally, we finished the meal with the saint–salted caramel, brownie, and burnt marshmallow. It was delicious.

18. The Brews Hall

 The Brews Hall is a multi-concept brewery and food experience. Offering salads, starters, fries, and desserts, it also has specialty restaurant menus on-site. For example, George Lopez’s Chingon Kitchen serves Mexican-themed dishes, and Chicken TWILI. (Chicken The Way I Like It) serves chicken. There’s also Colin Cowherd’s The Herd, which serves burgers and dogs, and Rock’ N Fish Grill, featuring fish and seafood dishes.

My husband and I were fortunate to tour the brewing room with General Manager Ian and to meet Justinian, the brewmaster. I was in awe of the 17 stainless steel tanks and the complex process of brewing beer.

History of Torrance:

19. Torrance Historical Society

Founded in 1973, the Torrance Historical Society and Museum opened in 1979. With a vast collection of local history, they boast a state-of-the-art archive with permanent and varying temporary exhibits.

The Society places bronze plaques on significant historical landmarks throughout the community and has done so for the last 20 years.

Fund-raising events for the community include annual events like tours of historic homes, memorial services for veterans, and celebrations with the Old Torrance Neighborhood Association.

20. Western Museum of Flight

 Torrance Airport is the home of the Western Museum of Flight, a memorial celebrating the rich Southern California Aerospace Legacy. For someone like my husband and me, who worked for a prominent aerospace company on the Space Shuttle Program, the numerous aircraft and exhibits and the model collection is impressive. Many of the companies represented were our competitors in the industry. We couldn’t help feeling nostalgic.

21. Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge

 Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, the Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge was part of the Pacific Electric Railway System. Today, it serves as the gateway to the City of Torrance.

Outdoors in Torrance:

22. Walking tour of Old Town Torrance

We took a self-guided walking tour of historic downtown Torrance where we enjoyed window shopping and discovered Board & Brush, Chado Tea Room, and Red Car Brewery.

23. Miramar Park

 The stretch of Torrance Beach spans from Miramar Park on the northern side to Malaga Cove Beach, also known as RAT Beach, on the southern end. Unfortunately, homes on the bluff prevent access to beach areas further south of RAT Beach as there are no public rights of way.

24. Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market

 I always enjoy visiting a farmers’ market when I see a destination. It tells so much about a region and its customs. The beauty of fresh produce, flowers, and mobile food is a wonderful experience. The Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market is open from 8 am to 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You’ll want to get a good parking spot in the lot or on the street early.

25. Torrance Antique Street Faire

 The Torrance Antique Street Faire, created by The Downtown Torrance Association in the late 1990s to bring shoppers back to the downtown area, is a popular monthly destination. Hosted one Sunday a month, over 200 vendors attract thousands of people to the streets lined with trees, spacious walkways, and renovated buildings.

26. Los Arboles Rocketship Park

 The Los Arboles Park, also known as Rocketship Park, is adjacent to Riviera Elementary School. The outstanding feature of this park is the three-story-tall Rocketship offering a picturesque view of the entire City of Torrance. You can see as far as the Getty Center north of Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign, and the Griffith Park Observatory. The lunar module replica is the iconic four-level metal rocket that was the setting for 1960s playground scenes. The park is handicapped accessible with a picnic area.

A view of the entrance path to the Madrona Marsh Preserve with spring flowers, one of the things to do in Torrance.
The entrance to Madrona Marsh Preserve in spring. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

27. Madrona Marsh Preserve

The Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center is an accessible preserve in suburbia. The 42-acre marsh, encircled by city streets, has only one entrance and a gate across the street from the Nature Center.

One of the last vernal freshwater marshes in Los Angeles County, the wetlands at Madrona Marsh provides a migratory flyway for birds and a habitat for insects, reptiles, frogs, and small mammals.

When we were there in the spring, the water level was relatively high because of Southern California’s exceptionally abundant 2023 winter rains.

The Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center is free to the public and has limited hours, so call ahead to confirm the open hours. Most programs are free and special programs may require a modest donation. All ages are welcome, from young children in strollers to seniors wishing to explore the preserve with a trained docent.

28. Wilson Park

 Wilson Park is a family- and pet-friendly destination in the City of Torrance. The park is handicapped accessible, home to the Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market and the Tree House. Here are some other great features:

  • Picnic areas
  • Barbecues
  • Playground
  • Bouncer accessible
  • Softball diamonds
  • Basketball courts
  • Sand volleyball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Horseshoe courts
  • Fitness course – .91 mile
  • Fitness equipment
  • Universally accessible tree house
  • Paddle tennis/pickleball courts
  • Roller hockey rink
  • Indoor sports center
  • Outdoor amphitheater
  • Batting cages
  • Live steamers railroad
  • Splash pad (open April – December)
  • Electric car charging stations
  • Restrooms

When we were there, tai chi practitioners were exercising, a group was working out to music on the basketball court, and we had fun strolling through the tree house.

29. Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House

A full view of the Annenberg Tree House in Wilson Park, one of the things to do in Torrance.
The Annenberg Tree House in Wilson Park. Photo credit: Julie Diebolt Price

Bragging rights are well-earned for the Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House. It’s the first universally-accessible tree house in a public space in California.

Donated by the Annenberg Foundation, the wooden Tree House structure is 2,500 square feet and offers an awe-inspiring experience for physically challenged children and adults.

You don’t have to be physically challenged to enjoy the Tree House. I spent at least 15 minutes walking on all the levels and observing other activities happening in the park.

A Convenient Place To Stay

The Best Western Plus Avita Suites is ideal if you’re looking for a convenient place to stay in Torrance. Our third-floor suite was perfect for our needs for a two-night stay. The front office staff was cheerful and friendly, parking and room access by the elevator was convenient, and the breakfast was remarkable. There were many hot and cold meal options, and the smiling staff kept every table clean and ready for the next guest.

The Torrance Cultural Arts Center was a short walk away from our hotel. We could attend the Armstrong Theater or the Torrance Art Museum without driving. While we could have walked to the Del Amo Fashion Center, saving your energy for shopping therapy in the 200 stores is better.

There are lots of options for hotel stays near Torrance. Use this interactive map to help you find a place to stay in the area.

Side Trips From Torrance

 Beverly Hills and Hollywood are about 30 miles north of Torrance, where you can shop on Rodeo Drive, see the Hollywood sign from the Griffith Park Observatory, and look for celebrities.

Santa Monica Pier, one of the most-photographed locations in the world, is just 21 miles away. You can make a day of it with all there is to see and do on the pier.

San Diego is about 100 miles south of Torrance. Driving along Pacific Coast Highway and Interstate 5 is picturesque. However, be patient because traffic can be slow in the SoCal beach towns.

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