(credit: Mitsuwa.com)

Celebrating its centennial in 2012, Torrance is a diverse city located in LA’s South Bay. The city is accessible from all directions with Pacific Coast Highway winding through the southwestern part of town while the 405 and 110 freeways intersect on the eastside.

(credit: TorranceBakery.com)

Historic “Old Torrance” is the home of family owned Torrance Bakery. Serving a wide variety of baked goods, cakes for special occasions and seasonal specialties, this local favorite is always busy. Be sure to grab a numbered ticket as you walk in the door. The bakery actually encompasses much of the city block as it includes a cake showroom and the recently opened sandwich café serving soups, salads and sandwiches until late afternoon.

(credit: redcarbrewery.com)

The Red Car trolley lines served much of Los Angeles for a good part of the last century. Then, the automobile became king and the trolley lines faded away. Red Car Brewery is one local establishment that pays homage to the red car’s history in Torrance. The husband and wife team of Bob & Laurie Brandt have played a vital role in the revitalization of Old Torrance since opening their upscale-casual eatery in 2000. Bob makes all the beer and offers a rotating selection of “artisan style-ales made with fresh quality English ingredients” on tap. Red Car also features live music on weekends featuring a varied line up of local favorites. If you are there in the autumn, be sure to try the pumpkin ale, a local favorite that always sells out.

(credit: miyakohybridhotel.com)

Torrance is home to the US offices of many Japanese companies. The Miyako Hybrid Hotel, part of the Miyako Hotel chain, certainly caters to Japanese clients, but is popular with guests of every nationality. The hotel embodies the “green” ethos in every element possible. Some examples are: constructed with sustainable materials, solar panels, energy efficient lighting, no Styrofoam, and non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products. Guests rave about the cleanliness of the hotel and the amazing Japanese-style bathrooms. Great location provides convenient access to LAX, Los Angeles and Anaheim tourist attractions.

(credit: Mitsuwa.com)

For generations, Torrance has meant home for immigrants from all over the Pacific Rim. A huge variety of merchants cater to this clientele. One of the most prominent stores is Mitsuwa Marketplace, known as “The Largest Japanese Supermarket in the US”. Even non-Japanese customers love to visit Mitsuwa for its grocery store meets mall meets food court offerings. If you are looking for a certain brand of Japanese cosmetics, gifts or snacks…You’ll likely find it here.

(credit: friendsofmadronamarsh.com)

The opportunity to explore nature in an urban setting is the amazing gift you receive when visiting Madrona Marsh, the last remaining vernal marsh in Los Angele County. The 10 acre marsh preserve is a remnant of once extensive natural systems of forests, swamps and wetlands that existed along the coast of Southern California. A wide variety of wildlife, some of which are endangered, can be seen at different times of the year. The starting point of a visit is the visitor center which includes a gift shop. Madrona Marsh is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. Be sure to check the site’s online calendar for the latest events.

When Elizabeth Peterson isn’t driving around the Greater Los Angeles area in her minivan looking for interesting stuff to report about, she can be found writing about her adventures on her blog, Traded My BMW For a Minivan.