Things to do in Malibu California

October 16, 2018
October 16, 2018 Hilary

Things to do in Malibu California

Surfrider Beach

Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of LA? Look no further than, Malibu, LA’s closest neighbor to the north. Stretching 21 scenic miles along the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu is the stuff California dreams are made of.

Malibu Fishing Pier Malibu California #californiadreaming

Malibu Fishing Pier

Malibu’s Mediterranean climate means warm dry summers and moderate winters.  You’ll find gorgeous beaches, world famous surf spots, hiking and plenty of dining, shopping, and museums to keep you occupied no matter the time of year. What’s not to love?

Things to do in Malibu California #malibucountrymart

Malibu Country Mart

Malibu was settled by the Chumash Native Americans who lived along the southern coast of California for over 10,000 years. The name Malibu is derived from their word Humaliwo, which translates to “the surf sounds lovely.” I couldn’t agree more!

The Malibu Fishing Pier

Built in 1905 to support shipping operations from a nearby ranch the Malibu Fishing Pier opened to the public for charter and pier fishing in 1934.

Things to do in Malibu #malibu #thingstodoinmalibu

Malibu Sport Fishing Pier

The current twin buildings at the end of the Pier were built after WWII and were originally intended as a daylight lookout for the US Coastguard. Considered historically important the State of California purchased the Pier in 1980. After heavy storm damage in the early 90s the pier was closed to the public until it was restored and reopened in 2008.

Things to do in Malibu California #travelwithkids #thingstodoinmalibu #malibu

Malibu Fishing Pier

Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or a first timer the pier is a great place to enjoy a day of fishing. We’ve been a few different times and have had great luck even enjoying an evening meal with our catch of the day.

The Malibu Sport Fishing Pier is located at 23000 Pacific Coast Highway and is open daily from 6:30am to sunset. Some businesses may stay open later. Fishing Ppermits are not required and fishing rods, bait and tackle are available for rental at The Ranch at the Pier. 

Surfrider Beach & The Malibu Lagoon

Some of LA County’s most popular surf spots are located in Malibu including Surfrider Beach, also known as the Malibu Lagoon, which was made the first World Surfing Reserve in 2010. Surfrider has been a popular SoCal surfing spot since the 1960s and still is today. It’s excellent waves are considered a gold standard of surfing.

Surfrider Beach Malibu California #surfriderbeach

Surfrider Beach

Surfers honor their fallen with a memorial paddle out at Surfrider Beach. This beautiful ceremony is thought to have started with the famous Hawaiian surfer, Duke Kahanamoku. The ceremony includes paddling out and forming a circle, joining hands, throwing flowers into the air, and splashing the water, before heading out to surf.

Malibu Fishing Pier Malibu California #surfriderbeach

View of the pier from Surfrider Beach

Rain or shine Surfrider Beach is a lovely place to spend an afternoon and one of our family’s favorite local escapes.

Malibu Fishing Pier Malibu California #malibu

Malibu Fishing Pier

Things to do in Malibu California

Malibu Lagoon

Surfrider beach is located at 23050 & 23200 Pacific Coast Highway.

Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach, located 10 miles up the PCH from Surfrider, is one of LA’s most popular beaches. The drive to Zuma is spectacular in itself, and when you get there you’ll find almost two miles of soft clean sand, a wide variety of beach activities, restaurants, public restrooms and plentiful parking. Need I say more?

Things to do in Malibu #zumabeach

Lifeguard huts waiting for summer

Zuma Beach is located at 30000 Pacific Coast Highway.

Leo Carrillo State Park

An entire glorious day could be spent at Leo Carrillo State Park where activities at the park are many and include, exploring the tide pools, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing, and beach combing. There are also caves and reefs for exploring, hiking trails, picnic tables and camping.

Leo Carrillo is located at 35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu and is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. The entrance to the park is on the East side of the Pacific Coast Highway. There are bathrooms and pay showers on site. Camping is available via the Park’s online reservation system.

Parking Fees: All day – $12.00 per car, per day, 3 hours – $9.00 per car, 2 hours – $6.00 per car, 1 hour – $3.00 per car.

You might also be interested in: Tide Pools & More at Leo Carrillo State Park

Solstice Canyon

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains the hiking options in Solstice Canyon range from easy to difficult, making this a great destination for families and pets. There’s a waterfall, gorgeous views, and even an architectural landmark, all waiting to be discovered.

Things to do in Malibu California #solticecanyon

Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon is located at 3455 Solstice Canyon Road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Directions from Pacific Coast Highway turn inland on Corral Canyon Rd. Drive 0.25 mile to the park entrance on the left.

The Getty Villa

Located on the border of Pacific Palisades and Malibu the Getty Villa is dedicated to the antiquities, and features 7000 years of ancient art. Even if antiquities aren’t your thing, The Villa itself is a site to see.

Things to do in Malibu California #gettyvilla

Getty Villa

Built in the early 1970s it was modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country home that was located in Herculaneum, Italy, which along with Pompeii, was buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Tours of the art, architecture and gardens are complimentary.

The food in the cafe was excellent. Consider eating there while you enjoy beautiful views of the Villa and gardens from above.

The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway. Entry to the Getty Villa is free, but reservations, which can be made online, are required. There is a $15 fee for parking.

You might also be interested in: The J. Paul Getty Museums 

Dukes Malibu

Named for Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, Duke’s restaurant is a tribute not only to Duke, but to Malibu and surfing culture. Though it’s popular with tourists the food at Duke’s is far from touristy. Dining mere inches from crashing waves is a magical experience and one I never grow tired of. The Sunday brunch is legendary and reservations are highly recommended.

Dukes View Malibu California -

Dukes Malibu is located at 21150 Pacific Coast Highway. 

Malibu Farm Cafe

Stay cozy inside on a stormy day or eat out when the sun is shinning, either way the Malibu Farm Cafe is the perfect little spot. Our favorites are the Swedish pancakes with seasonal berries and the fried egg sandwich, but everything is delicious.

Malibu Farm Cafe Food Malibu California #malibufarm

Malibu Farm Cafe Food Malibu California

The Malibu Farm Cafe is located at 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy at the end of the Malibu Sport Fishing Pier.

Neptune’s Net

I love the beach, but I don’t love eating in the sand, which makes Neptune’s Net, located just a few miles north of Leo Carrillo State Park, a great place to grab a bite to eat prior to hitting the beach.

Neptune's Net Malibu California

Neptunes Net Malibu California

Since 1956 it’s been a favorite of motorcyclists, surfers, locals and anyone else looking for a delicious basket of golden fish and chips. Expect a crowd, especially on weekends.

Neptune's Net Seafood Restaurant Pacific Coast Highway California

Neptunes Net Fried Shrimp

Neptune’s Net is located at 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. 

Cholada Thai

We recently discovered Cholada Thai and are now wondering what took us so long. Stopping at Wylie’s bait and tackle shop on our way to the Malibu Fishing Pier we were drawn in by the delicious smells coming from within. Thankfully we arrived early because before too long every table was filled. If you’re looking for something different consider Cholada Thai with friendly service and delicious food.

Cholada Thai Beach Malibu California #choladathai

Cholada Thai Golden Pouch

Cholada Thai is located at 18763 Pacific Coast Highway.

Shopping on the Malibu Pier

Fishing, dining and swimming aren’t the only activities available on and near the Malibu Pier. We love poking around the shops too! Ranch at the Pier is located just next to the Malibu Farm Cafe and offers a wide selection of items from clothing and beauty to guitars, hats, skateboards and more.

Ranch at the Pier Shop Malibu California

Ranch at the Pier Shop Malibu California

The mini boutique on the land end of the pier is aesthetically pleasing with a pink and red theme.

Ranch at the Pier Shop Malibu California

Ranch at the Pier

Mini shops selling lotions, potions, and jewelry are located along the pier. This one had a fun little swing!

Malibu Fishing Pier Malibu California

Malibu Fishing Pier

Aviator Nation

Aviator Nation’s 70s inspired clothing line seems to be the unofficial official loungewear of SoCal residents. I admit to jumping on the bandwagon as their marshmallowy soft clothing is both stylish and comfy. Their shops have a fun welcoming beachy vibe.


Malibu Country Mart

The Malibu Country Mart features high end shopping, a wonderful playground, delicious dining options, and it’s just a stones throw from the beach.

Shopping in Malibu California

The Malibu Country Mart is located at 3835 Cross Creek Rd.

Trancas Country Market

The Trancas Country Market is located just north of Zuma Beach at the far end of Malibu.  You’ll find unique shops, restaurants and a grocery store as well as some fun interactive art. The Vintage Grocers is a great place to pick up supplies if you’re planning on a beach picnic.

Trancas Country Market Malibu California

Artist: bumblebbeelovesyou Trancas Country Market

The Trancas Country Market is located at 30745 Pacific Coast Highway.

This handy map will help you find our Malibu Favorites. Have you been to Malibu? What are your favorite places? Let me know in the comments!

Pin for later:

Things to do in Malibu California #malibu #familytravel #california

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I love to travel & explore the world both near and far! I do my best to make the most out of life each and everyday! I have two boys and they are, at the ages of 13 and 18, world travelers and all around go along guys. There isnt anywhere I cant take them. It is my hope this blog will be a way to share the fun things Ive learned while on our many adventures together!

Comments (39)

  1. Stephen Aprill

    An upbeat and comprehensive overview of one of the most famous spots on the planet. Strangely, perhaps because Malibu stretches more than twenty miles, tourism seems diluted which seems a positive for visitors. If you live in or near Malibu you are, even if only by extension, cool. We recently traveled abroad and when we told people we were from Southern California, the dreamy look in their eyes said Malibu and places like it.

  2. Very interesting! I’ve never been to southern CAbut very much want to go. I wish my husband was on board with the idea but I just may go without him. Lol he keeps telling me about traffic…

    • Hilary

      Oh! You must come it’s wonderful here! Yes, we have traffic, but all big cities do. Don’t they? It’s just a question of working around it. I hope you make it here someday!

  3. I’ve never seen to Malibu and it wasn’t on my radar as a place I ‘must not miss’ – but now I think I really don’t know the area at all! I think I had the wrong impressions of a highly (overly) developed and crammed shoreline and party city beyond. Thank you for showing me that there is a whole lot more to be excited about there! xx Maria

    • Hilary

      Malibu is actually a little bit removed from other cities nearby because access is via narrow winding canyons and the pch. It’s actually quite a small city with only 12,500 residents, but I think it is the long skinny geography, which makes it seem crowded.

  4. Malibu is such a beautiful area and I’m sad to say I haven’t had the chance to see very much of it! Would definitely like to check it out again as it looks way more fun than I remembered! #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Yes! Lots to see and do! You’ll have to go when you’re next in the area!

  5. I always thought of Malibu as a ritzy area but it looks like it has tons of down to earth things to do. I was just in Dukes in Kauai and the food was excellent The chain seems to have a good reputation.

    • Hilary

      It is definitely ritzy, but still so much us regular folks can take advantage of! 😘

  6. We did California on our honeymoon (after Vegas and before San Fran!) but we didn’t make it to Malibu. But I would love to have gone to Malibu pier.

  7. Looks like a lot of fun in Malibu. We ate at Neptune’s too when we passed through, but maybe should spend more time if we are in the area again.

    • Hilary

      Yes! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hope you get another chance to explore this lovely area!

  8. Clare Thomson

    Wow, looks like there’s so much to do in Malibu! I love that you always include such great places to eat in your posts. I’d be tempted by so much here. I really like the origins of its name too – listening to the sound of the surf is one of my favourite sounds on earth. #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Finding good food while out and about can be challenging, so a few ideas are always helpful. This is just the beginning of my things to do in Malibu list. I still have so many more places to explore in the area.

  9. Malibu actually looks very peaceful… I think we went to a restaurant there, by the sea, where you could throw peanut shells on the floor… Ages ago 😀 #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Malibu is very peaceful. It feels a world away, which is why we like to go there to escape every now and again. I don’t recall that restaurant, but I wouldn’t doubt its still there somewhere.

    • Hilary

      It’s very quintessential California. I personally love the beautiful color of the water in Malibu.

  10. Nice to know there’s more than just celebrity spotting in Malibu. All the beaches and the Leo Carrillo park look fantastic. Unfortunately I can’t surf but I hear it’s an amazing spot for it.

    • Hilary

      It’s not to late to learn surfing… in the meantime there is plenty to keep one busy… even celebrity sighting if that’s your thing. Celebrities in Malibu are quite frequent as they are in this entire LA area, but I admit to being somewhat oblivious where that’s concerned. I do occasionally see “someone of interest” here and there, but it’s not, in my opinion, anywhere near the top of the many reasons to visit this area.

  11. Oh, I do like a pier, it’s so great that it was restored, there are far too many left to deteriorate. Although I don’t think I would be too good at the fishing. #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      It’s a lovely spot! I’m so happy it’s been restored! Fishing on the pier isn’t too tough, although most of time we just spectate. Sometimes grandpa joins us and he’s in charge of the fishing.

  12. afamilydayout

    I visited Malibu briefly years ago (start of the 90s) but barely remember it – and your post makes me realise how much I missed! #farawayfiles

  13. I would love to visit Malibu! I just got back from my first real trip to CA (the only other being a short work trip to LA several years ago). We visited San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and Big Sur. It was all so beautiful and I’d love to head back soon to see more, Malibu included! #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Sounds like a wonderful trip! You hit a lot of beautiful spots. I lived in the Bay Area for 8 years, but can you believe it I never made it to Lake Tahoe?

  14. I miss the years I was in LA very much. However I am also ready to move away from the West Coast. 🙂 The world is so big. (please allow me to be sentimental…)

    Thanks for sharing these!

    • Hilary

      I understand what you’re saying there is so much out there, but if you have to have a home base the West Coast isn’t a bad one!

  15. Discover and Explore

    Sensational piece on Malibu! Here is my experience there…

    I can’t talk about my time at USC without mentioning Malibu which has a mystique that I cannot totally put into words. My first time there was with my Chi Phi Big Bro, Al Caberlof. Al’s Porsche had the top down as we breezed along the Five-lane wide 405 Freeway on a golden Southern California afternoon. We soon found ourselves hugging the winding curves of Pacific Coast Highway as we made our way to the Promised Land of Malibu. On our left lay vast sandy beaches dotted with surfers, and beach bunnies. On our right the steep hills of Malibu beckoned you to pay attention. I remember witnessing large houses that cantilevered off of these steep brown mounds of dirt. And what sticks in my memory most is the golden honey light that bathed all who were fortunate to be here.
    On another enchanted evening, a few months later, I double dated with my roommate, Bob and two sorority girls. We plopped our firm bodies down on the sand and staked our claim, as the sunset arrived to escort us into early evening. We all sat on the sand and talked. And talked. And then kissed. And talked some more. All the while the soft roar of the Pacific Ocean was in the background.
    Nearby, a bunch of teenage groups were scattered out amidst the fine white sand, and several of them lit small ‘camp’ fires that dotted the landscape. It was almost scripted—I thought the Beach Boys would pop out behind a lifeguard tower and start playing “Surfin’ U.S.A.”

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