Momma Told Me: 10 Reasons Why I Keep Going Back To Torrance, CA

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10 Reasons Why I Keep Going Back To Torrance, CA

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10 Reasons to Visit Torrance, CA on your next trip to Southern California. #DiscoverTorrance #AD
As a native of Southern California there are a few things I realize I take for granted.

While I was born in New York my parents moved to California (where my mother's family was) as soon as I was old enough to travel. The first half of my childhood was spent in the 'valley' close to big cities and major attractions, but also in the middle of the heat. The second half was spent out on a coastal town, some 20 degrees cooler on average, where life moved a little slower and people were a bit more friendly. Both locales were filled with streets lined with palm trees an that California vibe that only those who have visited, or live here, can really understand.

I've traveled up and down this great state countless times. Anyone who doesn't live here always seems to make a beeline for the amusement parks and La La Land. But anyone who has done and seen it all will tell you there is a true gem to seek respite in on your Southern California travels, Torrance, CA.

Torrance is the best of both worlds an the perfect mecca for travelers seeking both the relaxed vibe of gorgeous Southern California beaches, while still enjoying the entertainment and sightseeing of Los Angeles county. Just 15 minutes from the LAX airport this city is within easy driving distance to most of those popular LA County attractions (Staples Center, Universal Studios, Anaheim Stadium, and more) yet somehow feels like it's own little bubble in California time and space.

It it's convenience hasn't convinced you then maybe I should share some of my favorite things to do in Torrance, CA. Oh yes, Torrance is full of an amazing variety of attraction and culinary secrets any traveler would love to add to their stories- and many of my favorites don't cost anything at all. In fact, we like to plan a day, or overnight stay, in Torrance anytime we have plans to catch a concert in Los Angeles, or to visit family that lives further inland. You could call it a tradition of sorts.

Let's take a peek at some of the things we insist on doing whenever we are in Torrance- here are my Top 10 Reasons Why I Keep Going Back.....(In no particular order)
The Local Place King's Hawaiian Torrance, CA #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#1 King's Hawaiian

Whenever we plan on visiting Torrance, or even stopping  there for lunch on a road trip, we make a point to visit one of the 2 King's Hawaiian eateries in town.  If you didn't even know a King's Hawaiian restaurant existed, let alone that it was a chain, then you're probably pretty excited to learn there is not 1, but 2 in this SoCal city.

But don't be fooled- they are each very unique outside of carrying the delicious King's Hawaiian baked goods and mentality. The main restaurant, King's Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant on Sepulvada Blvd, is a large chain style family eatery with a luscious Big Island themed menu and full service restaurant attached to an active King's Hawaiian bakery and gift shop. It's generally where the tourists go- and for good reason. The food is not only delicious but beautifully plated as well. You'll also find special one-of-a-kind King's Hawaiian treats such as Jalapeno Rolls, Candy Leis, Double Chunk Cookies, Rainbow Bread and more.
After visiting the main restaurant you probably would think you'd have no interest in seeking out yet another King's Hawaiian eatery but The Local Place, bakery and cafe, is a completely different menu and vibe. Not only are they adjacent to an actual King's Hawaiian factory (it doesn't get much fresher folks) but they serve a special frozen treat typically reserved for theme parks and resorts. Stop by King's Hawaiian The Local Place and be sure to grab yourself a large Pineapple Dole Whip any day of the year without large amusement park lines or prices.
The Local Place King's Hawaiian #DiscoverTorrance #AD
Of course we go to The Local Place for more than just our Dole Whip fix- It's menu truly features some inspired authentic Big Island cuisine at great prices. You won't find the fancy presentation of the higher end dishes at the main restaurant but you will find a fast counter-style service and a fair amount of indoor and outdoor seating.

This is our favorite place to stop by for lunch- we know we will get our delicious food fast, and the atmosphere is always a buzz with actual locals. If you're new to Southern California this is the perfect place to ask around about some of the truly best foodie joints and less advertised local attractions. After all, the locals always know, right?

If you stop in be sure to try the Pulled Pork Sandwich- which sounds ordinary any mundane but comes with tender pork slathered in top secret Hawaiian BBQ Sauce topped with Macadamia Nut Onion Rings (truly one of my top 5 things, ever), in between a King's Hawaiian Sweet Bun. And if you have small children- you'll love the indoor tropical fish tank to keep small eyes fascinated during meal time.
Western Museum of Flight Torrance, CA #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#2 The Western Museum of Flight

Ironically this favorite doesn't even appear on the city's travel and tourism website under museums. An oversight that clearly benefits it's weekly patrons, but really seems to be a disservice to the general population. Aviation and mechanics really is more of Jay's thing. We have an air museum nearby our home and I haven't set foot in it in over 20 years. But the Torrance Western Museum of Flight is a true gem that offers travelers an up close, and casual stroll through aviation history. Simply make a suggested $5 donation at the check-in desk then wander 2 massive hangars full of real historical aircraft.
Western Museum of Flight Torrance, CA #DiscoverTorrance #AD
Let me emphasize- I am by no means an aviation gal, but we spent about 2 hours here on our last visit and I could have easily spent longer. There truly is something to delight the mind of any age or background. While I enjoyed the more novel things- such as getting up close and personal with the trolley cart of a Good Year blimp, sticking my head inside a jet engine, and sitting inside a De-commisioned fighter jet the volunteer staff was amazing. We were allowed to wander between exhibits without being followed or pestered, yet also had a wealth of information available to us upon request.
The Torrance Western Museum of Flight is on an active air-strip at the Torrance municipal airport. It also happens to be situated just a few hangars down from a very popular helicopter manufacturer and you can often catch glimpses of test chopper flights in the late afternoon. Seeing as that's probably as close as I'll ever be to a moving helicopter I found that pretty cool.
And if you really want to know a locals secret- ask if Niel White is volunteering (or call ahead to request) on the day of your visit and request a special trip to visit the 'big toys' in their special off sight lot. He'll drive you about 4 minutes away (and through the active taxi-way and past the helicopter hangars) to an amazing once in a life time lot of 5 very special aircraft. As he unlocks the top secret gate's padlock he'll joke about letting you 'kick the tires' and you can literally get up and close with some historical aircraft, most of which are but 1 of a handful in existence. The YF23 prototype air vehicle and a gorgeous F-14 Tom Cat are but 2 of the massive aircraft that await.
Los Arboles Rocketship Park Torrance, CA Overlook #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#3 City of Torrance Los Arboles "Rocketship Park"

Any local knows about the rocketship. Torrance has over 30 unique parks and recreation sights to see, with at least 10 defined parks that we've visited, the Sea-Air golf park, the Annenburg Public Tree House, Madrona Marsh Preserve, the South Coast Botanic Garden and so much more. But, if you ask the locals which parks to prioritize and visit, you'll be told time and time again to make the winding drive up to Los Arboles.
Sure, there's a giant metal rocketship, multi-tiered play house, and a lunar landing jungle gym next to it. If you have children I'm sure you're sold on that alone- if I were young enough to fit inside either I'd probably never leave! Clearly it's a huge hit with the mothers and families of Torrance, as the park is always bustling. In general this park is massive, well kept, with several large shady trees and is perfect for an afternoon picnic before heading out to a nearby attraction, or to the beach.

But this unsuspecting Rocketship Park is more than a cool retro jungle gym and some well kept grounds. It happens to be the most breath-taking overlook you'll find without having to put on hiking boots and a backpack. You can drive right up to the park, take about 100 steps towards the sand lot and see the best parts of L.A. County in either direction. You can even see the stunning Torrance State Beach! Most importantly there are benches conveniently set at the edge of the sandlot so you can sit and look out at the city feeling as though you truly are on the edge of the world.
#4 Torrance Beach

I feel like I've seen almost every mile of beach up and down this long coastal state. I even live a walk from the beach in my home town- but I honestly don't do more than walk the pier or grab a bite at the boardwalk there. It's a beach but it's not the sort of beach you hear of when people are romancing Southern California.

Torrance Beach, however, is what people dream of when they think of the West Coast. It's small and humble but un-crowded with 1.5 miles of pristine shore, plenty of parking, and a 22-mile coastal bike path. It's also lined with hundreds of eateries (for the foodie in you) and stunning views of Paols Verdes Peninsula. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite views in Southern California and the long winding concrete wall that lines the street above is perfect for sitting on and watching the sun set.
#5 Location and Hotels

While I can't stress enough how much we actually vacation IN Torrance when we plan travels or road trips, a big draw to staying in Torrance is it's prime location to major tourist attractions in Los Angeles county. But Torrance Blvd, in Torrance is lined with some amazing hotels where one can literally walk to several tourist attractions found in Torrance, including the massive Del Amo Fashion Center (which we'll get to later). And, being only 15 minutes from LAX airport it's very convenient for those flying in and out of town to enjoy convenient shuttle service without the stress and bustle of the city hotel pricing and stress.
Torrance Art MuseumTorrance Art Museum
#6 Torrance Art Museum


This absolutely free stop in Torrance just might be one of my favorite. This unassuming building in the cultural district of Torrance is an easy to get to laid back arts and culture experience. While the California Museum of Fine Art (or, Cal Muse, as it's known) often garners the most attention from tourists I find that the Torrance Art Museum has a much larger variety of exhibits from local artists with a significantly more 'hands on' focus.

You'll find video and full scale physical installations, audio displays, static works of art and even get to participate in living art installments such as the mixed media installation "I Stand For...." by Linda Pollack, featured below. The exhibits seem to refresh and change from one season to the next and the museum feels as though it's ever-changing, making it a permanent stop on my route whenever I visit Torrance.
#IStandFor Torrance Art Museum #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#IStandFor Torrance Art Museum #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#IStandFor Torrance Art Museum #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#IStandFor Torrance Art Museum #DiscoverTorrance #AD
One of the things I specifically enjoy about Torrance Museum of Art is the wide range of art styles and media installments one will find there. Whether you consider yourself an art snob, or not, you will be fascinated by the opportunity to get up and close without the sound or atmosphere of a herding crowd. On our most recent visit Jay and I had the entire place to ourselves giving us plenty of time to really inspect, and contribute to, the interactive 'I Stand For...' exhibit.
#7 Shopping- Including the Del Amo Fashion Center

I don't want to give the impression that the Del Amo Fashion Center is the only shopping destination you should seek out when visiting Torrance. While it IS the 5th largest shopping mall in America, with over 200 store-fronts that span 3 levels of indoor and outdoor shopping, I'm personally not a big 'label' and 'big brand' shopper. However, it's conveniently located to major hotels (in most cases across the street) and the air conditioned 3-story shopping mall features ample roaming space thanks to it's beautiful architecture.
If shopping till you drop is your thing then the Del Amo Fashion center is pure heaven- one could spend days wandering from storefront to storefront and not get bored. I especially love their touch-screen interactive maps where you can search for and locate your favorite shops with clear directions to get there!
#8 Mitsuwa Marketplace

So it might sound funny that a Japanese grocery store falls on my list of must visit places in Torrance but it's one of 3 Los Angeles County locations people drive for hours to shop at for a reason. With generous hours (9-9pm) you can plan on swinging by after a full day of exploration and still have plenty of time to discover what Mutsuwa is all about.

There's a bit of an initial culture shock when you first walk in- you'll enter facing the full product department and grocery store on your left and a full Japanese marketplace and food court on your right. Nearly all of the items sold are direct imports from Japan, but the packaging (ingredient labels, etc) is translated in English for non speaking consumers.

I won't lie- I look forward to visiting Mitsuwa Marketplace for months- we always come back with bags full of delicious authentic Japanese snacks and treats. Most recently I discovered a seasoning base for authentic Chinese BBQ Char Siu that we've become hooked on. And, of course, the Ramune soda case is an exciting stop on our shopping trips. We even take special requests from friends and family to bring back some authentic sweets and treats!
If you're not familiar with Japanese snacks and food culture you still might want to stop in for the marketplace portion of the store. You'll find a full-service food court with delicious fresh caught and made sushi, a mochi dessert case, and several small booth style vendors selling an array of gadgets and hot items straight from Japan. There's plenty of Kawaii to go around and you're sure to find a unique gift for that hard to shop for person back at home!
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot #DiscoverTorrance #AD
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot #DiscoverTorrance #AD
#10 Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

I feel conflicted about putting a specific restaurant on this list as Torrance is known for, and certainly has, some of the most authentic and unique Asian cuisine. Really any foodie can spend days eating their way through the city as there are so many 'hole in the wall' and tongue-in-cheek pop up eateries, each with their own twist on various popular foods.

But Little Sheep represents a specific type of food, in a very friendly commercial manner, that many consumers otherwise might never have a chance to discover. This 'Hot Pot' restaurant features one-of-a-kind dining you would otherwise only find in a little restaurant tucked away in Chinatown, or overseas in it's origin country.

Diners are seated at tables equipped with a working infrared hot pad and asked to choose a Spicy or Original broth as their base. They then have the option of ordering a-la-cart, or all you can eat from a menu of fresh vegetables and proteins. Each item (whether it be mini sweet corn cobs, fried tofu, or lamb shoulder) comes out on mini platters and diners drop their selections into the boiling communal pot of broth as they desire. The flavorful broth cooks the items inside within minutes and a variety of ladles are provided to either spoon or strain items from the broth mixture.

Enjoy your servings as a soup, or stained over rice or noodles. It's a unique cooking experience full of authentic flavor which offers a little bit of something for everyone at your table!
So there you have it, my favorite 10 reasons to visit Torrrance, CA- but far from all of my reasons. Honestly, when asked to describe Torrance to an out-of-state friend the other day my reply was, "It's the best of both worlds, really. It's full of culture, endless things to do, delicious food, a gorgeous beach, and you can see all the big attractions without traveling far." A few weeks back we visited, once again, for a few days and I still found myself regretting a lack of time to get everything on our list done. It's reasons like that which truly keep us coming back!



16 comments:

  1. Wow, you really made me want to fly halfway across the country to visit Torrance. Everything looks beyond amazing-especially Kings Hawaiian Bakery..yummy! #client

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  2. You made me want to go to Torrance. I have been to California many times but I've never been to Torrance California. It looks like there's a lot of fun that I missing so I'm pretty sure I need to get my butt over there and check it.

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  3. Torrance is a great place to visit. I live in Southern California and have only been there once. I used to think that it was boring, but you've shown me a side of Torrance that I did not know existed.

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  4. We love going to Torrance Beach. Its beautiful and the drive up Palos Verdes from that beach is incredible! Its a must for those traveling to the area for sure. Looks like you guys had a great vacation.

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  5. These photos tell the MOST amazing story! Of course you keep going back, it is AWESOME!!!! Thanks for sharing all this fabulousness!!

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  6. I need to visit JUST to go to King's Hawaiian! I cannot get enough of their yummy bread and didn't even know they had a restaurant chain.

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  7. Gosh this seems like such a cool place to visit and explore! I'd love to pick up some Japanese snacks while in the marketplace!

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  8. I had no idea there was so much to do in Torrance. We LOVE the King's Hawaiian buns, so that would be a fun place to stop. And the beach! Yes please!

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  9. Wow no wonder you keep going back to Torrance. I would love to go check out all of these places starting with The Western Museum of Flight.

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  10. Torrance looks like a great place to go relax. I would love to try 2 King's Hawaiian eateries.

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  11. Those are some very nice photos. I've never been to California before. It's one of the states I would love to visit sometime though.

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  12. I love California! I haven't been there in years but it's on the list of places I want to bring my family to. Adding Torrance to the list of must-visit places while I'm in my favorite state :)

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  13. It looks like you found some really fun and unique places to visit in Torrance. I had no clue King's Hawaiian had restaurants but I would LOVE to check one of them out someday.

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  14. These look so fun! I didn't know there are more fun places in California we've never been to! Can't wait to visit these places!

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  15. Wow this all looks like so much fun! Just recently tried Kings Hawaiian, I could only imagine how good the rest of the fresh goods are!

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  16. There is so much to see and do here. The food looks fabulous as well.

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