“I was a tomboy, a serious tomboy,” writes Dara Torres in her 2009 memoir Age is Just a Number. “Even as a little kid at El Rodeo Elementary School in Beverly Hills, fancy Los Angeles culture didn’t suit me all that well … my main concerns were sports and winning. I wanted to get picked first for the team, any team, and I usually was.”
The Hollywood sign has been a West Coast tourist attraction since it was constructed in1923.
We all know what happened next. Torres went on to become a 12-time Olympic medalist—the first and only American swimmer to compete in five Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008). She medaled at all five Olympiads, most recently in Beijing at age 41.
Despite having "no interest in dresses, dolls, hopscotch, or other stereotypically girly things," Torres has fond memories of growing up in Beverly Hills during the 1970s and ’80s. After all, that's where she learned to swim, in the pool at her mother's house, and later at the Beverly Hills Y and Tandem Swim Club of Culver City.
Although Torres says there’s “not much peeps don’t know about Cali,” she took the time to share a few of her favorite places with Outside.
Describe Beverly Hills.
90210! Need I say more? When I grew up there, it was a beautiful area and very peaceful. The foliage was spectacular. California was alive—the Olympics, the Dodgers, the Lakers. I feel very fortunate. I also made many great friendships that have lasted my entire life.
Best time of year to visit?
I love the fall because it's cool during the night and warm during the day
Favorite place to get outside?
I enjoyed Big Bear and Mammoth; completely different scenery than being in town.
Back then a favorite was Trader Vic's—Polynesian Food and fun people watching.
The Hollywood sign
Best place to stay?
I love the Fairmont in Santa Monica, which is near the Third Street shops and across the street from the beach.
Need to Know:
Beverly Hills is about 12 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport, 300 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, and 100 miles west of Big Bear Lake.