Long Beach has Gwen Stefani and Snoop, Orange County has the Real Housewives – and right in the middle, neither here nor there, is Torrance.

It’s a slightly out-of-the-way neighborhood with a lot less star power, but some classic LA attractions: think craft breweries, hidden beaches, the biggest Oktoberfest in southern California, a quintessential mall, and antique shops galore. It’s also an affordable Southbay neighborhood (a term growing more foreign and more sought-after in the LA housing market), close to livelier Redondo Beach and picturesque Palos Verdes.

We have to admit that the Sunday we spent in the ‘hood was a bit sleepy (and a chunk of businesses were closed), but how often are we complaining about parking and crowds in Los Angeles? This place has space aplenty. With a connection to Japanese culture, the food options are solid, the beach is close, and there is a real focus on community. So forget “Doggystyle” and find yourself a little farther north in Torrance.

Stop 1: Mama Says

This isn’t Venice, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some really great health-food options in the area. Mama Says is located in a shopping center (next to the Whole Foods!) and offers freshly-made food with plenty of vegan options.

We gravitated toward the “create-your-own” menu, choosing both a salad and a wrap (you can pick a sandwich, salad, or wrap and then choose your protein, veggie, and dressing options). We ordered the rosemary garlic chicken wrap and a fresh salmon salad, plus mint lemonade. All the dressings are made in-store.

(2621 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance)

Stop 2: Street Faire Antiques

Antique shopping seems to be a big thing in the neighborhood. There’s the Torrance Antique Street Faire, and a whole block with a variety of second-hand and antique shops. The street fair happens on the 4th Sunday of every month, and you can find anything from 80s Cabbage Patch dolls to rocking chairs to Diana Ross albums. Come with a plan and without a fear of dolls.

(1317 Sartori Ave, Torrance)

Stop 3: 85 Degree Bakery

All that healthy eating meant we were good to stuff our faces with Taiwanese pastries, right? RIGHT. This is the one place that was PACKED on our day – it seems like the rest of Torrance spends their Sundays eating cakes, too. We walked in and ogled the walls lined with wacky breads, eventually placing several on our tray.

We chose the chocolate cookie bread (cuz YES), the marble taro bread, and the squid ink bacon bread (cuz WHAT?) We stood in line with dozens of other people holding trays teeming with pastries, and then ordered two iced matcha lattes with soy milk AND BOBA (oh, hi. This is a thing). People-watching is also on point. (Just don’t go before your Weight Watchers weigh-in).

(1735 W Carson St, Torrance)

Stop 4: Charles Wilson Park

Okay, so now that we had indulged, we felt it necessary to get outside and get in some steps. The Charles Wilson Park is one of the very best green spaces in the neighborhood, with batting cages, a roller rink, basketball courts, a duck pond, a giant treehouse, and so much more.

We explored the Annenberg Tree House, the first universally-accessible tree house in a public space in California (it’s 2500 square feet! Way bigger than our real house). There’s winding paths, views of the park, and it’s designed for children (and adults?!) of all physical abilities and sizes. We spent some time watching a local derby team practice on skates, and then paid $1 to hit a dozen softballs each in the batting cages.

(2200 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance)

Stop 5: Primo Italia

This dinner stop was a real unexpected delight. We’d been hearing about Primo for a few months now, a charming Italian restaurant with a Peruvian-Italian chef. We were picturing a sweet family-run spot with checkered tablecloths, but walked into a beautifully-designed neighborhood restaurant with a warm vibe and delectable pastas.

We started with wine (of course!) although their scratch cocktails on the next table looked divine. All the pasta at Primo’s is made my hand (the way Italian grandmothers intended it to be), and the restaurant takes the LA “shop local” value to heart: they get all their peaches, squash blossoms, and olives from a friend with an acre of farm land up the road. We ordered the Burrata and Peach salad and Tri Colori Salad to start, and both were super flavorful and tasted the way we imagine a summer supper in Italy tastes. We followed with a prosciutto and artichoke heartpizza and the Testaroli al Pesto, which was a stand-out: a traditional pasta that is almost like a savory crepe. Stop by, say hello to Lou, and figure out a way to book a standing reservation.

(24590 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance)

Stop 5: Monkish Brewing Co.

The craft beer scene has really emerged in LA over the last few years, and no place is that more evident than in Torrance. With Monkish, Smog City, The Dudes’ and Strand Brewing all in the area, you can make a whole day of beer-tasting. We opted to meet friends at Monkish, a smaller brewery that’s BYOF (bring your own food). We tried a smattering of beers, with the sour beers amongst our favorites.

Insider’s Tip: order from King Mediterrano. They have some of the best Mediterranean food in town.

(20311 S Western Ave, Torrance)

The Details:

Torrance is a bit more spread out than many other Southbay neighborhoods, but we got by with a mix of bike, walking, and Uber. The Torrance Transit System can also be a good option.

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