Having lived for over eight years in the blissful beach town of Malibu, California, I thought it was high time I give away a local’s list of the best places to visit in this ‘beach community’ (thanks to the Big Lobowski). Whether you’re visiting for a day, a week, or a year, here are a few not-to-be-missed spots:
Surfrider Beach and Malibu Lagoon
The ultimate long-boarding spot, locals flock here for the seemingly-endless surf break, the sun, and the sand. For birders, Malibu Lagoon’s trails that lead to the beach regularly play host to sea birds (such as Whimbrels and Willets) and marsh hiders (like the tough to spot Sora).
Malibu Pier & Malibu Country Mart
Malibu Pier is a bit touristy but a fun spot to stroll and maybe even drop a fishing line to see what you can bring home. Malibu Country Mart is both a shopping center & town center and is located at the corner of Cross Creek and Pacific Coast Highway, stop here for everything from Missoni knits and Ralph Lauren polo shirts to the delightful sandwiches at Country Kitchen and sushi of Nobu. For lunch, sit Alfresco at Tra di Noi Restaurant (I recommend the Duchessa Salad). On Sundays, check out the Malibu Farmer’s Market outside the city hall (behind the country mart) where local farmers sell in-season fruits and vegetables.
Full of the requisite beach kitsch and tourist hype, Paradise Cove Restaurant is nevertheless an enjoyable way to spend a sunny afternoon, Mai-tai in hand and toes in the sand (for a more ‘local’ experience, be sure to walk north up the beach past the unbelievable coastal mansions including Olivia Newton-John’s ex-home)
For local seafood, the Reel Inn Restaurant is the place to go.
Just across from Topanga Beach serves up fresh fish at a reasonable price with unique beach ambiance to match.
Malibu Creek State Park
Drive up the scenic Malibu Canyon Road to this spectacular state park where trails will lead you to a lake, cliffs, mountains, and even a M.A.S.H. film site (I once spotted a bobcat here, so you’re definitely in the wild!).
Malibu Wines tasting room
Located up the famous Mulholland Highway, this ‘tasting room’ is a misnomer—Malibu Wines is actually a local winery with an outdoor tasting area perfect for ‘mature’ picnics (21+ only allowed). Pick up cheese and crackers at Malibu Country Kitchen then head up here for a relaxing afternoon in the mountains.
Malibu Road Beach
Visit on a Sunday morning and you’ll likely find me here, strolling along the ocean. Best visited in winter months (when the tide is less severe and there’s more beach to stroll), you can enter this long beach at any of the coastal accesses along Malibu Road. Expect to be accompanied by dolphins, seals, sea birds, and the occasional celebrity.
Malibu is, despite contrary belief, a thin strip of a town along ’27 miles of scenic beauty’ — therefore, expect to either bicycle your quads into oblivion or rent an automobile to give your body a rest and enjoy all this seaside gem has to offer (you may even forget that bustling Los Angeles is a mere twenty minute drive away).