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.
Sēfari25001 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.804.7920
Jobi Manson (who also happens to be behind Water & Spirit) spent the year before she opened her shop traveling throughout Africa, and her chic, macrame-filled space is filled with treasures from that trip. And while beaded necklaces, vintage safari-themed coffee table books, and prints of giraffes and lions clutter the tables and shelves, there's also plenty of merchandise that reflects Malibu's more beachy vibe, like tie-dye Kassia surf wetsuits, vintage suede jackets with fringe sleeves, beeswax candles, and a healthy supply of crystals. Manson's space serves as a co-working location for a few small local businesses, and she hosts creative workshops now and again, too.
James Perse3939 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu | 310.469.6030
Designed by the renowned architecture firm, Marmol Radziner, the minimalistic, sophisticated aesthetic of the Malibu flagship reflects the brand's philosophy; a perfect marriage of low-maintenance and quality. The large, pivoting doors fuse the interior and exterior, creating an indoor/outdoor atmosphere that makes the most of the idyllic setting (clients are welcome to make good use of the ping pong table on the deck). You may go in looking for clothes, but don’t be surprised to find yourself lounging on the furniture instead.
Maxfield3939 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu | 310.270.9009
The Malibu outpost of the iconic mini department store (unlike many other Malibu shopping destinations, it's actually free-standing, near the Malibu lumber yard) is Maxfield's take on beach essentials—meaning you'll find the shelves especially full of cashmere, sweatshirts, sneakers, and some swimwear. That said, the location is still rich with the punky, art-house personality that is Tommy Perse's aesthetic. You'll find gorgeous Givenchy bags, unusual art on the walls, quirky accessories (like J.W. Anderson's penis-shaped key rings), and hard-to-find designer furniture.
Malibu Country Mart3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu | 310.456.7300
Only half a block from the PCH in the heart of Malibu, and a 20-minute drive from LA, the Malibu Country Mart has something for everyone: a great blend of boutiques, both big-name and indie, including Oliver Peoples, Ron Herman, and a small but incredibly well-stocked Madison outpost. Plus, there are several galleries and a pleasantly manageable amount of restaurant options—everything from local treasure Taverna Tony to Mr. Chow. To keep the kiddos busy, there's a spacious outdoor playground with swings, sandboxes, and a jungle gym. A few steps up Cross Creek Road is the Lumber Yard, a newer, shinier shopping center home to a really pretty J.Crew concept shop.
Cosentino’s Nursery25019 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.456.6026
Cosentino’s has been Malibu's go to florist since its founding in 1950, and it’s easy to understand why. Located right at the intersection of Las Flores Canyon and the PCH, they offer everything from elaborate floral bouquets to succulents, many of which they grow in their nursery. Best of all, their prices are easy to justify—case in point: the two-dozen roses for $20 deal is available on most days, along with a selection of beachy giftables. You can order or pick up an arrangement on the spot, or visit their nursery farther up the coast, near Pepperdine, for the full experience.
Malibu Beach House30745 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.457.5600
True to its name, this shop is perfect for decorating a coastal beach house—or any house for that matter: Owners Doug and Laura Burdge have it packed to the rafters with pillows, throws, and bedding done in intricate Shibori patterns and crisp shades of blue—plus, every imaginable candle, Cali-themed coffee-table book, and trinket to seal the deal.
Canvas . Malibu23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu | 310.317.9895
The first thing you'll notice upon entering this gleaming two-story boutique-slash-gallery are the shoes, a nod to the shop's past as a sneakerhead mecca—it's a tight edit, but every pair is a slam dunk. The space has since evolved to house, among others, Nili Lotan basics, structured Assembly New York separates, and Diemme sneakers for women (they've recently revamped the upstairs loft to better accommodate the ladies) and Engineered Garments, Maison Kitsune, Visvim, and the house line of Japanese cotton shirting and basics for dudes. Seamlessly merchandising the apparel and shoes with art from both local and international artists is the doing of owners Arlington and Jac Forbes—both entertainment industry veterans—who do an incredible job of scouting fresh talent.
Zuma Canyon Orchids5949 Bonsall Dr., Malibu | 310.457.9771
Even if you’re not in the market for orchids (though odds are, you’ll go home with one or two new buds) this sprawling greenhouse and the surrounding grounds are worth a visit. In addition to à la carte flowers, the staff will gladly put together a beautiful arrangement right on the spot, arrange a local delivery, or even shipping. This is a sweet mom-and-pop operation, so expect hands-on service but none of the big-box nursery frills.
Ranch At The Pier23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.456.7857
One Gun Ranch's sweet two-story shop at the end of the pier (directly across from Malibu Farm) feels like the perfect Malibu hotel shop. There are plenty of luxury, gift-y items, like gorgeous candles, blank notebooks, and loose sweaters, plus beach essentials like blankets and towels, sunscreen, and sunglasses—and you can find the activewear line from local hero Laird Hamilton. Visitors can rent surfboards and fishing rods, too (they also have bait and tackle, as well as the necessary fishing permits).
SQN Sport23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu | 310.633.4966
With locations in Aspen and Sun Valley, it was only a matter of time before luxury athletic wear label SQN Sport found its way to the Malibu Country Mart. (Its name, Sine Qua Non, is Latin for “only the essentials.”) The made-in-the-USA label offers super-soft, breathable staples in a muted palette of white, charcoal, and black. Look for long-sleeved layering tees, flat seam leggings, and easy-to-throw-on cocoon sweaters that can take you from an afternoon hike to dinner on the beach.
Sunroom Malibu3900 Cross Creek Rd., #3A, Malibu | 310.317.0944
Owner Lucy Jolis has the uncanny ability to pull together a shop full of brands you love (Apiece Apart, Rachel Comey, Warm, and Eve Denim), plus smaller, lesser-known labels like Shaina Mote and Miranda Bennett in a way that still feels surprising. The space, tucked into a well-trafficked corner of the Malibu Country Mart, is just as inviting to shop in—it's not overly packed with items to browse, instead it's thoughtfully broken up into swimwear, party dresses, wear-anywhere pieces. Don't miss the jewelry display, which includes a nice selection of small gold-and-turquoise pieces from Larisa Laivins, plus pendants by goop favorite CVC Stones. The original location is in Austin.