The Top 8 Things to Do in Malibu

Mother and two daughters surfing in Malibu.
Mother and two daughters surfing in Malibu. | © weberfoto / Alamy Stock Photo
Just outside of urban Los Angeles is one of Southern California’s most picturesque coastlines and coveted cities: Malibu.

Malibu’s numerous star-studded residents hide out in their canyon-side estates, while down at the beach, surfers and dolphins ride gentle waves. Make the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and discover all the things to see and do in this laid-back paradise.

Go surfing

You haven’t truly visited Malibu if you haven’t seen it from the ocean atop a surfboard. Radfish Malibu, created by former professional surfer Tony Radfish, provides lessons to those not quite ready to charge the Southern California breaks. Rent a board and paddle out to one of the many famous surf spots like Zuma or County Line.

Surfing in Malibu © David Crockett Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Aloha Hour at Duke's

Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
Duke's Malibu, Los Angeles, California
Duke's Malibu, Los Angeles, California | © Duke's Malibu

Named after Native Hawaiian Olympian and master waterman Duke Kahanamoku, this seaside restaurant and bar features island-inspired dishes like lilikoi ceviche and furikake ahi tuna. After a long day at the beach, sip on a tropical cocktail while overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Duke Malibu’s Barefoot Bar. It’s most popular on weekday evenings for the aloha hour when beer is just $5 and food is $2 off.

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Visit the Adamson House

Historic Adamson House, Malibu, California.
Historic Adamson House, Malibu, California. | © divanov / Shutterstock

After stopping by the Malibu Pier, walk over to the historic Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum for a bit of California history and ecology. The impressive Spanish Colonial Revival style mansion is surrounded by manicured gardens that slope down right to the sandy beach. Sentiments of old California are present in the colorful tile work, decorative fountains, and detailed frescoes that fill the estate. The space is listed as a National Historic Site, California Historical Landmark, and a California State Park.

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Explore the Santa Monica Mountains

Malibu offers much more than spectacular beaches paired with water sports. Locals often escape to the Santa Monica Mountain Range for remarkable hiking and waterfalls. Solstice Canyon and Escondido Falls are very popular trails, while thru-hikers can take on all or part of the 67-mile Backbone Trail. As of March 2019, many hiking trails remain closed after the devastating Woolsey Fire, but will hopefully open up again soon.

Hiker on the Santa Monica mountains © Sarah Hadley / Alamy Stock Photo

Go whale watching

Each spring grey whales make their way past the Malibu coast during their annual migration. View these enormous mammals up close, alongside pods of dolphins and sea lions, with Malibu Coastal Adventures. The whale watching tours leave from Malibu Pier during whale season, which is typically between February and April.

Malibu Pier, California. © Backyard Productions / Alamy Stock Photo

Lunch on the pier at Malibu Farm

Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
For healthy, locally sourced bites and sweeping ocean views, stop for lunch (or brunch) at the Malibu Farm Restaurant. It’s located right at the entrance of the Malibu Pier and shouldn’t be confused with the counter service-only Malibu Farm Café at the end of the pier. This popular waterfront restaurant prides itself on its sustainable farm-to-table menu, which is worth the usual long wait for a table.
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Camp at Malibu Creek State Park

Tree in Malibu Creek State Park, Los Angeles.
Tree in Malibu Creek State Park, Los Angeles. | © Ian Grant / Alamy Stock Photo
There are a few campgrounds in Malibu, but none is as peaceful as Malibu Creek State Park. The campground is located within a secluded canyon surrounded by hiking trails, swimming holes, and wildlife, yet is still just a short drive to the coast. All fitness levels can enjoy the hiking trails, and you may even recognize the terrain from Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H, both of which were filmed here.
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Sample local wines

Napa Valley isn’t the only place in California known for its variety of vineyards. Malibu wine country is home to many renowned vineyards where oenophiles can partake in unique tasting experiences. The ultra-popular Malibu Wine Safari gives you just that – a few glasses of vino while viewing safari animals like a resident giraffe called Stanley. There’s also the Rosenthal tasting room, Malibu Family Wines, Cornell Winery & Tasting Room, SIP Malibu, and Malibu Wines, so why not make a day of it.

Vineyards in Malibu, California © Alexandre Moraes / Shutterstock
These recommendations were updated on June 26, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.