Days Out in LA: Malibu

The world-famous, beach town of Malibu is an ideal place for a day out in LA, offering sun, surf, sand, shopping, and so much more.

Malibu is famous worldwide as a celebrity enclave, but it has so much more to offer. Located on California’s stunning Pacific coast, about 20 miles north of Los Angeles, it feels like its a million miles away from the city’s sprawl. The only reminder that you are still in the general vicinity of LA is the often unavoidable traffic that can sometimes clog the highway to Malibu. But this is, after all, Los Angeles, right?

What Makes Malibu Unique

As far as beach towns go, Malibu – which is, in fact, a city – has a unique vibe, laid-back but quite sophisticated. Apart from the many celebs that make their homes in the area, you will find hard-core surfer dudes mingling with the European owners of high-end boutiques, and hippies and boho types who have lived here forever mingling with the thousands of college students attending Pepperdine University. Needless to say, Malibu is an eclectic place with plenty of character, and it makes for a fun day out experience.

“Downtown” Malibu

Despite its somewhat limited size, there is plenty to do and see in Malibu. The experience begins with the drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway, known locally as PCH. Upon entering the Malibu city limits you will see a sign proclaiming that you now have “27 miles of scenic beauty” before you. Perched between the Pacific coast and the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu does have some truly incredible scenery. The drive into Malibu is always enchanting, offering glimpses of sandy beaches, dramatic ocean views, stunning beach-front mansions, and the wild beauty of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area.

“Downtown” Malibu is a fairly compact area where many of the city’s attractions are located. It’s made up of the Mediterranean-looking and highly convenient Malibu Colony Plaza – known locally as The Colony – on the ocean-side of PCH, and the ever-popular Cross-Creek shopping area on the mountain-side, consisting of the perennial favorite Malibu Country Mart and the recently developed Malibu Lumber Yard Mall.

Here you can pretty much shop till you drop at one of the many trendy boutiques popular with the stars, catch a film at the newly renovated Malibu cinema, enjoy some of the best gourmet and comfort cuisine available on the California coast, and just lounge around in the sunny SoCal weather star-watching.

Malibu’s Adamson House

Nearby the Malibu Colony, in the midst of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach Park, you can find the Adamson House, a National Historic Landmark. According to Jane Hulse’s article “Taj Mahal of Tile” (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 18, 1997) the Adamson House is known as the “Taj Mahal of tile” due to its extensive use of decorative ceramic tiles made locally. With its own rich heritage, the house has been put to good use as a sort of museum displaying Malibu’s surprisingly interesting history.

The Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach
Malibu's Well-Loved Pier Credit: wyteone

Malibu’s Well-Loved Pier Credit: wyteone

The Malibu Pier is a Southern California landmark central to the region’s surf culture. It is located next to the iconic Surfrider Beach, frequented by surfers from around the world and renowned for its excellent breaks. In fact, Surfrider Beach is so loved that it is being declared as “the first World Surfing Reserve” this fall (“Malibu to be Declared a World Surfing Reserve”, Surfline, July 22, 2010).

The Pier itself was renovated a few years back and has seen a sort of renaissance since, with a return of the “festive seaside atmosphere of good food and good fun” that used to prevail in its heydey, states the department of California State Parks.

The Getty Villa in Malibu

The Getty Villa is an arm of LA’s world-famous Getty Center, which displays the museum’s impressive collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Etrurian cultural artifacts. The Villa’s architecture and gardens are reminiscent of ancient Rome and, together with the displays, provide a truly educational and inspiring visit.

Malibu’s Point Dume

The Point Dume State Preserve is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. Located on a wind-swept bluff overlooking the ocean and an isolated beach, Point Dume offers some amazing views that, on a clear day, can encompass all of Santa Monica Bay and beyond. The area is also popular as an ideal spot for whale-watching, since California Gray Whales tend to frequent the cove below during migration season.

The affluent, beach-side city of Malibu is world-renowned for being the home to many a Hollywood celeb, but this town isn’t all about fame. Malibu has a rich heritage and plenty of attractions, including breathtaking scenery, warm beaches, stunning sunsets, excellent food, trendy shopping and a friendly community that’s always ready to welcome visitors.

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