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Things to do in Malibu: 10 cool and unusual Malibu activities

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Today we’re looking into the best things to do in Malibu, Ca.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this stunning destination, that’s why you are here to discover what to do in Malibu. But where is Malibu located? It’s a small, charming California city almost everyone knows about but very few people have actually visited. Malibu is a beach city in the region of Los Angeles County in California, exactly 48 km (30 miles) from Los Angeles’s west downtown. Now you know it!

Malibu Beach pops up in the news after a landslide takes another mansion, or a celebrity buys another multimillion-dollar palace perched on the cliffs between the sea and the land.

Sunset view of Topanga beach in scenic Malibu, California.
Sunsets here are stunning. We know it!

There is a good reason why so many rich and famous people call Malibu their home. Malibu is overlooking the ocean on one side and has its back in the lush canyons and tree-covered parks. 

It has an interesting history, breathtaking natural beauty, and many stories to tell from its very interesting past and present inhabitants. Definitely worth a visit and you will need more than one day to see all the attractions Malibu has to offer.

Here is our top pick of the fun things to do in Malibu:

1. Point Dume State Beach and Preserve

Point Dume State Beach and Preserve is a magnificent piece of California coast with a long expanse of sandy beach, steep cliffs, pounding waves, and small rocky coves. It is a long stretch on the very northern tip of Santa Monica Bay.

There is also another great spot called Point Dume Natural Area, which offers a view of Santa Catalina Island and Palos Verdes Peninsula. When you are visiting Malibu, it’s a great place to relax, get some sun, have a swim, or catch a fish.  

Beachside view of beautiful blue Pacific Ocean and stunning cliffs surrounding Dume Cove on a sunny day with clouds in the sky, Point Dume, Malibu, California
Point Dume postcard picture.

The Point Dume Beach gets some nice waves so you can often see surfers riding their peaks. If you like some outdoor adventure you can join a 4-hour rock climbing by the beach the instructors will keep you safe while you admire the beach from a  different and unique angle. 

There is a trail at the beach that leads to the top of the overhanging cliffs. It is quite a climb but the views are breathtaking.

There is a nice little observation point where you can sit, take a breath and contemplate the beauty of nature.

During the whale season, between December and April, look for these magnificent mammals as they migrate towards breeding grounds.

2. Visit Adamson House

Overlooking the Malibu Lagoon State Beach, at the point where Malibu Creek enters the Pacific Ocean, the Adamson House was the first Malibu beach home.

It’s also an architectural masterpiece known as “The Taj Mahal of Tile” for the amazing diversity of tiles that cover so much of the interior.

Historic Adamson House, Malibu, California. Visiting the house is one of the coolest things to do in Malibu Ca.
Adamson House is one of Malibu’s must-see places.

Built in 1929 in the Mediterranean Revival style as a private home, it has a magnificent carved entrance door, fantastic frescoes, molded ceilings, elaborate cast ironwork, lead-glass windows and a huge number of hand-made decorative ceramic tiles made by Rufus Keeler of Malibu Potteries.

With its magical location, elegant architecture and art-filled interior, the Adamson House offers a perfect glimpse into the lifestyle of Malibu inhabitants, past and present. 

The house, Malibu Lagoon Museum (once the family beach house) and surrounding gardens are now a National Historic Site and are open to the public. 

3. Explore Escondido Falls

The 3.8-mile-long round trip hike that starts at the Pacific Coast Highway will take you to one of California’s most magnificent waterfalls.

Waterfall in Malibu, California. One more place to visit in Malibu.
Malibu has beaches and stunning waterfalls!

The paved Winding Way trail heads uphill for 0.75 miles along, passing some truly extravagant homes. You will gain about 200 feet before the trail starts going downhill to join Escondido Canyon Park.

The trail is easy and a great way for a family outing. It winds through flowering meadows, fields of mustard and fennel, hopping across a small creek that runs through Escondido Canyon.

The upper falls are on private property and are closed to the public, but the lower falls are well worth the track when the water is high, green with hanging moss, falling into a small pool.

Among all the activities in Malibu, Escondido Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains so it can get busy. If you want solitude, come early in the morning and avoid weekends.

If you enjoy a good hike, after visiting Malibu, plan a trip to the north part of the state, as the hikes in Northern California are amazing.

4. Enjoy the glamor of the Getty Villa

A subject of much controversy and disdain by art experts, Getty Villa is a big part of what makes this destination so unique and is an absolute must-see.

Lovely views of the Getty Villa in LA. It's one of the places you can visit in Malibu.
Lovely views of the Getty Villa in LA.

You don’t have to like the weird architecture that mimics Herculaneum Villa deli Papiri but you have to admire Paul Getty’s vision and perseverance.

Open originally in 1974 to store Getty’s personal holdings, the Getty Villa was later converted into a museum of Getty’s Mediterranean antiquities collection.

There are more than 1,200 artifacts on display. Most date to the period between 6,500 BC – 500 AD and cover a wide range of themes including the Trojan War and ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses.

Villa’s several hundred rooms host different collections or various temporary exhibitions, labs, and research libraries.

The Getty Villa is also home to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation program of the University of California.

Surrounding the villa is a traditional English ivy and rose garden decorated with priceless Roman statues.

The entrance to the museum is free but it requires a reservation. Another way to admire this incredible Malibu attraction is by flying over it. Here is a California Coastline Helicopter Tour that flies over Getty Villa and many more beautiful places around Malibu. 

5. Challenge yourself by hiking Mishe Mokwa Trail

If you’re spending some time in or near Malibu, you might want to get off the beach and do what ma the locals do: climb one of the scenic trails along the slopes of Santa Monica Mountain. 

Malibu, California, Mishe Mokwa Trail: A winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains
A winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains.

On the list of hiking and things to do in Malibu, the Mishe Mokwa Trail is one of the more challenging. It’s a six-mile loop trail, with several steep inclines, but nothing that requires special equipment or a particular fitness level.

You may want to leave your really young kids home – they may be asking you to carry them, which will be quite hard on the way up.

You will pass a few landmarks such as the Inspiration Point and the Split Rock. Check the register at the summit, you will see some big names who passed through. Add your name to it, you just did one of the most challenging Malibu activities so register it! 

Keen to learn about more hiking options around Malibu? Here is the full list of trails.

6. Discover Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is so scenic (and so close to Hollywood) that it played roles in a number of movies – Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H to mention just a couple.

Malibu Creek Park in California is hidden in the Santa Monica Mountains just north of Los Angeles by Pacific Coast Highway. Great for outdoor adventures, hikes, wildlife, and waterfalls. Sunsets.
It looks like a painting, but it’s real, trust us!

This jewel of the Santa Monica Mountains, the state park covers more than 8,000 acres of oak savannas, tallgrass plains, and soaring mountain peaks. 

There are 15 miles of hiking and biking trails winding along Malibu Creek, through sycamore and oak woodlands, crossing chaparral-covered slopes. 

Enjoy spectacular canyon vistas, dipping in the volcanic swimming hole, and climbing some fine rocks. It’s one of the most spectacular things to do in Malibu – you will enjoy it. 

Sorry, no dogs are allowed.

If you link biking, check out this e-bike tour in the Malibu mountains

7. Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach is Malibu’s landmark and its main attraction, known from every photo you have ever seen.

Almost two miles long, running parallel to the Pacific Coast Highway (here is a Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour for the highway), it’s a spectacular expanse of golden sand with all the usual facilities – restaurants, bars, lounge chairs and colorful umbrellas. 

Scenic view of Zuma Beach from the top of Point Dume. Malibu, California.
Malibu Beaches at their best!

It is usually full of beautiful tanned bodies, kids playing volleyball, tourists snapping photos hoping to spot a celebrity. 

There are lifeguards to keep the kids safe, happy surfers riding the waves, and fishermen hoping to catch their dinner.

If you like surfing, then join this cool Malibu Beach surf tour in a vintage VW Van. You get to ride the waves, the van and the beach surroundings, no doubt one of the most unique things to do in Malibu. 

In the winter, you can spot the seals and dolphins from the ridge above the beach.

8. Malibu Pier

Next to the very popular Surfrider Beach, Malibu Pier is a perfect line fishing and sunset-watching spot. 

Another must thing to do in Malibu Beach is visiting its pier. Postcard view, blue sky, and beautiful ocean waves.
Postcard view, blue sky, and beautiful ocean waves.

About 780 feet long, the pier is always full of tourists and locals, fishing or watching surfers riding the waves. The pier is noisy, cheerful and crowded and no tourist can visit Malibu and miss strolling across the pier.

The pier is also the place for watching sunsets or having a nice meal in one of the restaurants.

9. Malibu Country Mart

If you are wondering where Barbara Streisand and her neighbors buy their tomatoes, you should know that they go to the Malibu Country Mart.

The Country Mart is a shopping area in the Malibu Civic Center of California. It includes all sorts of luxury shops for fashion, eating, and playing.

All the shops and restaurants are surrounded by lush gardens, playgrounds, picnic spaces, sculptures, and eateries. They are constructed in a mish-mash of styles, from Mediterranean and Spanish to rustic and modern.

Of course, one of the best-known tourist activities in Malibu is to hope to spot a celebrity, so the Country Mart often gets overrun by tourists.

If you manage to get there, do not miss trying gelato from Grom.

10. Geoffrey’s

Being surrounded by all the glamor and wealth of the celebrity mansions, you should immerse yourself in it for just a short time and eat at the famous Geoffrey’s restaurant.

Opened in 1948, this magnificent restaurant has been the favorite spot of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Shirley MacLaine, and Frank Sinatra.

It is still one of the greatest area’s chic restaurants usually visited for special occasions.

The best table is on the terrace overlooking the ocean and surrounded by a lush garden. Indoors is gorgeous too, elegant and opulent, and only matched by incredible food prepared by Executive Chef Bijan Shokatfard. 

The menu is seafood-focused, super fresh and it goes great with one of their superb wines.

Talking about wines, there are some wine tasting tours in Malibu you can join. Check out these two options below:

Where to stay in Malibu, tips for all travelers!

Before you live, here are some suggestions of hotels in Malibu that suits any type of traveler:

Over to you – Which places do you want to explore?

If you are driving between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and down to San Diego, give yourself some time to spend in Malibu.

Even if you are not obsessed with celebrities and their lifestyle, there are plenty of things to do in Malibu. It is a lovely, very charming California town. 

It seamlessly combines spectacular nature with unique architecture and plenty of art. It also offers great opportunities for outdoor activities and some fine dining experiences. For more US travel tips, click here.

Love this what to do in Malibu guide? Pin it for later!

Your Malibu Guide is here! Follow our tips on what to do in Malibu and have fun. We listed the best things to do in Malibu, from beach and surfing to nature, hiking, and some of the best Malibu attractions. You will also find in this guide some suggestions for tours and Malibu activities and some of the best Malibu hotels to stay in. Enjoy it!

Author: Lorena Maia

This is a post by Lorena Maia who runs her own travel blog TravelCroc. Lorena has been a travel blogger for over 5 years. She naturally fell into writing about travel because she has lived in South America, Europe and most recently Australia. She tries to travel as much as she can, and loves sharing her travel experiences.

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