Okay, I’ll admit it. Up until recently, I didn’t know much about Torrance. Sure, I knew it was a quick drive from San Diego and it was somewhere near Redondo Beach. But other than that, I was clueless. Even my husband Marc didn’t know a lot about Torrance and he’s the ultimate Southern California tour guide. So imagine our surprise, when we finally got the chance to spend some time in this charming little beach town. All I could think was… what a treat AND I should have done this sooner!
Our drive to Torrance was a breeze. We went up on a Sunday afternoon so the freeway was quiet. Although the drive was less than two hours, we couldn’t wait to get out of the car and hop on our bikes. We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel Torrance/South Bay.which is a perfect location if you want to be near the beach but don’t want to spend a bundle. The rooms are spacious, the swimming pool/hot tub combo is a true hidden oasis and the warm chocolate chip cookies they serve at check-in are a nice touch. Not only that, if you’re a shopper (like me!), the Del Amo Fashion Center aka the 5th largest mall in the U.S. is right across the street from the Doubletree plus you’re just minutes away from the heart of Old Torrance. (More on this cool part of town later!)
After we checked in, we rode our bikes to Torrance Beach. The ride was super easy and before we knew it, we were pedaling on a paved bike path that ran parallel to the beach. On the other side of the bike path, were funky beach houses. We didn’t have a care in the world! If you’ve never been to Torrance Beach, it has a cool vibe. Volleyball nets and swing sets for kids line the white, sandy beaches so it’s a great family environment. The bike path is also very flat so it’s ideal for people of all fitness levels. We rode to Hermosa Beach but if you enjoy biking and have a lot of time, our suggestion is to make it a day and ride to Venice Beach.
Later that night, we decided to check out Old Torrance so we ate at a new place called 1321 taproom bistro. Even though it had only been open for a few weeks, it had a good “local feel,” the kind of place where everyone knows your name. The restaurant was super packed and there were lots of excited sports fans cheering and hollering. Oh, did I mention it was the NBA Playoffs and the waitress sat us right in front of a HUGE high-def flat screen? Marc was in heaven. Shouldn’t I get wife points for this?
The menu offered everything from barbecue lamb ribs to Ale Braised Mussels & Clams to Calamari Tacos. With so much to choose from, it was tough to narrow down but we eventually went with the MOD Burger, Fish & Chips and a shared plate of Pale Ale Mac. This all sounds harmless but boy, were we stuffed! The MOD Burger was juicy and tender and the fish and chips platter was a crunchy,delicious pacific halibut. The Mac & Cheese was the perfect comfort food but beware… it’s addictive! For dessert, our waitress Careth recommended the homemade brownie with gelato – a decadent, creamy dessert with salty caramel and chocolate buttered cream frosting. Wow.
1321 is no doubt a nice addition to Old Torrance. This historical Downtown area is a quiet, laid back town that’s free of all the hustle and bustle of bigger cities. If you do visit, don’t rush through this Downtown area as there are numerous hidden gems like antique shops and restaurants that are worth checking out. Our favorite place was the Torrance Bakery. as everything smelled so fresh! Strolling through the neighborhoods of Old Torrance is also enjoyable, especially if you appreciate unique looking homes. The houses are charming and each has its own style.
For more information on Torrance, check out Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump from America’s Finest City… a perfect weekend getaway for San Diegans!
Darlynne Reyes Menkin is a travel & lifestyle reporter based in sunny San Diego. When she’s not digging for fun stories, she and her husband Marc run Where You Want To Be Tours, a company that specializes in unique team building Scavenger Hunts and tours of hidden San Diego.