25 Best Things to Do in Malibu (CA)

Located in Western Los Angeles County, Malibu is nicknamed “the Bu” by locals and surfers drawn to the pristine beaches that surround the city. There is a reason behind the ‘21 miles of scenic beauty’ signs proudly hung up around the city.

While it is more commonly known for being the home of Hollywood actors and executives as well as other celebrities, there is also a large middle-class community in the city, making it a well-balanced city to live in. While the population of Malibu is officially just over 10,000, the city attracts countless surfers chasing the best waves.

Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Malibu, CA

Source: Map data @2022 Google

1. Point Dume

Point Dume
Source: Unsplash / John Michael Wilyat

Located on the southernmost tip of Malibu, Point Dume is an excellent place for water activities such as swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and fishing. Its cliffs and rocky coves will provide a unique scenery that is difficult to replicate anywhere else. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the Catalina island on the distant horizon.

In addition to this, there are few better places than Point Dume to come up and close gray whales that pass by during their migration season between December and mid-April. The immaculately preserved sand dunes that surround you will just add to the picturesque scenery.  

2. Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach
Source: Flickr / edwardhblake | CC BY 2.0

Zuma beach is just another one of the exceptional beaches scattered around California and can be found right next to Point Dume. A staple of both tourists and locals alike, Zuma beach is famous for the white sand that has elevated it to notoriety.

While the beach has become a popular bodysurfing and swimming destination, it is also notorious for its rough tides so we would definitely not recommend it to beginners. You can also engage in surfing and windsurfing at the beach. Whether you want to partake in any of these activities or are just looking for a relaxing time at the beach, this beach spanning 1.8 miles is an amazing destination.

3. Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Source: Flickr / Shinya Suzuki | CC BY-ND 2.0

Known as Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon Beach is among the best places on earth to catch a few waves. More than simply a surfing destination, the beach is also one of the best places to do some saltwater fishing.

You can also find the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum that preserve the rich history of the area at this popular beach. There are even guided tours of the wetlands and other natural elements as well as gray whale spotting tours offered seasonally. Malibu Lagoon State Beach is the best place to immerse yourself in the history of Malibu and find a newfound appreciation of the area.

4. Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park
Source: Flickr / Tracie Hall | CC BY-SA 2.0

Ending at the Malibu Lagoon, the Malibu Creek State Park offers a range of activities such as hiking, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, and rock climbing to name just a few. Headlined by the 14-mile Malibu Creek, this State Park is steeped in Chumash Native American Tribe history.

Its most historic attraction is the Sepulveda Adobe that was constructed in the 19th century and continues to attract tourists even after being burned down by wildfire in 2018. Another historic adobe was built in the 20th century and the stone fireplace that is left standing also continues to attract visitors. It is no wonder then that iconic scenes from movies such as the Planet of the Apes were shot at the park.

5. Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon
Source: Flickr / oliver.dodd | CC BY 2.0

The Solstice Canyon of the Santa Monica Mountains offers a 2.6 round trip hike highlighted by a small waterfall flowing along the historic ruins. Its relative ease makes it a fantastic place for a family-outing and attracts visitors from all over.

From the start of the trail at the Solstice Canyon Education Shelter to its end at the ruins of the Tropical Terrace ranch house, the trail will give off a tropical ambiance and bring you closer to nature. There are plenty of picnic locations scattered along the trail so you can take a quick break and grab a bite to eat before heading on your way.  

6. El Matador Beach

El Matador Beach
Source: Flickr / Prayitno Photography | CC BY 2.0

The most popular of the three Robert H. Meyer Memorial State beaches, El Matador beach manages to stand out from the countless other beaches in the region. The stunning sunsets and the scenery of the beach attract countless photographers and swimsuit models chasing the perfect shot.

You can engage in any water-based activity at this beach but you will have just as good a time exploring the caves and arches in the rocks at the Northern side of the beach. If you do decide to visit those natural features, you will most likely want to visit during low tide in order to get the best look.

7. Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park
Source: Flickr / Connar L’Ecuyer | Public Domain

The main draw of the Leo Carrilo State Park is its hiking trails suited for enthusiasts with any level of experience. If you don’t have any hiking experience, you may want to start off with the Leo Carrillo Beach Trail. In case you are looking for more of a challenge, you can try your hand at the Yellow Hill Trail and Nicholas Flat Trail.

In order to fully immerse yourself into the beauty of this park, you may want to consider staying overnight at the 100 camp-site campground at the park. The park also offers some amazing programming such as the Campfire program and the Junior Ranger Program. Naturally, the park is also a popular site for school field trips as well.

8. Malibu Wine Safaris

Malibu Wine Safaris
Source: Flickr / Justin Sewell | CC BY 2.0

This truly unique experience combines a tour of the 1,000-acre Saddlerock Ranch with two tastings of the finest wines Malibu has to offer. During the ride, you will come across exotic animals like zebras, water buffalo, buffalo, and even a Giraffe. Once your safari is over, you are welcome to enjoy a few more drinks at the Malibu Wines and Beers Garden.

If the exhilarating feeling of the wind in your hair in an open-roof 4×4 isn’t your thing, you can opt for the 2-mile Malibu Wine Hike. Whichever option you choose, it will be one of the most unique experiences in your life.

9. The Getty Villa

The Getty Villa
Source: Flickr / Prayitno Photography | CC BY 2.0

This gallery is at the intersection of art and architecture, offering its visitors a unique experience. The Getty Villa was established by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty in 1954 and the permanent collection at this art gallery boasts 44,000 pieces of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiques. You will come across a wide range of works from the bronze age and other periods in history.

The gallery also runs fascinating temporary collections and past exhibits have highlighted Michelangelo and Mesopotamian art, among others. There are also an array of online resources ranging from its online collections and 100,000 works of art offered as open source.

10. Malibu Pier

Malibu Pier
Source: Flickr / Keith Yahl | CC BY 2.0

The Malibu Pier is a staple of the city with over a century of storied history. Recognizable by its iconic twin towers, the pier has become a cultural hub of Malibu. Whether you are seeking a bite to eat at the Malibu Farm or looking to shop at the Miansai, you will have an incredible time at the Pier.

Moreover, a 50-foot cruise boat, Malibu Waverider will soon be operational after undergoing extensive renovations adding yet another attraction to the Pier. Finally, if you are up for it, you can grab a kayak or paddleboard from Malibu Surf Shark and head to the beach.

11. Point Dume State Beach

Point Dume State Beach
Source: Flickr / Matt Kieffer | CC BY-SA 2.0

This beach located just beside Point Dume can only be accessed from a secluded trail and is therefore somewhat of a hidden gem. The crescent-shaped beach offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of Malibu and the crowded beaches that it is renowned for.

Discovering the endless trails around the beach will be a pure delight and it will almost seem that you’ve been transported to another world. For the ultimate experience, make your way to the hidden Pirates Cove Beach from the Westward beach parking lot and immerse yourself into the secluded beach.

12. Adamson House Museum

Adamson House Museum
Source: Flickr / stephen davis | CC BY 2.0

This historic house has a storied history that spans almost an entire century. You will be fascinated by the amazing ceramic tiles on display through the house but the 60-foot tile take on the classic Persian carpet will simply take your breath away. Walking through the house, you will be transported back to the 1920s when California had a booming ceramics industry.

Attached to the house is the Malibu Lagoon Museum that provides an insight into Chumash Indian and Spanish California history and culture through rare photographs, documents, and artifacts. There are few better places to immerse yourself in California culture.   

13. Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach
Source: Flickr / Martin | CC BY-ND 2.0

Part of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach, the Surfrider beach came to prominence with the help of the old surfing movies of the 60s and 70s. In fact, the beach was the first beach designated as a World Surfing Reserve.

If you are just taking up surfing, you needn’t worry as you can simply grab a board from Surf Shack at the nearby Pier and take a few lessons with one of the many trainers at the beach. While the spot is also popular for swimming, it is worth noting that swimming is limited at the beach. After working up an appetite, you can head over to the Malibu Farm Pier Café for a fantastic meal.

14. Escondido Falls

Escondido Falls
Source: Flickr / Eric Chan | CC BY 2.0

This picturesque waterfall is one of the most beautiful ones in California. The 1.9-mile trail leading to the waterfall will be well worth your trouble as the otherworldly beauty of the waterfall opens up. Perhaps the best thing about this trail is that anyone can make the hike no matter their experience.

If you are seeking more adventure, you are able to take the experience further by hiking to the Upper Escondido Falls that is a much harder trail but the scenery that will open up is infinitely better. In case that isn’t enough and you are not afraid of getting a little wet, you can attempt to make your way to the small landing behind the fall for the ultimate experience.

15. Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park
Source: Flickr / Craig Stanfill | CC BY-SA 2.0

The idyllic beach along 5-miles of shoreline stands out with its rocky bluffs, sand dunes, and hills. This scenery is capped off by two major river canyons and you can indulge in some of the best swimming, body surfing, and surf fishing here.

However, what puts Point Mugu over the top is the 70 miles of expansive trails that you can get lost in for days. There are few better things you can engage in than hiking against the beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Some of the more popular trails for beginners is the Grotto Trail, and the Scenic and Overlook Trails Loop. If you have a little more experience, you might want to try your hand at the Mugu Peak Trail.

16. King Gillette Ranch

King Gillette Ranch
Source: Flickr / LA Mountains | CC BY 2.0

One of the most scenic locations along the Santa Monica Mountains, the King Gillette Ranch provides an unspoiled peek into California’s rich archeological, cultural, and historic resources. Some of the staples at the ranch include a Chumash settlement as well as a number of historically significant structures commissioned for King C. Gillette (yes that Gillette).

A moderately steep hike from the parking lot will lead to Inspiration Point that will give you a panoramic view of the surroundings. The secluded geography of the region has led to some of the most unique wildlife ranging from large mammals to raptors and other birds roaming along with the ranch.

17. Malibu Hindu Temple

Malibu Hindu Temple
Source: Flickr / Clinton Steeds | CC BY 2.0

Built in 1981, this temple of the Hindu God Venkateswara located in the Santa Monica Mountains is a staple of the followers of Hinduism in Southern California. The traditional Hindu Temple brings a part of their culture to the approximately 70,000 strong Indian diaspora in Los Angeles County.

The temple offers normal services as well as traditional Pooja services that range from an Aarathi to a Hiranya Sadham. There is also a rich set of programming held at the temple to hold traditional celebrations such as the Ugadi celebrations. In addition to being a place of worship for Hindus, the temple serves to introduce Hindi culture and tradition to Southern California.

18. Paradise Cove Beach

Paradise Cove Beach
Source: Flickr / David Jones | CC BY 2.0

You can be forgiven for momentarily thinking that you are in Hawaii as you make yourself through this idyllic beach. The beach lives up to its lofty name and is the scene of countless Hollywood movies and TV series.

The Paradise Cove Café is a trendy establishment adjoining the beach and is an incredible place to grab a quick bite to eat while taking in the beautiful scenery. Otherwise, the beach is an ideal place for long walks as you bask at the majesty of the Malibu mansions as you head east. Heading west, you will come across sandstone cliffs and the Little Dume Beach.

19. Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carrillo State Beach
Source: Flickr / Connar L’Ecuyer | Public Domain

Named after Leo Carrilo’s contributions to the California Beach and Park’s Commission, this beach runs along 1.5 miles of coastline. The beach offers perfect opportunities for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing, and beachcombing.

There are also fascinating tidepools, coastal caves, and reefs that you can explore. There is no wonder it is considered one of the best beaches along the Santa Monica mountains. When you consider the range of activities at this beach and the park of the same name, this is one of the best places to escape the busy life of Malibu. If you are making your way from Malibu, you will also want to stop by at the El Matador Beach on your way.

20. Malibu Creek Rock Pools

Malibu Creek Rock Pools
Source: Flickr / Connar L’Ecuyer | Public Domain

The Rock Pools at the Malibu Creek State Park is extremely popular among tourists and locals alike. It will take a 3-mile round trip hike but the secluded pools in the middle of rock formations will surely take your breath away.

One of the trails you can take to the Rock Pools is the Grassland Trail that will take you along sights where iconic scenes from the M*A*S*H television series and Planet of the Apes were shot. Once you do make your way to the Rock Pools, please adhere to the warnings to not jump or dive into the pools as it is may cause you significant harm.

21. Malibu Bluffs Park

Malibu Bluffs Park
Source: Flickr / Ken Lund | CC BY-SA 2.0

Bluffs Park is one of the main community parks in Malibu and is conveniently located at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and the Malibu Canyon Road. The park overlooking the ocean boasts two baseball diamonds and a soccer field in addition to a children’s playground.

One of the main staples of the park is the Michael Landon Community Center that offers various programming ranging from classes, sports competitions, and events. If you are looking to host an event, a picnic, or a sports contest, there are few better spots in the area than the Michael Landon Community Center and Bluffs Park.

22. Parker Mesa Overlook

Parker Mesa Overlook
Source: Flickr / daveynin | CC BY 2.0

Located on the west side of Topanga State Park, the Parker Mesa Overlook offers an amazing panoramic view of Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. However, like all good things in life, you will have to do some hiking in order to get to the overlook.

There are a variety of hiking options you can take that range from 5.7-mile to over 10-mile round-trip trails. As you make yourself through the trails, you will come across some of the most fascinating flowers and vegetation. While the trails are lengthy, knowing the amazing scenery that awaits you at the overlook will surely push you to overcome your fatigue.

23. Charmlee Wilderness Park

Charmlee Wilderness Park
Source: Flickr / claumoho | CC BY 2.0

This 532-acre park offers some of the most unique and fascinating scenery along the Santa Monica Mountain Range. You can find some amazing picnic areas for you to take in the beauty of the native plants around you. You can delve further into the history of those native plants at the Nature Center.

Moreover, the park offers 8-miles of the most amazing hiking trails you can find in the region. The interwoven manner of the trails means that you can build your own trails of 2 to 4 miles that are suitable for your experience. If you are ever at the park, the Ranch House Ruins and Ocean Overlook are must-visit sites.

24. Malibu Wine Hikes

Malibu Wine Hikes
Source: Unsplash / Kym Ellis

Remember when we told you that you could opt for wine hikes if the wine safari doesn’t appeal to you? Well, the 2-mile hike lets you take your wines to-go and explore the Saddlerock Ranch, organic gardens, Chumash Native American Paintings, and other fascinating sights.

If you are planning a hike for a group of family and friends, you may want to book a private hike that will elevate your experience to a whole new level. Moreover, there are also some great exclusive tours that are periodically offered such as Valentine’s tours for couples.

25. Duke’s Malibu

Dukes Malibu
Source: Unsplash / Denise van der Heide

This chain restaurant was opened in honor of Duke Kahanakonu, an Olympic swimming legend. He is also considered to be the father of modern-day surfing so it is only right that the restaurants in this chain are located at spectacular waterfront sites.

The Malibu chain of the restaurant doesn’t disappoint and offers vibrant, trendy dishes that are locally sourced wherever possible. Taking inspiration from Duke’s home state of Hawaii, the restaurant offers its take on Hawaiian dishes such as Huli Huli Chicken and Ahi Poke while also offering more traditional surf and turf meals. Make sure you try the Kimo’s Original Hula Pie when you are there as well.