Traveling to Malibu brings a kind of starstruck giddiness unlike other places. With all its fame, history, and beauty, there is absolutely no shortage of things to do. From sprawling out on one of California’s best beaches to sipping rosé with your pinky out on a wine safari, here are the 14 best things to do in Malibu.
Leo Carrillo State Park is a must-visit beach for those who may be looking for something a little more than a traditional beach experience. The 1.5-mile stretch of sand offers tide pools, coastal caves, and coral reefs in addition to the standard activities of swimming and surfing. There is also a campground shaded by giant sycamore trees if you’re looking to stay overnight.
Surfrider is the Malibu beach. As the name suggests, it’s an excellent spot for surfers, but also for casual beach-goers just looking to soak up some sun. Located between the Malibu Pier and the Malibu Lagoon, the crowds here make for great people watching but consider heading elsewhere if you’re looking for a little peace and tranquility.
El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach is unquestionably the most visually stunning beach in the region. Once you descend down the 150-foot bluff, you’ll find yourself walking among huge rock formations that dot the shoreline. Feel free spend hours exploring the mini shallow water ecosystems or just relaxing on a little patch of paradise. Be warned though — parking here costs $8 and there are only 20 spots in the lot.
Zuma is the largest and most family-friendly beach in the region. With massive parking lots and stretches of sand as far as the eye can see, it handles crowds like a champ. Zuma beach boasts volleyball courts, public bathrooms, on-duty lifeguards, surfing spots, and places to fish. By the way, both El Matador and Zuma made it on our list of the Best Beaches in Los Angeles.
Go on a Wine Safari
Wildlife, an excursion in a 4×4 vehicle, and wine tasting — what more is there to ask? Situated up in the Santa Monica Mountains just a few miles inland from the beaches in Malibu are a few ranches where you can join a Wine Safari. Hop on a trek that takes you through beautiful vineyards where you stop along the way to feed animals (include giraffes, zebras, and alpacas) and taste local wines.
Visit the Adamson House
California has a long history with Spanish colonialism, and Malibu’s Adamson House is an excellent representation of it. The house that’s perched above the Pacific Ocean was built back in 1929 and is decked out with fresco ceilings, ironwork railings, colorful tiles, and quaint little garden patios. Booking a tour here will be great for history buffs, architecture junkies, and avid Instagrammers alike.
Chill at the Getty Villa
In the same kind of vain as the Adamson House, the Getty Villa is an old-world architectural gem located in a stunning Malibu location. The hillside museum is a replica of a 1st-century Roman villa that stretches for an impressive 64 acres. On the property, you’ll find all kinds of Greek and Roman antiques including statues, blown glass, and mosaics. And it’s not just a place to snap photos and feel like royalty — check out their calendar for lectures, performances, films, and tons of family events.
Paramount Ranch is a former film studio that was used to film all kinds of western flicks throughout the 20th century. It’s a full-blown wooden town similar to something you’d find in Westworld. Today it’s no longer used for movie purposes and it’s actually been reclaimed and preserved by the National Park Service. Visit to tour the town or take a horseback ride in the surrounding hills with Malibu Riders.
Malibu Country Mart
No visit to the Los Angeles area is complete without a little window shopping around chic boutiques. The Malibu Country Mart is one part farmer’s market, where you can find everything from take-out sandwiches to upscale dining, and one part shopping haven for the rich and famous. Come here to brush shoulders with celebrities and browse some $100 t-shirts. For another similar option check out the adjacent Malibu Lumber Yard with more shopping and dining options.
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If you have the budget to splurge in Malibu, make your way over to Nobu. It’s fusion food that blends cuisines from Japan and Peru and has excellent dishes like black cod with miso and yellowtail sashimi. Don’t take our word for it, take Kate Winslet’s: “Heaven on earth and sex on a plate.” While we’re on these themes, read up on the 5 Most Romantic Getaways in California.
Neptune’s Net is more of the working person’s spot for delicious seafood if you aren’t exactly able to dine with the stars. Located right on the PCH and in operation since the 1950s, here you’ll find everyone from surfers, bikers, families, and tourists. Order the clam chowder and close your eyes and imagine you’re in New England.
Duke’s is the closest you will be able to get to Hawaii in Southern California. The restaurant is dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku, the famous surfer who popularized surfing in the early 20th century. Visit here for the thatched roof vibe, ocean views, happy hours, and live music.
Escondido Falls is most famous for the 150-foot waterfall that is the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. However, due to the drought, it’s likely that the waterfall won’t be in full effect during the drier months. Consider visiting in winter or in early spring.
The best accommodations for the lowest price
Solstice Canyon is another spot in the Malibu Mountains that boasts impressive waterfalls if you time it right. There’s a decent network of trails, but the most popular is a two-mile hike and a six-mile hike, both of which lead you through the best sites in the park. The other great part about Solstice Canyon is the old Keller House, a shell of a stone house that dates back to 1865. Just be aware that much of this region is now fairly charred, and here you can learn more about how the California Wildfires Were the Most Destructive in History.