Malibu is a place that piques the imagination. Gidget and Moondoggie hung out there in the iconic 1960s sitcom. It's also where Tony Stark's mansion sits in the Iron Man movies.
The small town of about 12,000 people covers about 20 square miles and has 27 miles of beach. Along about 20 of those miles, private homes stand between the highway and the ocean.
It's a laid back, quiet place set in idyllic natural beauty.
Most days, it feels like the Southern California you may have imagined, but without the crowds and traffic jams.
Malibu is a place to get out of LA's hustle-bustle. You can see the same stretch of scenic coastline that attracts all those highly-paid folks. If you want to go to the beach and have a nice meal, Malibu might be just the spot for your next getaway.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like Malibu?
Malibu is well known as a place where Richy Rich and Sally Celebrity live. Don't let that mislead your thinking. You won't see this week's Hollywood Hottie shopping at the local Von's grocery store.
You'll like Malibu if you have the right expectations and enjoy spending a day at the beach.
Best Time to Go to Malibu
Los Angeles and Malibu weather are best in spring and fall when skies are clearer, and there's little chance of rain. September through November is best for surfing, with cleaner water and even warmer temperatures.
If you've only got a day, take a drive along CA Hwy 1 from Santa Monica to Zuma Beach. You'll have time to see some of the sights below along the way.
5 More Great Things to Do in Malibu
- Getty Villa: The original Getty Museum is housed in a replica of an Italian villa and filled with interesting antiquities. Admission is free, but reservations are required - and there is a parking fee.
- Malibu Pier: It's a California icon, with two scenic buildings, especially pretty at sunset. You'll find a sportfishing company, a restaurant and a shop selling Malibu memorabilia.
- Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach: They're both very close to the Malibu Pier, and you could park in one spot and visit all three. Surfrider is one of Malibu's most popular surfing spots when the waves are high and the lagoon is a lovely tidal wetland and also nearby is the Adamson House. You'll find more about it in the LA Beach Guide
- Paradise Cove: On an especially nice day, you'll think this privately owned beach resort is aptly named. There's a nice restaurant right on the sand, and you get several hours of free parking with a minimum food purchase. It's all so relaxing that you won't even mind if the kitchen is a little slow preparing your meal. On the beach, you'll find clean sand and beach chairs for lounging. I think this place is the most fun in the morning or late afternoon near sunset. You'll find more about it in the LA Beach Guide.
- Fun Side Trip: Take Malibu Canyon Road (which becomes Las Virgenes) east from Pacific Coast Highway to see a couple of very different but equally interesting spots.
- Malibu Creek State Park at 1925 Las Virgenes Road is a great place for a hike. But its claim to fame is for being the outdoor filming location for the classic television show M*A*S*H. Get directions for a hike to the main set.
- At 1600, Las Virgenes, look for the Venkateswara Temple. Its classic design brings to mind some of India's prettiest places of worship. It's open to the public as long as you're respectful and remove your shoes before going in.
Depending on your interests, you may also enjoy the Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University or the Adamson House, an extraordinary 1930s home filled with over-the-top Malibu tile. For even more great architecture, the Eames House is in Pacific Palisades, just north of the Malibu city limits.
Annual Events You Should Know About in Malibu
- July: Malibu Arts Festival
- Septemeber: Malibu Surfing Classic Invitational at Surfrider Beach
- October: The Food Event, sponsored by Los Angeles magazine is held at Saddlerock Ranch
Tips for Visiting Malibu
Despite what it may look like in parts of the Malibu coastline, every California beach is open to the public below the high tide line. It's easy to recognize as the highest place where the sand is wet. Check a tide table to find out when they're lowest, so you don't get trapped or forced onto private property.
- You're going to be wondering how much some of those mega-mansions cost. Add the Zillow app to your mobile device and it will be easy to find out.
Geoffrey’s Malibu is a long-time local favorite, especially nice for a special occasion dinner.
Yelp reviewers say Malibu's best-kept lunch secret is The Godmother of Malibu. It overlooks the Malibu Racquet Club.
If you want to have a picnic on the beach, Trancas Country Market at CA Hwy 1 and Trancas Canyon Road is a good place to pick up some picnic grub.
Where to Stay
In Malibu itself, you'll find only a few places to stay, and some are far lower rated than you might expect for an area with such a high-class reputation. Check availability, compare prices and read guest reviews at Tripadvisor. You can also choose a hotel on the north side of Santa Monica as your base.
If you're traveling in an RV, try one of the nearby campgrounds.
Where Is Malibu?
The town of Malibu has a 27-mile long coastline, but the 20-plus-mile long stretch of coastline north of it is also part of your getaway.
Downtown Malibu is located 33 miles from downtown Los Angeles, 150 miles from San Diego and 127 miles from Bakersfield.
The nearest airport is LAX.