The Malibu Guide
At its heart, the city of Malibu is a small town—with its remarkable concentration of some of the prettiest hiking trails in the country, 20-plus distinct beaches, and a close-knit community of local-owned businesses, it’s also so much more than just “27 miles of scenic beauty.” There’s a lot of history here (the land was originally inhabited by the Chumash Native Americans and the ocean breaks were among the first to welcome surfers back in the ’20s), the best of which, many would argue, is still in the making thanks to a recent influx of fledgling shops, boutique hotels, and restaurants. An easy 25-minute drive from LA, Malibu is bisected by the Pacific Coast Highway (aka California State Route 1, if you want to get technical), which runs along the California coast from Orange County, through Big Sur, and all the way up to Mendocino, leaving the beach on one side and the stunning Santa Monica mountains on the other—in other words, road-trip gold.
The Getty Villa17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades | 310.440.7330
Modeled after a first-century Roman country house, J. Paul Getty originally built the Getty Villa to house an art collection that was quickly outgrowing his house. Now, beyond touring the exquisite home and gardens, you can see his collection of 44,000 antiquities, with treasures that range from 6,500 B.C. to A.D. 400.
Surfrider, Sunset Beach, and Point Dume are probably the most talked-about swells along the Malibu coastline, but you don’t necessarily need to be a pro to surf them (for Point Dume, you do need to have a key though, unless you paddle over from one of the adjacent beaches). Fortunately, LA is packed with surf instructors. Friends swear by Chris “Crash” Carson ([email protected]), who will swim out with you and push you in, making it an all-around fun and successful endeavor.
Regal Twin Malibu Movie Theater3822 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu | 844.462.7342
Small, low-tech operations like Malibu’s only movie theater are something of a dying breed these days. At only two screens strong, the film options, while limited, are usually on point, covering the best of the new releases. This is where the locals go when driving over a canyon to a multiplex is too much of a hassle.
Malibu Surf Shack22935 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.456.8508
This isn’t the only spot on the highway to rent gear, but it’s arguably one of the best, due in no small part to its cozy proximity to Surfrider Beach. In addition to rentals—kayaks, boards (including SUP), and wetsuits—you can book lessons from skilled instructors who know their craft and the surrounding area. If you’ve got time to spare, consider arranging a guided kayak or paddle boarding tour. The shack is also a good place to purchase Malibu-centric souvenirs for pals back home.
Malibu Hindu Temple1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Rd., Malibu | 818.880.5552
Technically outside Malibu city limits in Calabasas, this gleaming, otherworldly, South Indian-style temple is a straight shot up Las Virgenes Canyon from PCH. The temple was built in 1981 for the god Venkateswara, with shrines for various deities scattered throughout the property along with ample space for quiet reflection and meditation. Other than the breathtaking architecture, what’s special is that participating in ceremonies or prayer isn’t a requirement—visitors are welcome to simply take it all in from the sidelines—just make sure to reference the rules of conduct. On weekends, the temple kitchen serves surprisingly delicious vegetarian snacks for a small charge.
Malibu Creek State Park1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas | 818.880.0367
Nestled into the Santa Monica mountains high above PCH, people call this state park the Yosemite of Southern California because of the many rock climbers it attracts year-round. It's also home to some great wildlife: On any given day, you can almost always find lizards, rattlesnakes, raccoons, foxes, bluebirds, and more up here. If rock climbing isn’t your thing, the park offers a long list of activities such as biking, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, camping, bird watching, and even painting. Fun fact: The park was formerly owned by 20th Century Fox Studios, and has starred in Pleasantville, The Seven Year Itch, and Love Me Tender, among many other films. Note: While you can bring them to your campsite, dogs aren't allowed in the backcountry here.
Adamson House23200 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.456.8432
This immaculately preserved 1930’s Moorish-Spanish-style villa serves an important purpose in the community: to educate visitors about the history of Malibu, going all the way back to the 18th century when the land was home to the Chumash Indians. You can see the entire house, with its elaborate tile work and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean during a one-hour guided tour, and if you visit on a Friday, save some time for a tour of the gardens as well. (Its' history and idyllic setting also make the property a coveted wedding venue.) Also on site is the Malibu Lagoon Museum, offering an even deeper dive into Malibu’s past.