Blake Walsh

16 Free Things to Do in Torrance, CA

  • Published 2023/01/04

Conceived as a “Planned Modern Industrial City,” Torrance boasts a wide variety of fun destinations with plenty of free activities.

This city is in southwestern Los Angeles County, with the Pacific Ocean to its west.

Torrance was named after Jared Sidney Torrance, a real estate developer who promoted its development in 1910.

The city was formally incorporated in 1921 and has made its mark state-wide and nationally.

This coastal city received the All-America City Award in 1956 and was named a finalist for this honor in 2011.

Torrance offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation that locals and visitors can enjoy for free.

Check out these free things to do in Torrance, California:

Ride the Train of the SCLS Miniature Railroad

Railway station at Southern California Live Steamers

The Image Party /

The nonprofit Southern California Live Steamers (SCLS) is offering free train rides on the miniature railroad it has set up at Charles H. Wilson Park.

This fun facility is located at the park’s southeast corner on Washington Avenue.

The free rides are available every first Sunday and third Saturday of each month, as well as on the 4th of July.

A small picnic area is also available near the miniature railroad during its regular monthly runs.

Other activities of SCLS, which was founded in the 1940s, are worth checking out, as they celebrate the rich history of railroads in Torrance.

Stroll amid Cherry Blossoms at Columbia Park

This park on 190th Street is Torrance’s largest at 52 acres and boasts a grove of 110 cherry trees that blossom in spring.

With this endearing feature, Columbia Park hosts the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, traditionally held in late March.

Access to the festival is open and free to the public and includes various multicultural activities and performances.

These festival attractions include lessons on origami, highlighting the influence of the city’s Japanese community, which is the largest in the U.S.

Columbia Park, on ordinary days, draws visitors to its 1.33-mile exercise path and its various sports fields.

These sports arenas include four lighted soccer fields, a sand volleyball court, a lighted softball field, horseshoe courts, and bocce ball courts.

In addition, the park features an amphitheater, a gazebo, barbecue grills, concession stands, a grassy open field, kids’ play equipment, and restrooms.

Visit the Annenberg Tree House at Wilson Park

Tree house at Wilson Park

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Wilson Park, which is also accessible via Crenshaw Boulevard, offers more besides free mini-train rides.

Here, you can also visit the Annenberg Tree House, the first universally accessible tree house in a California public place.

The 2,500-square-foot wooden tree house offers an awe-inspiring bird’s eye view of Wilson Park.

Clock at Wilson Park

The Image Party /

Visitors of all ages and physical abilities can enjoy this unique experience made possible through the Annenberg Foundation, which has built 30 such treehouses nationally.

Other visitors’ delight in the 44-acre Wilson Park includes tennis courts, softball diamonds, batting cages, and pickleball courts.

It also features a roller hockey rink, basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness course, and an amphitheater.

Have Fun at the International Surf Festival

The annual International Surf Festival is a multi-day event typically held in early August.

Its various activities center not only on Torrance Beach but extend to its three neighbors—Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

Thousands of visitors flock to this festival which has grown as one of the signature events of Los Angeles County’s South Bay.

During the International Surf Festival, you can watch not only surfing competitions but also other sports happenings.

These include beach volleyball, boat races, foot races, and lifeguard competitions.

Explore Torrance Public Art

Torrance takes pride in its public art installed in prominent public places that city visitors can conveniently explore in a self-guided tour.

Miramar Park on Paseo de la Playa at the southwestern edge of Torrance displays an endearing public art in its sculpture “Dreaming of the Kiss.”

It depicts a large frog sculpted in bronze with arms crossed and looking toward the beach as if waiting for princes and her liberating kiss.

Another point of interest in Miramar Park is an untitled sculpture of a dolphin which serves as a commemorative piece on the historic site of the circa 1930s Hollywood Riviera Beach Club.

At Seaside Heroes Park on Anza Avenue, public art greets visitors at the pillars at the park’s entrance.

The pillars highlight a colorful band of tiles that Torrance community members painted.

Enjoy Beach and Ocean Views at Miramar Park

Benches overlooking at Miramar Park

A. La Canfora /

Miramar Park is located atop a bluff at Paseo de la Playa and Calle Miramar in South Torrance.

This 1.6-acre park draws visitors for its overlooking views of the 1.5-mile-long Torrance Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

This park is well-maintained, featuring a sprinkler system and security lighting.

Scenic view of Miramar Park

A. La Canfora /

It also provides a walkway ramp to Torrance Beach, where you can enjoy swimming and other beach-based recreational activities.

Miramar Park is dog-friendly and provides a “Fido Fountain” to sate the thirst of the park visitors’ pets.

Tackle the Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Torrance Beach on Paseo de la Playa provides the southern gateway to the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

Also popularly known to locals as The Strand, this paved trail stretches over 22 miles mostly along the Los Angeles County shoreline of the Pacific.

The Strand, which has been widely featured in movies and TV shows, is open year-round and popular among runners.

Tackling this trail unlocks many amazing points of interest and coastal vistas unseen when driving along the road corridors parallel to it.

Northward from Torrance Beach, for instance, you will pass through Dockweiler State Beach and Manhattan Beach, where beach volleyball matches are often part of the scenery.

Parking spaces are plentiful along Marvin Braude Bike Trail and are typically next to public beaches, including The Strand’s northern terminus Will Rogers Beach.

Bask in the Tranquility of Pine Wind Japanese Garden

The Pine Wind Japanese Garden is tucked on Civic Center Drive, with the Torrance cultural arts center, art museum, and the James R. Armstrong Theater flanking it.

National Landscape Award winner Takeo Uesugi designed this garden that flaunts the tranquil setting of iconic Japanese gardens.

The features of this garden include stone pathways, a koi pond, and stone pathways.

The garden’s authentic Japanese landscaping and architecture provide a great backdrop for individual or group photos.

Watch out for public events that the two-tiered amphitheater of this garden hosts.

Go Surfing at RAT Beach

Waves crashing on the shores of RAT Beach

Mamaratzi /

The secluded coastline immediately south of Torrance Beach on Paseo de la Playa is popularly known among local surfers as RAT Beach.

It supposedly got this acronym of a name because of its location “right after Torrance” Beach.

Sunset at RAT Beach

A. La Canfora /

RAT Beach is a secluded area with rocky terrain and the steep Palos Verdes cliffs framing it.

It is accessible north of Torrance Beach via a maintained trail.

This area is also popular among kite surfers and windsurfers, as well as spear fishers and divers.

People relaxing at RAT Beach

James Ogg /

Watch Free Summer Concerts and Movies

The Discover Torrance Visitors Bureau unwraps free summer concerts around mid-August.

These musical events are typically held at the Wilson Park gazebo on Crenshaw Boulevard.

The concerts are part of a variety of free entertainment that Torrance hosts year-round.

Free movies at the park are also held during summer in Wilson Park, as well as in McMaster Park on Artesia Boulevard and De Portola Park on Meadow Drive.

You can have a picnic at these parks while enjoying the free concerts and movie showings.

Join a History Tour of Old Torrance

Check the schedule of the annual Walking Tours of Historic Old Torrance, which the Torrance Historical Society typically hosts in late May.

These are free, docent-led walking tours covering eight blocks of downtown Torrance.

Here you will go on an easy but brisk walk for some two hours for a close-up look at the city’s historic buildings.

A tour usually starts from the Torrance Historical Museum on Post Avenue, which itself is historic.

This museum, which features permanent and rotating exhibits on local history, is housed in a circa 1936 library.

During the tour, the guide will provide tidbits about Torrance’s history.

They will also offer contemporary trivia, such as where the movie “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was filmed in the city.

Go on a Hike at the Madrona Marsh Preserve

Signage of Madrona Marsh Preserve

Jaykay109 at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a self-guided walk of Madrona Marsh Preserve on Plaza del Amo to observe its charming birdlife.

This preserve, which was developed along with a Nature Center, features an easy 1.4-kilometer loop trail.

More than 275 endemic and 50 non-native bird species have been recorded inhabiting or passing by the Madrona Marsh.

Closeup of plants at Madrona Marsh Preserve

Viktor Loki /

Entrance is free to this preserve, described as a “significant ecological area” in Los Angeles County and one of the few remaining vernal freshwater marshes.

The Nature Center directly across from the Madrona Marsh Preserve on Plaza del Amo is open Fridays and Saturdays.

Landscape of Madrona Marsh Preserve

Viktor Loki /

Relax at Delthorne Park

Delthorne Park is an excellent place to relax after touring points of interest in Torrance.

It spreads over nearly 10 acres in the southwest quadrant of Spencer Street and Madrona Avenue.

The park’s acreage is a unique setting of winding open space blending with trees, brooks, and bridges.

The facilities here include multi-purpose game courts, a picnic area, and children’s play equipment.

It also boasts a half-mile rubberized jogging track suited for runners training for footraces.

Catch Torrance’s Annual Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival

Torrance holds the Annual Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival around late April.

The Ken Miller Recreation Center near the corner of Madrona Avenue and Torrance Boulevard hosts this festival.

Admission to this festival is free as well as parking.

Nonetheless, visitors are likely to be tempted by the delicious Japanese food items on sale during the event.

This festival’s highlights include Japanese dances, folk singing, flute and drum performances, and demonstrations of martial arts like judo, kendo, and aikido.

Kids can enjoy origami, games, crafts, and storytelling in Japanese and English.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve

Gorgeous view of Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve

Andy Konieczny /

Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve is a bluff-top park with a rocky beach on Paseo de Mar in Palos Verdes Estates.

This preserve is 2.5 miles southwest of RAT Beach in Torrance and also features scenic coastal trails.

One of these, Blufftop Trail, is conveniently accessible on the corner of Paseo del Mar and Palos Verdes Drive West where there’s public parking.

Landscape of Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve

Wirestock Creators /

You can access the preserve’s beach easier via a trail along a drain pipe across where Chiswick Road meets Paseo del Mar.

This beach offers solitude and a quiet setting, as the bluffs of the preserve border it.

A stroll along this beach at low tide traverses exposed pools leading south to Palos Verdes Point, where there’s an old shipwreck.

Scenic view of Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve

Andy Konieczny /

Visit the Hopkins Wilderness Park

The Hopkins Wilderness Park is located on Camino Real in Redondo Beach, just three miles west of Torrance.

No entrance fee is charged to families or individuals for day use of the park.

However, many of the park visitors are tempted to stay longer and camp here for an affordable fee.

The park’s 11-acre area, a former lookout point of Native Americans, has four charming ecological habitats.

This endearing environment includes meadows, forests, streams, and a pond.

Besides its campsites, which are exclusively for tents, the park’s facilities include public restrooms and an amphitheater.

Watch for family-oriented events that this park hosts, such as wilderness scavenger hunts and conservation programs.

Final Thoughts

With a healthy dose of resourcefulness, you can find plenty of free things to do in Torrance, California.

The coastal location of this city provides easy access to beaches and parks open to the public.

Free things to do in Torrance likewise abound in its annual events, which you should watch out for when creating an itinerary for a visit to this city.

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