Get Out of Town!
Fun To-dos in Torrance
March, 2012 - Issue #89
Pick a new place to visit and you might be surprised at what you learn.

Take Torrance for instance. I knew it was in the South Bay, just off the 405 Freeway. And since I recently read Unbroken, I also knew it's the hometown of Louis Zamperini, famed Olympic medalist, World War II hero and fellow USC Trojan.

But that's about where my knowledge ended.

I didn't know that Torrance boasts the fifth-largest mall in America (Del Amo Fashion Center). Or that it was a planned community laid out 100 years ago by the same landscape architect who designed the White House grounds (Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr.). Or that it's an up-and-coming tourist destination.

"Torrance is angling for the SPOTLIGHT
and trying to make a name for itself.
And for good reason -
it has a lot to offer."

Surrounded by more famous neighbors like Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance is angling for the spotlight and trying to make a name for itself. And for good reason - it has a lot to offer.

Stay and Play
Although Torrance is close enough for a day-trip, you might need the weekend to make the most of it. Lodging options are plentiful - even for a family of six. We appreciated the chance to spread out in a two-bed, two-bath unit at the Staybridge Suites. The bountiful breakfast bar (fresh-cooked waffles and whipped cream!) and the heated pool moved the hotel to the top of the kids' All-Time Favorite list.

Donuts, Bratwurst & Knife Sharpening?
Yes, the selection at the Torrance Farmers Market, held 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Charles H. Wilson Park, goes way beyond fresh fruits and veggies.

We perused rows of booths offering everything from grass-fed bison, to raw milk, to knife-sharpening. And that was before we found the United Nations-like potpourri of food vendors. Peruvian. Mexican. Thai. Tamales. Kettle Corn. Crepes.

The kids had no trouble reaching a decision about what they wanted: the wholesome fried goodness of made-to-order Hawaiian donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and stuffed with gooey strawberry, chocolate, banana or sweet cream filling.

Definitely Not a Bored Walk
OK, so the Redondo Pier is not technically in Torrance, but it is adjacent to the 1.5-mile long Torrance Beach. And besides, the water is way too cold in the winter, so we skipped the beach and headed for the pier.

There, you can catch a harbor cruise, book a glass-bottom boat tour or rent stand-up paddle boards. We didn't need to do any of that. Our kids were excited to spot sea stars hiding among the rocks at the bottom of the harbor, chase sea gulls and marvel at the life-size outlines of whales, dolphins and other sea creatures etched into the concrete walkway.

Take a Bike
If you want to cover more ground and explore the beach scene beyond the pier, bring a bike. The Strand, Southern California's iconic 22-mile walking/jogging/biking path, runs 22 miles between Torrance and Santa Monica. Depending on your pace, it can be a full-day adventure or just a leisurely jaunt like ours, punctuated by fish tacos and pizza at Scotty's on the Strand.

Retail Detail
Big doesn't begin to describe the Del Amo Fashion Center. Overwhelming would be more accurate. We explored for a bit, but I feared never finding our way out. Or at least reaching the other side and finding that our kids were too tired to walk back to the car. I know we just scratched the surface, but I'm sure we'll be back soon for a more thorough visit. As a father of three girls, there's a lot of shopping in my future.
Eric Harnish lives in Castaic.

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