Malibu is a famous hamlet just north of downtown LA and south of Santa Barbara. In my opinion, this little town has the best of two worlds – jaw dropping coastline on one side, with dramatic canyons and mountains on the other. It’s also known for its multi-million dollar homes and a level of privacy and exclusivity desired by many celebrities.
For non-Californians, hop a flight to LAX and you’ll only be a 30 minutes’ drive (sans traffic) from the heart of Malibu. I’d suggest renting a car so you have the flexibility to venture around on your own, but it’s also easy enough to Uber.
From San Diego, Malibu is about a 2.5 hour drive. I recommend breaking up the trip with some stops along the way. For our trip, we stopped on the way up in Oceanside for lunch at Hello Betty and a walk along the oceanside pier, as well as some shopping at the San Clemente outlets (home to the only Rainbow Sandals store!).
On the return trip, we grabbed some quick bites in Carlsbad at the newly opened Windmill Food Hall. If you don’t mind going the slightly slower route along the coast, you can easily make stops in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Santa Monica.
WHERE TO STAY
- Malibu Beach Inn – We spent two nights at Malibu Beach Inn and absolutely loved it! You’re directly on the water and the rooms have everything you could need and want. Read more about my stay at this boutique hotel here.
- Nobu Ryokan Malibu – Just down Carbon Beach (aka “Billionaire’s Beach), you’ll find an exclusive sanctuary at Nobu’s first hotel. With just 16 rooms designed in the style of a traditional Japanese Inn, guests enjoy a wellness-conscious, peaceful retreat – and of course some great sushi at Nobu Malibu next door.
WHERE TO EAT
- Malibu Farm Restaurant – Located at the start of Malibu Pier, the original location for Malibu Farm Restaurant is known for its farm-to-table “healthy-ish” cuisine.
- Malibu Farm Cafe – The restaurants more casual sister is located at the end of the pier and a perfect stop for a quick bite at breakfast or lunch.
- Marmalade Cafe – Great spot for sandwiches and salads, as well as brunch. Located in the Malibu Country Mart shopping center.
- Duke’s Malibu – Hawaiian-inspired cuisine, set right on the ocean.
- Geoffrey’s – An old school fish spot, also right on the ocean; great for special occasions or a romantic date night.
- Carbon Beach Club – The restaurant at Malibu Beach Inn features farm-fresh ingredients and a variety of American favorites.
- Nobu Malibu – If you can get a reservation, you’ll find all the Nobu favorites in the perfect oceanfront setting.
WHAT TO DO
- Beach – Carbon Beach (aka “Billionaire’s Beach”) is a great spot for swimming, surfing and just general people watching. You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards in calmer waters.
- Malibu Creek State Park – Just a 15 minute drive from the beach, you’re up in the mountains and canyons and can find some great trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The property was formerly owned by 21st Century Fox and was used as the shooting location for many well known films and shows, including Bonanza. Now operated as a State Park, you’ll find incredible wilderness just minutes from the ocean.
- Adamson House & Malibu Lagoon Museum – Though we weren’t able to visit due to COVID, I am so intrigued by this museum and can’t wait to come back to Malibu to check it out. The site was once home to the Chumash Indians and later the Rindge family; the historic house dates to 1929.
- Malibu Wine Safari – Sadly this was also difficult for us to do during the week on top of COVID restrictions but if you love wild animals and wine (me!), this is probably the perfect activity.
- Shopping – Malibu Country Mart sounds old school but it’s an upscale open-air shopping center. You’ll also find some instagram worthy shops on the Malibu pier.
WHEN TO GO
Malibu, like much of LA, is really nice year-round. Of course in the summer you’ll have more beach days, while the “winter” will be cooler and you may have some rain. But really any time is a great time to be on the SoCal coast!