My love affair with Malibu started once I first visited in my early twenties—my brother had simply moved to LA, and I couldn’t imagine the attractive seashores and unimaginable mountain climbing trails that had been only a stone’s throw from the town. In the years since, I’ve gotten to spend time there producing tales for the positioning, from our seashore picnic with Gjelina proprietor Shelley Armistead, to the yard feast hosted by chef Helena Henderson.
Seeing Malibu by the eyes of those locals launched me to the unimaginable creativity of its neighborhood, not to point out the seashores the place they surf, and the farm stands the place they purchase their produce (swoon.) Now that I’m a little bit of a neighborhood myself, I’ve been getting numerous questions from readers and mates about my favourite issues to do in Malibu, so I knew it was time to share my insider recommendations on the place to eat, keep, hike, store, and surf whenever you plan your subsequent go to.
What to learn about Malibu
Before we dive into my listing of issues to do in Malibu, let’s cowl just a few FAQ’s.
Why is Malibu well-known?
Malibu is definitely a a lot smaller city than most individuals notice—the official metropolis inhabitants is just 12,000 residents! However, it’s recognized by virtually everybody for its iconic 21-mile stretch of seashores alongside the Pacific Coast Highway, and sure, its well-known residents.
In the sixties and seventies, Malibu reworked from sleepy surf city to hip Hollywood haven thanks to the arrival of Gidget and residents like Barbara Streisand, Joan Didion, and numerous musicians. Over the subsequent few a long time, thanks to popular culture moments like Baywatch (shot at Zuma Beach) and Malibu Barbie, Malibu developed a status as a metropolis drenched in equal components sunshine and glamour.
Today, Malibu is dwelling to numerous media moguls and tech giants, however the ‘Bu I really like is much from glitzy—drive previous the Pier and Pepperdine, and your view from the PCH turns into one in all cliffs and canyons, tough terrain and beautiful sunsets. Its rustic pure magnificence is the true draw for me, however it does take somewhat insider data to peel again the layers and absolutely uncover its non secular aspect. When you are taking time to settle into its rhythms, Malibu invitations you to join with the pure world and align your tempo to the rising and falling of the tides. As Joan Didion wrote in The White Album:
“Malibu tends to astonish and disappoint those who have never seen it, and yet its very name remains, in the imagination of people all over the world, a kind of shorthand for the easy life.”
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Where exactly is Malibu?
Malibu is its own city in Los Angeles County, located in the Santa Monica mountains about 30 miles west of downtown LA. It also happens to be just about 60 miles from Santa Barbara and 55 miles from Ojai, making Malibu a fantastic home base to explore other great parts of Southern California.
Where to Stay: The Best Malibu Hotels
There are quite a few hotels in Malibu, but in my opinion, there are really only two that you need to know:
Surfrider Hotel. This beautiful, highly-Instagrammable boutique hotel is my splurgier pick for a weekend in Malibu. From its whitewashed interiors to its lush, tropical plant-filled common areas to the incredible rooftop restaurant—Surfrider Hotel is pretty much perfect. Prepare to snap endless photos for your own at-home interior design inspo (or maybe that’s just me), then grab a smoothie and a board, and hit the waves at Surfrider Beach.
Hotel June. This brand new hotel is a few miles north on the Pacific Coast Highway, and I absolutely love it, both for its simple, chic design and affordable luxury. Rooms are comfy, the pool is gorgeous, and you feel like you’re staying at your hip Malibu friend’s casita. Hotel June also earns a 10 out of 10 for location: it sits at the base of Point Dume next to gorgeous Westward Beach.
The Most Delicious Things To Do In Malibu:
As mentioned above, Malibu is a surprisingly small town. So while there are a handful of great restaurants, it’s helpful to go in with a little know-how so you don’t end up eating at overpriced tourist traps with mediocre food. These are, in my opinion, the absolute best restaurants in Malibu. Here’s what I order and when I recommend going.
Have Lunch on the Pier at Malibu Farm
You may not realize it, but you’ve likely spotted Malibu Farm in the b-roll of any reality show that takes place in Los Angeles. It’s charming shiplap exterior and spot at the end of Malibu Pier have made it an institution. The ocean views are epic, and the food lives up to the hype. I love to order the watermelon greek salad for lunch, with either a mint lemonade or spicy margarita, depending on my mood.
Insider tip: If the restaurant at the top of the Pier is too crowded, mosey down to the end of the Pier where you can grab an outdoor table and order from the counter-service cafe.
Eat the Fresh Catch of the Day at Malibu Seafood
Malibu Seafood is the perfect lunch or early dinner spot when you’re coming off the beach. Lines tend to get long on weekends, so I try to go at non-peak hours on weekdays. It’s BYOB, so make sure to pack your cooler with a bottle of chilled rosé, and park it at one of the picnic tables on the patio. Adam swears by the fish and chips, I usually order the fresh catch of the day, simply grilled with lemon and a baked potato.
Insider tip: Malibu Seafood also has an incredible market where you can buy fresh fish and shellfish to cook at home. Skip the line and head straight to the market window to order.
Score a Table at Nobu Malibu—The Views Alone are Worth It
If, when you hear the word “Malibu,” you think of celebrities, flashy cars, and papparazzi, you’re probably thinking of Nobu Malibu. This is the one place on the town the place I’d really put on heels, and reservations are powerful to come by. And sure, you actually are probably to see a star. That mentioned, this is without doubt one of the most visually beautiful eating places you’ll ever lay eyes on. Sitting proper on the water’s edge, it’s all trendy Japanese structure, heat wooden, and firelight. And the sushi is world class.
Insider tip: When you name the reservation line, you might be probably to hear the phrases, “I’m sorry, but we’re fully committed.” However, in case you go earlier than 6pm on a weeknight, you may probably rating a desk, or a minimum of a pair seats on the bar.
Eat a Lobster Roll at Broad Street Oyster
Tucked away at Malibu Country Mart, Broad Street Oyster Company is a shocking standout for nice meals in Malibu. It’s funky, it’s enjoyable, it’s all in regards to the oysters and lobster rolls. Make a beeline there to cap-off a day on the seashore, or pull off the PCH in case you’re road-tripping from LA to Santa Barbara.
Insider tip: Especially on sunny days, Broad Street Oyster Co will get insanely crowded. But fortunately, in case you plan forward, you may pre-book your order and choose it up on the window at your allotted time.
Order Pad Thai To-Go at Cholada Thai Cuisine
My favourite Thai meals on the planet occurs to be situated in an unassuming seashore shack proper on the freeway as you enter Malibu metropolis limits. It’s change into a convention that once I head into city, I name in a to-go order at Cholada and swing by to pick it up on my way to the house. Prices are good, portions are massive, and it’s exactly the satisfying meal you crave after traveling (or surfing.)
Devour the Best Breakfast Burrito in Town at Lily’s
When you go to Lily’s Malibu, you’re most likely going to say, “Um, really Camille?!” It’s an unassuming dive in a strip mall at Point Dume. However, the breakfast burritos are legendary for a purpose, and doing all of your finest to devour an entire one after a Saturday morning spent browsing or swimming is virtually a Malibu ceremony of passage. They’re actually good, and whenever you’re drained and sun-baked, nothing tastes higher.
Insider tip: I often put in an internet order a minimum of 45 minutes earlier than I’m prepared to pickup—it’s a well-liked spot.
Eat a Nourish Bowl at Surfrider Hotel
Not only is Surfrider Hotel one of the best places to stay in Malibu—it also happens to have one of Malibu’s best restaurants. The rooftop patio is a gorgeous, airy space with teak wood furniture and a big open air bar, and the menu is full of fresh, seasonal salads, tacos, and ceviches. Bonus points that it overlooks Surfrider Beach, where there’s always a great surf show to watch as you dine.
Insider tip: The only issue with Surfrider is that you have to be a hotel guest in order to access the restaurant, however it’s such a vibe, it might just be worth booking a room for the night to soak up the full experience.
The Best Beaches in Malibu
Malibu’s 21-mile stretch of stunning beaches is what brings the Los Angelenos here in droves. Thankfully, many of them (like Zuma) are large enough to make room for everyone, so don’t let the crowds deter you. The pristine beauty of this part of the Pacific never fails to leave me speechless, and thankfully, Malibu’s got a beach to satisfy every mood.
Swim and Surf at Zuma Beach
We’re lucky enough to call Zuma Beach our neighborhood beach, as it happens to be one of my favorite places in the world to spend a day lounging in the sand, playing in the surf, and attempting to beat Phoebe at sand volleyball (she smears me.) And it’s the best beach in Malibu for a long beach walk.
Insider tip: If you go south, you’ll connect to stunning Westward beach, home of the best sunsets. Walk north, and you’ll hit locals favorite Broad Beach.
Pack a Picnic and head to Leo Carillo Beach
My brother lived in Santa Monica for several years, and loved to surf and hang out at Leo Carillo beach. So, when we were getting the lay of the land in Malibu, we packed a picnic and headed up the PCH to spend an overcast Saturday at Leo Carillo State Beach, and it did not disappoint. You can park in the paid lot across the street and access the beach via the underground tunnel. Then grab a perch and prepare to be wow’d by the incredible beauty of this rocky beach that looks completely different than others in the area. Kids will love climbing up the rock formations, and there’s a “secret” beach right on the other side.
Insider tip: The photos I take here are always my favorite of any other beach—even on overcast days, there’s something about the light at Leo Carillo that’s just magical.
Watch the Sunrise at El Matador Beach
I know, I already said that Zuma and Leo Carillo are my favorite beaches in Malibu, but I couldn’t leave off El Matador! The rocky bluffs make it so stunning, this is the favorite beach for photographers shooting fashion spreads or engagement photos alike. The best time to visit El Matador beach is early in the morning, when the sunrise casts a magical glow over everything (and before the small parking lot fills up!) This isn’t a great beach for surfing, so come prepared to picnic, lounge, or go for a stroll.
Insider tip: Wear sneakers, since you have to hike a ways down the bluff from the parking lot up top.
Pickup Supplies for a Beach Day at Vintage Grocers
Vintage Grocers is the most dangerous grocery store for me—when I set foot in its produce section lined with plump, juice fruits and veggies from nearby farms, I lose all self-control. Not to mention, there are delicious smoothies, local cheeses, and a delicious selection of treats made by their in-house bakers. For a beach picnic, order a panini to-go with a bag of fresh cherries and a hunk of cheese. You’re set!
Insider tip: Gjusta, the legendary bakery in Venice Beach, delivers fresh sourdough bread to Vintage Grocers daily. It’s my weakness!
Where to Shop in Malibu
Malibu’s not exactly a shopping mecca, but there are some real gems in the mix if you know where to look. And yes, heirloom tomato shopping definitely counts.
Hit the Farm Stand at Thorne Family Farm
Every Saturday, Thorne Family Farm transforms from a real working farm into a neighborhood party. Live bluegrass musicians, local vendors selling wares, and of course, the most beautiful flowers and fresh seasonal produce, most of it grown right at the farm. One of our favorite parts of our weekly farm excursion is grabbing pastries and cookies from Varsity Bakers, an LA bakery that pulls up their truck to the farm each Saturday, loaded with freshly baked goods. We take our breakfast and find a picnic table to listen to music and catch-up with neighbors.
Insider tip: Bring a cloth bag and cash for purchasing your produce—and be sure to check the website in advance since the farm stand closes for a couple months each winter.
Discover some treasures for your home at Abierto
Abierto is my favorite shop in Malibu—it’s an unassuming facade in a strip mall in Point Dume (albeit one where you might spot Chris Martin waiting in line for his coffee), but once you enter its doors you’re bound to discover your new favorite candle / cookbook / fragrance / (insert your favorite thing here.) Owner and shopkeeper, Amanda, displays her incredible taste through a curated selection of small batch wellness items, artisan-made ceramics, the best cookbook assortment I’ve ever laid eyes on, and so much more. If you need a gift for anyone in your life, this is your spot.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the incredible assortment of stationery and greeting cards. I always stock up on several to take back in my suitcase to Austin.
Get Your Shopping Fix at Malibu Country Mart
Yes, it can get a bit touristy, but Malibu Country Mart is a really well-curated outside mall that is available in extraordinarily helpful whenever you want to really purchase some new garments or cosmetics whilst you’re in Malibu. From Faherty to Sunroom to Vuori, the assortment is sweet, and you may top off on necessities at Sephora. It’s a enjoyable means to wile away a day whenever you want a break from the seashore.
Insider tip: There are tons of choices, however IMHO these are the most effective eating places at Malibu Country Mart: Broad Street Oyster (see reco above!), John’s Garden for a wholesome lunch, and Alfred Coffee on your beverage break.
My Favorite Active Things to Do in Malibu
Something about being in Malibu simply begs you to get exterior and transfer—from mountain climbing to browsing to mountain biking to yoga, it’s virtually unimaginable not to be lively whenever you’re right here (particularly because it’s often an ideal 72 levels. Here are a few of my favourite methods to combine up my exercise once I’m in Malibu.)
Book a Surf Instructor at Drill Surf & Skate
Drill is also my favorite surf shop, and they have a roster of great surf coaches who will take you out on either Zuma or Broad Beach, depending on the day’s conditions. Call or walk-in, and the owner, Craig will hook you up with the best instructor for your level.
Insider tip: Next door to Drill is Vintage Grocers, my aforementioned favorite grocery store ever. Pop in for an after-surf breakfast from their hot bar, or grab an açai bowl from the smoothie counter. Now you’re a real Malibuer.
Hike the Cliffs at Point Dume and Whale Watch
I’ll never forget the day that we closed on Zuma Beach House, we went for a walk at Point Dume State Beach and I was near-speechless when realizing that this stunning location was in our new neighborhood. It’s truly one of the most beautiful hikes in Malibu, and (quite possibly) the world. It’s a 30-minute trail that’s great for beginners, and you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of flowers, tribes of sea lions, and ocean views as far as the eye can see. Park at the tiny lot at the trailhead, or if it’s full (as it usually is), drive down and park in the Westward Beach lot at the base of the cliffs, then hike up the staircase.
Insider tip: Every season at Point Dume State Beach has it’s own beauty: In March, the cliffs are covered in vibrant yellow flowers. December through April is the season for grey whale watching at Point Dume.
See the Waterfalls at Solstice Canyon
Solstice Canyon is a beloved mountain climbing path within the Santa Monica Mountains for a purpose. This lovely path winds by a shaded forest that boasts such treasures as a wonderful waterfall and an outdated burned-down mansion you may discover. Located simply off the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll comply with a winding highway to a parking zone with picnic areas and loos. From there, you may take the Solstice Canyon Trail for a straightforward, kid-friendly hike, or climb the staircase for the tougher and secluded Rising Sun Trail.
Insider tip: Since it’s somewhat additional south, this path will get full of LA hikers. Go early to seize a parking spot and beat the crowds.
Did I miss any of your favourite issues to do in Malibu? Drop a remark and let me know.