Day trip: Malibu, CA

Malibu in fall: Southern California's beautiful summer weather without the summer crowds

Malibu, CA surfer

Be one with the waves — and the surfers. Rent a kayak at Malibu Surf Shack to glide past Surfrider Beach, Carbon Beach, and the star-studded Malibu Colony.

Andrea M. Gómez

Malibu, CA horseback riding

Channel your inner John Wayne riding horseback from Park Place Stable on the trails through Malibu’s rugged meadow-and-mountain ranching country.

Andrea M. Gómez

Malibu Café restaurant

The Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch is a rare outdoor wonderland were you can play bocce in the lawn, take a leisurely raft ride, then feast on lobster claw egg rolls all in the same afternoon.

Andrea M. Gómez

Malibu, CA Private Beach

You're definitely going to hit the beaches during a day trip to Malibu so choose wisely. The 1/4-mile stretch from El Matador at Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach downcoast to Lechuza Beach is ever-so scenic.

Andrea M. Gómez

Getting there

  • Malibu, CA Map

    Malibu stretches along 21 miles of Pacific Coast Hwy./State 1, beginning 4 miles up the coast from Santa Monica.

Get into the great outdoors: Spend a whole day outside, and you’ll understand why the stars (the movie ones) are here—for the sea, mountains, sun, and sky.

Number of coastal miles: 27

Number of beaches: About 30

Locals call it: The ’Bu.

Unofficial town square: The Malibu Country Mart  outdoor mall and its new neighbor, the Malibu Lumber Yard.

Best place to pick up a picnic: John’s Garden takeout deli ($; 3835 Cross Creek Rd.; 310/456-8377).

Best catch: Malibu Seafood ($$; 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310/456-3430), a local fave with long outdoor picnic tables overlooking the ocean.

A shake with a view: Ruby’s Shake Shack ($; 23000 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310/456-3443), at the end of Malibu Pier, offers a view of world-famous Surfrider Beach.

Best-kept lunch secret: The Godmother of Malibu ($$; closed Sun; 23847 Stuart Ranch Rd.; 310/456-3254) at the private Malibu Racquet Club is open to the public, serving fresh eats and lemonade courtside.

THINGS TO DO IN MALIBU

Hang out with the dolphins: Rent a sit-on-top kayak at Malibu Surf Shack, and get a seafarer’s view of the coast. You’ll glide past the hang-10 mecca Surfrider Beach, Carbon (aka Billionaire’s) Beach, and the star-studded Malibu Colony. Single kayaks $20/hour, $35/day; 22935 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310/456-8508.

Get back in the saddle: The horseback trail rides from Park Place Stable traverse Malibu’s rugged meadow-and-mountain ranching country, with high peaks in every direction and ocean views around the bend. From $65/hour; 310/589-8845.

Where to eat an alfresco brunch: From PCH, wind up Kanan Dume Road to Malibu Café, an outdoor wonderland at Calamigos Ranch. The lawn is dotted with couches, and chandeliers hang from the trees. Play bocce or explore the pond in a Huck Finn–style raft. Order the heart-stopping lobster claw egg roll, a steal at $16. $$$; 327 S. Latigo Canyon Rd.; 818/540-2400.

Your own private beach: There are loads of beaches to pick from, but the 1/4-mile stretch from El Matador (4 miles east of Leo Carrillo State Park; $8 parking; parks.ca.gov) at Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach downcoast to secret Lechuza Beach is the most scenic, with sea cliffs, tidepools, and 30-foot rock formations topped with cormorants.

Make it an (outside) overnight: Sleep under the stars at Leo Carrillo State Park, with spacious shaded campsites, a store, and a beach across PCH with tidepools and sea caves to explore. $35; reservations recommended; 35000 W. Pacific Coast Hwy.; parks.ca.gov (info) or reserveamerica.com (reservations).

More outdoor adventures in Malibu

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