09.09.2022
Malibu Travel Guide

kid at the ocean for Malibu Travel Guide

Because it’s not that far from LA but it feels like a vacation every time I go…

People who don’t live in LA don’t realize that Malibu, even though only about 40 miles from West Hollywood, is a little vacation away from the city.  Seriously – every time I go, I leave feeling refreshed and as if I had just taken a week-long beach vacation somewhere tropical.

Malibu Travel Guide

Here are a few other things you might not know about Malibu/a few tips when you go…

Malibu is actually super tiny, population-wise.

They only have about 12,000 residents; My friend Jordan is a resident and told me that everyone knows everyone.  The one thing that’s not small?  It’s beaches…21-miles of beach to be exact, and all absolutely stunning.

Always pack a sweater or light jacket.

Even in the summer.  The nights can get chilly and the clothing stores are 95% super expensive, so you don’t want to get stuck having to buy a $250 sweater from Vince at the Malibu Country Mart because you are freezing (this is very specific and clearly almost happened to me once, lol).

Make a reservation.

If wherever you wanna go takes reservations (they sometimes don’t), make that resy.  Malibu gets verrrry busy during the summer, and especially on the weekends (even in the off season).

view for Malibu Travel Guide Photo by Felipe Dornellas on Unsplash

{ EAT }

Malibu Farm

The Malibu Farm restaurant is not only delicious, but it’s also (surprisingly) really fun to eat on a pier? Ha.  Go for the farm-to-table food and the amazing views.

Malibu Seafood

One of my favorite road side spots off the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the seafood is fresh and AMAZING, and also not fancy at all (in the best way possible).  You can BYOB and have a full-on picnic at one of their outdoor picnic tables.

Neptune’s Net

Speaking of road side spots, Neptune’s Net is another great off-the-PCH option.  It’s a Malibu staple since the 1950’s and, honestly, is great for people spotting because it also happens to be a legit BIKER BAR – yes, there are always tons of motorcycles parked outside with leather-clad riders.  You’ve seen this restaurant in plenty of movies (you’ll recognize the sign for sure), and I personally recommend the beer-battered fish-and-chips.

NOBU Malibu

NOBU needs no introduction; if you’ve ever watched TMZ then you know NOBU is the celeb hot spot of Malibu, and honestly even LA.  Come for the amazing sushi, of course, but also for the absolutely gorgeous oceanside patio where you can sip cocktails and try to do some celeb spotting.  Yes, it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation, but I know from experience that going during the week (especially before 6pm) makes getting in a lot easier.

The Sunset Malibu

My friend Erika introduced me to this lesser-known spot last year and I’m OBSESSED.  The food is great but I come here mostly for the fact that it’s one of the few restaurants in Malibu that actually sits IN the sand.  If sand dining isn’t for you, they also have indoor seating where you can look out and see the Pacific ocean very clearly.

Mastro’s Ocean Club

If you’re in the mood for fancy AF seafood (the opposite of Neptune’s Net and Malibu Seafood), then Matro’s Ocean Club is for you.  It’s pricey, of course, but you get some really good food and some really amazing ocean views (I.e. you kinda feel like you’re on a boat).

 Cafe Habana

Co-owned by Randy Gerber (aka Cindy Crawford’s husband who also co-owns Casamigos tequila with George Clooney), this casual Cuban/Mexican spot is a local hot spot.  The food is delish, and I love that they also have karaoke every Wednesday where you will spot rando celebrities and locals alike.

ocean and rock view for Malibu Travel GuidePhoto by Job Rascon on Unsplash

{ DO }

Beaches!

There’s no shortage of beaches in Malibu since Malibu actually has 21-miles of beaches to choose from.  My favorites:

El Matador Beach:

Pictured above, you can see why this particular beach is a favorite for couples taking engagement photos and wannabe Instagram models.  The rocky arches are, simply put, stunning and this beach is definitely worth a look.  Is it annoying that every basic bitch in LA will be doing a photoshoot while you’re there?  Yes.  Is it still worth a visit?  Absolutely.

Zuma Beach:

Zuma is just far enough up the PCH that it’s never the most crowded.  I loooove this beach; it’s clean and gorgeous, and (almost) every time I go, I end up spotting dolphins playing in the surf.

Carbon Beach:

With it’s nickname “Billionaire’s Beach,” this is the beach you want if you also want to stalk some insanely gorgeous beachfront houses and, yes, you will probably see a famous person during the right time of year.  The caveat: there’s no direct access to this beach since, duh, it’s in front of rich people houses.  If you want to check out Carbon Beach then you’ll need to either park directly on the PCH or park in the parking lost located east of NOBU.  You’ll need to walk a bit to get down there but it’s totally worth it, trust me.

Locals-only secret beaches:

I’m here to tell you that, yes, there are secret beaches that only locals know how to get down to; One of my friends lives in the ‘Bu and was kind enough to take me a few times.  That said, I am now also going to tell you that I’m a jerk and I’m not gonna tell you where they are.  I can’t betray her trust and, selfishly, I don’t want those beaches to get too popular because I LOVE going and being almost totally alone.

I took my mom and nephew to one of the secret spots a few year ago and, when Mark first laid eyes on it from above, he screamed “OMG it’s like we have our own private island!”  Yep, it really does feel that way…and it’s gonna stay that way. 🙂 (Side note: the photo at the top of this post is my nephew running into the water at said secret beach)

Take a surf lesson

I mean if you’re gonna do Malibu, you may as well act like a local, right?  A few years ago Clinique had an event where they gave us all surf lessons and, believe me when I tell you, I had the time of my damn life.  Did I stand up on the board?  For like two seconds, yes.  Did it matter?  Absolutely not.

Go for a hike.  Find a waterfall.

I’m certainly not a hiking expert, but I do know that Malibu has quite a few hikes that are scenic and not insanely hard.  There are even a few that lead to waterfalls during certain times of the year – this story from Time Out lists the best hikes with waterfalls in Malibu.

Try a wine tasting

There are a few wineries up in the hills of Malibu but I actually really love the tasting room right on the PCH (across from Topanga Beach).  Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio is fab and I’m listing this under “do” rather than “eat” cause it’s definitely more of an experience than just eating or drinking at a regular bar.  They have a gorgeous interior with views of the Malibu mountains  and they serve plenty of Malibu-made wines from their twenty-acre vineyard a few miles away.  They have live music on the weekends and you are also welcome to bring your own food, games, etc.

{ STAY }

The Surfrider Malibu

Even though I’ve never actually stayed at The Surfrider, it would definitely be my first choice if I was going to book a hotel in Malibu.  It’s pricey but it’s perfectly located and, of course, absolutely stunning.  I mean LOOK AT THIS ROOFTOP.

Malibu Beach Inn

I actually stayed at the Malibu Beach Inn a few years ago for a friend’s bachelorette party and it did not disappoint.  It’s definitely less trendy, more traditional, and is located in a fab area – right on Carbon Beach (aka billionaire beach), neighboring Malibu Pier and NOBU.  You also must check out their restaurant, The Carbon Club, for its oceanside views and fun cocktails.

Malibu Beach Inn

{ SHOP }

Abierto

I randomly stumbled upon this shop a few months ago when I stopped in a strip mall off the PCH in search of a place I could quickly use the bathroom (ha, day trip problems).  That said, I am sooo happy I found it; this chic little gift shop is truly one of those unique stores where you can find a gift for that friend who has literally everything (like me).  It’s expertly curated and, most recently, I picked up two new bottles of Brightland olive oil because I was out.  They have books, cards, trinkets, dishes, bath products, artisan-made ceramics and more.

Cosentino’s Nursery

The first time my mom came to visit me in LA (back in 2010!), we stopped at this unassuming nursery off the PCH.  It was founded in 1950 and they have everything from succulents, to tomato plants, to beautiful floral arrangements, and every time I go I want to buy literally everything.

Sterling Farms

When I was in Malibu a few weekends ago, I realized that I was too late to head over to the Thorne Family Farm – a weekly neighborhood party of sorts held every Saturday.  Luckily for me, I stumbled upon Sterling Farms, a family-owned farm that sells fresh produce, eggs, etc.  I drove up the driveway and quickly saw the very kind older woman who then helped me pick out some of the most delicious (and very fresh!) tomatoes, lettuce, corn, eggs, zucchini and more.  You absolutely MUST go.

Malibu Country Mart

If you’re in the mood for more traditional shopping (aka stores you know), then Malibu Country Mart is your best bet.  It’s a really gorgeous outdoor mall (restaurant, too!), with every store from Sephora to Vince to Paige, etc.

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