27 Best Things to do in Malibu (In 2023)
👉 Jump to: Things to Do | Wildlife & Adventure Tours | Beaches | Hiking & Parks | Shopping & Dining | Museums & Culture | FAQs
This seaside hamlet may be home to ‘Billionaire’s Beach,’ but you don’t have to spend like a celeb to enjoy the best things to do in Malibu, California!
As a Los Angeles local, Malibu is close enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Most of my favorite activities, like lounging on Zuma Beach or hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, cost only a parking fee. This guide will cover plenty of those and some opulent Malibu options I’ve had the good fortune to experience.
Looking to check out more than one fabulous beach destination? Check out the best things to do in Santa Monica, just 30 minutes south of Malibu, CA.
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27 Best Things to Do in Malibu
El Matador Beach
Drink in sensational scenery on one of the most photographed beaches in Malibu, CA
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (818) 880-0363 | Website | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lots open 8 am – sunset | 👉 Browse Malibu Tours
Rolling waves crash over striking rock formations on this quintessential Malibu beach, filling the air with the sparkle of sea spray. Photographers aren’t alone in swooning over El Matador – the romantic backdrop is a stunning setting for proposals.
El Matador beach is the most popular of three pocket beaches that make up Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. The small parking area fills up early, but you can find similarly spectacular surroundings at adjacent beaches La Piedra and El Pescador.
🚗 How to Get There: With 21 miles of scenic beauty to explore, having a car is a must when visiting Malibu. Check out our partner Discover Cars for great deals on rentals.
Roam the grounds of a mountainside villa filled with Roman antiquities
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 440-7300 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, closed Tuesdays | Entrance: Free | 🅿️ Parking: $20
A recreation of a 2,000-year-old Roman villa, Getty Villa immerses guests in a world of ancient luxury. Strolling alongside the reflecting pool and amongst statuary in manicured gardens provides a unique window into a world long-since buried by Vesuvius.
An impressive permanent collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities are complemented by fascinating rotating exhibits.
Getty Villa is located ½ mile south of Malibu in Pacific Palisades, an affluent neighborhood between Malibu and Santa Monica. Follow up your museum visit with nearby Topanga Beach and dinner at Reel Inn, a no-frills local favorite for fresh fish.
👉 Love Getty Villa? Don’t miss the Getty Center! Read more about this exceptional destination in my guide on the 55 best things to do in Los Angeles.
Lounge on a private chaise with an icy tropical beverage
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 457-2503 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 9 pm daily | 🍽️ Seafood | $$ – $$$
The sandy beach and good eats at Paradise Cove have been beloved Malibu treasures since the days of Gidget and Marilyn Monroe, two stars famously photographed during visits here.
You’ll have to splash out some coin for private beach rentals, but even the smallest option has space for 6 guests. The cafe serves bountiful portions of fresh seafood at mid-range prices (for Malibu.) Plus they credit the parking fee to your tab, a perk you won’t find elsewhere.
🏖️ Pro Tip: Visitors on a budget can still enjoy Paradise Cove. Bordered by a wooden pier and tide pool, the beach and restrooms are open to the public, free of charge.
Play and relax on a classic California beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lots 6 am – 10 pm
One of the most popular things to do in Malibu, California, Zuma Beach is an enormous seaside paradise with lots of amenities and golden sand.
Picnic tables, volleyball nets, and lots of parking are advantages that make this a great spot for families and group get-togethers. Swimming and bodysurfing are common, but you’ll want to be careful. The water is a bit chilly, with known riptides and rough surf.
Just south, Westward Beach tends to be a bit quieter. Though part of Point Dume State Beach, Westward Beach is currently managed by Los Angeles County. Northward the sandy expanse of Zuma gives way to the rocky shore and sea caves of Meyer Memorial State Beach.
Zuma Beach gets crowded, especially in summer, so stake out space near the shore early.
Leo Carrillo State Park
Journey into the raw beauty of Malibu’s wild west end
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 457-8143 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 10 pm, daily | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lots
At the border between Los Angeles and Ventura counties, you’ll find Leo Carrillo State Park, an unblemished (and dog-friendly) haven of Pacific Coast wilderness.
Nature-loving beachcombers find many a treasure in the area’s tide pools and coastal caves. Divers reefs teeming with fish and octopuses.
To the east of the Pacific Coast Highway, scenic trails crisscross the Santa Monica Mountains. Campgrounds near the beach offer RV hookups and showers. For those looking to get further away from it all, more primitive camping areas are available deeper into the park.
Surfrider Beach (Malibu Lagoon State Beach)
Catch a wave on one of the US mainland’s most famous surf breaks
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 488-1827 | Website | Hours: 8 am – sunset daily | 🅿️ Parking: $3 p/hour – $12 p/day | 👉 Malibu Beach Surf Tour in a Vintage VW Van
A go-to California surf spot since the 1940s, Surfrider Beach is an ideal location to check out Malibu waves. You’ll want to have some experience to paddle out, but chill vibes on the sand are enjoyed by all.
Adjacent to Adamson House and the Malibu Pier, Malibu Lagoon State Beach is reached via a raised wooden walkway around the lagoon. Part of Malibu Lagoon State Park, the beach is thriving with plant and animal life.
One of the most fun, offbeat tourist attractions in Malibu, California is the grunion run when thousands of silver fish surge into the lagoon from the Pacific Ocean.
🏄 Need a Hotel? Double your fun at The Surfrider Malibu, just a five-minute walk from Surfrider Beach.
An idyllic pier with two excellent restaurants and views up and down the Malibu, CA coast
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (888) 310-7437 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 9 pm daily | 👉 Stand up Paddle Board in Malibu
Malibu Pier is peaceful and charming, a lovely spot for couples or friends to enjoy a casual stroll. Browse unique accessories in Miansai, a tiny shop housed in a 1949 Airstream.
In the iconic white towers at either end of the pier, you’ll find restaurants Malibu Farm and Malibu Farm Cafe, serving fresh, farm-to-table food. At the end of the pier, a ranch shop sports a variety of gifts and a full complement of fishing rentals.
Pier restaurants are ideal meal stops for visitors of Malibu Lagoon State Beach or Adamson House.
Malibu Creek State Park
Hike through 8,000 acres of wilderness featuring scenic vistas and famous locations from film & television history
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 488-1827 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 10 pm daily | 🅿️ Parking: $3 p/hour – $12 p/day | ⛺ Camping fees: $45 p/day + $7.99 reservation fee
A jewel of the Santa Monica Mountain range, Malibu Creek State Park is an awesome destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
The majority of the park’s hiking trails extend from the Paramount Ranch area, where you can see the chapel from HBO’s Westworld. One trail goes through the setting for the iconic intro of TV hit M*A*S*H*. A popular photo spot features an ambulance used by the production.
Campgrounds in Malibu Creek State Park are an inviting option for travelers looking to visit Malibu, California, on a budget. To reserve a campsite visit reserveCalifornia.com.
🚙 Mini road trip! Check out the Malibu, CA countryside via this scenic canyon drive. Make the most of Southern California’s balmy weather by renting a convertible through Discover Cars and cruise with the top down!
Crashing surf accompanies fine food & drink at this award-winning restaurant
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 456-3010 | Website | Hours: 11:30 am – 10 pm Monday through Thursday, 11:30 am – 11 pm Friday, 11 am – 11 pm Saturday, 11 am – 10 am Sunday | 🍽️ TBD | $$ – $$$
A favorite of those ‘in the know,’ Mooonshadows is an atmospheric, vibey bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio perched over a Malibu beach. Signature seafood dishes feature flavors influenced by international cuisine.
It’s not always easy to score a table on the patio, but even from bar seating, you’ll get mesmerizing views of Pacific Ocean waves rolling to shore.
If you’re up for splurging on the meal but want to save where possible, skip the valet and take advantage of free parking along Pacific Coast Highway.
Malibu Country Mart
Take home a piece of Malibu’s signature casual elegance from this bright, airy collection of shops
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 826-5636 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 10 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am – 11 pm Friday & Saturday
One of the most popular shopping areas among Malibu locals, Malibu Country Mart is an ideal spot to add a bit of Malibu’s casual elegance to your home decor or wardrobe.
Located on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway less than a mile north of the Malibu pier, the center offers 60+ shops and restaurants. Malibu Colony Co.’s home goods wonderfully complement the artisan tiles available at Adamson House.
To get a taste of world-class Malibu wines without venturing away from the coast, check out Strange Family Vineyards. Tastings on the outdoor patio are family and dog friendly.
Wildlife & Adventure Tours
Paraglide over Carbon Beach
Get a birds’ eye view of the Pacific Ocean coast on a high-flying Malibu adventure tour
📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Tandem Paragliding flight with Instructor in Malibu
Of all the top Malibu tours, this glide down the beautiful Malibu coastline is the one tailor-made for thrill-seekers, an unforgettable experience for visitors and locals alike. Any nerves about your flight are quelled by expert instructors and stringent safety practices.
Carbon Beach, a.k.a. ‘Billionaire’s Beach,’ is known for having some of the most expensive real estate in southern California. To get a taste of the luxe life book a stay at ritzy beach hotel Malibu Beach Inn.
Malibu Coastal Adventures
Seek out sea lions, dolphins, and whales on custom, interactive boat trips
📍 Multiple Locations | Phone: (310) 701-1996 | Website
When you’re dreaming of an ocean excursion, Malibu Coastal Adventures is who you call to make it happen. Channel Islands whale watching and spotting sea lions around Santa Cruz Island? They do that. Scouting sea caves on paddleboards and snorkeling in a Pacific Coast kelp forest? You got it.
For those who prefer to stay closer to shore, Malibu Coastal Adventures offers tailor-made paddleboarding, surfing, and kitesurfing lessons on Malibu beaches.
🐋 Love Whales? Some of the best whale-watching spots in Southern California are just a few hours south of Malibu, CA, in San Diego.
Scuba Diving in Malibu, CA
Explore underwater wonderlands along the Pacific Coast
📍 Multiple Locations
Few if any fun things to do in Malibu go more in-depth than scuba diving! Known as ‘the Slot,’ areas between Corral Beach and Paradise Cove feature kelp forests in a low reef along the coast.
A good option for scuba and skin diving beginners is Topanga Beach, just one mile north of the Getty Villa on Pacific Coast Highway. Malibu Divers and Eco Dive Center offer tours, lessons, and certification courses.
Corral Beach is popular for diving, but be careful of submerged rocks. Entry is easier if you go west of the creek bed (zoom in on the marker to see the creek location.)
Point Dume State Beach and Point Dume Nature Preserve
Hike high bluffs to spectacular ocean views on the northernmost point of Santa Monica Bay
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 457-8143 | Website | Hours: Sunrise to sunset | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lots
When you’re looking to split the difference between smooth, groomed sand and shoreline wilderness, Point Dume State Beach is a Malibu, CA spot where you’ll find the best of both worlds.
Overlooks in Point Dume Nature Preserve are ideal to spot dolphins, sea lions, or migrating California gray whales. On a clear day, you can see all way from Leo Carrillo State Park to Catalina Island.
Point Dume State Beach is divided into two beaches. The Point Dume beach furthest south is cliffside Little Dume, popular with surfers. The staircase to Big Dume Beach is currently closed for renovation. (It’s possible to walk around the point at low tide, but the route is rocky and risky.)
⚓ Pro Tip: One of the best ‘secret spots’ in Malibu is Pirate’s Cove, reached by hiking over the rocks at the south end of Westward Beach.
Get a peek at a beach beloved by Malibu locals
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: Not easy | 👉 Malibu Photoshoot with Professional Photographer
Though it’s not the easiest Malibu beach to access, those who make the effort to reach Escondido Beach will be rewarded with a gorgeous stretch of sand, free of crowds.
There are two public access points to Escondido, marked by brown and white Coastal Access signs. The simplest path is from the Escondido Creek bridge entry, but parking is next to impossible.
You’re more likely to find parking spots at the access point north of Geoffrey’s restaurant. If you’re up for splashing out on a gourmet meal, Geoffrey’s valet will usually let you leave your car long enough to check out the beach.
👉 Pro Tip: There’s an unlisted access point. On foot, go through Geoffrey’s driveway & parking area to a path just to the right of the restaurant. A long flight of stairs will take you to Escondido Beach Road, and another flight straight across the road leads to the beach.
Nicholas Canyon Beach
Unwind on a quiet curve of sand capped by a perfect point break
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 6:30 am – 8 pm, daily | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lot | 👉 Surf Lessons in Malibu
A low-key beauty, Nicholas Canyon Beach is surrounded by red-brown cliffs dotted with hardy desert shrubs and wildflower blooms. Surfers crowd the water when the waves are good, but you’ll have plenty of space to spread out on the sand.
It’s a lovely location for a family picnic, with a good amount of parking and basic facilities. No food stands or rental shops, but quite a few stairs. Make sure to pack everything you need compactly, like you can with this all-in-one picnic backpack.
👉 Pro Tip: Make time to see the Wishtoyo Chumash Village, adjacent to Nicholas Canyon Beach.
Hiking & Parks in Malibu
Point Mugu State Park
Explore iconic Southern California landscapes, from coastal sand dunes to the Santa Monica Mountains
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 457-8143 | Website | 🅿️ Parking: 8 am to sunset, $3 p/hour – $12 p/day | ⛺ Camping fees: $35 – $45 p/day
When you’re looking to embrace the great outdoors, this Malibu, California destination has it all. Whether you fancy chilling on Mugu Beach or bouldering in the Boney Mountains, you’ll find endless adventures in the 15,000-acre wilderness of Point Mugu State Park.
Near the coast and campgrounds, the Sycamore Canyon trail takes you 2.7 miles uphill to breathtaking ocean viewpoints. Bring your binoculars for whale watching!
Another relatively easy trek is the 2.5-mile Grotto Trail in Circle X Ranch, which follows a creek to a curve of eerily beautiful caves. Advanced hikers can tackle more challenging Circle X climbs, including Sandstone Peak, the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
⛺ Pro Tip: If you fancy an RV adventure in Malibu, CA, Camping Adventures will deliver a trailer to Point Mugu and have it ready for your arrival.
Solstice Canyon – The Roberts House, Keller House
Traipse through sage scrub to a small waterfall and stone cabin ruins
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (805) 370-2301 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 9 pm daily | 👉 Scenic Malibu Electric Mountain Biking Experience
Near the beach, Solstice Canyon is one of the most popular hiking areas in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, CA. Nature lovers find much inspiration in the plant and animal life now flourishing in the wake of wildfires.
A small waterfall and the ruins of two historic homes – the Roberts House and the Keller House – are some of the area’s top attractions. All three are found along the Solstice Canyon Loop.
🐕 Doggos welcome! Solstice Canyon is one of the best things to do in Malibu with your four-footed family. Leashed dogs are welcome on the hiking trails in this part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Hike past affluent homes to scenic overlooks and a 50-foot waterfall fed by rainfall
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (323) 221-9944 | Website | 🅿️ Parking: Winding Way lot, $12 | 👉 Malibu Waterfall Electric Mountain Bike & Hiking Adventure
When you luck out and catch a rare rainy day, take full advantage by venturing out to Escondido Falls. The moss-covered wall is a tad anti-climactic on dry days, but rainfall makes this easy 3.7-mile hike into the Santa Monica Mountains well worth the effort.
You’ll find less weather-dependent Malibu, CA sights in nearby Solstice Canyon. The dry heat dehydrates people and waterfalls alike, so make sure to bring a water bottle.
Upper Escondido Falls is on private property, and the route can be slippery and dangerous. Hikers are discouraged from proceeding past Lower Escondido Falls.
Malibu Bluffs Park
A spacious, green park with play areas, walking paths, and lookouts over the Malibu coast
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 317-1364 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 7:30 pm daily | 🅿️ Parking: Self-pay lots range from $2 p/hr to $20 p/day
Malibu Bluffs Park is one of the best free things to do in Malibu with the whole family. You’ll find picnic areas, playgrounds for the kiddos, and free public WiFi. Baseball/softball diamonds and a soccer field offer play space for all ages.
The park is located just across Pacific Coast Highway from Pepperdine University, ideal when you’re bringing along younger siblings to visit students.
🛎️ Need a hotel? Hotels in Malibu, CA get pricey, so if you’re looking for a less expensive option consider Cambria Hotel Calabasas in the San Fernando Valley, just a scenic 20-minute drive from Malibu Bluffs.
Shopping & Dining
Vineyard Tours & Wine Tasting
Sip in style on excursions to rustic hillside wine barns and oceanfront tasting rooms
📍 Multiple Locations | 👉 Browse Malibu Wine Tours
Malibu wine country may not have Napa’s clout, but vineyards here produce plenty of tasty vino.
Wineries are spread throughout the Malibu foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. You’re best off utilizing a tour to visit a few spots in one go. Retro VW van tours and small-group vineyard excursions are two options that include some of the best tasing rooms.
Malibu Family Wines’ famous safaris are on an extended hiatus, but you can check out the beautiful Saddlerock Ranch on a wine hike tour, which includes a take-home bottle of wine for guests 21 and over.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club features luxury accommodations, a private beach club exclusively for guests, and fantastic food & service at the onsite restaurant, Malibu Cafe.
Trancas Country Mart
Gather high-quality provisions in a low-key chic shopping area
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (818) 817-0550 | Website | Hours: 6:30 am – 9 pm daily
With weathered barn styling backdropped by the Santa Monica Mountains, shopping in Trancas Country Mart is like picking up your groceries in a postcard. Whether browsing boutiques or picking out produce, you’ll find top-quality goods highlighting the Malibu community.
Trancas Country Mart is further west/northwest than most other shopping & dining type things to do in Malibu, California. It’s a great spot to grab supplies for a picnic on Zuma or El Matador, and is the shopping area closest to campgrounds at Point Dume State Beaches and Leo Carrillo State Park.
Dine on delish fish at a local favorite restaurant owned & operated by fishermen
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 456-3430 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 7 pm daily | 🍽️ Seafood | $$
At Malibu Seafood, it’s all in the name. Fresh fish and shellfish, fried or grilled, with all the fixins’. Simple and delicious. The market counter sells a variety of fruit de mare to cook at home.
Conveniently located near Solstice Canyon, a basket of fish & chips from Malibu Seafood is a particularly enjoyable treat after weekday hikes. On weekends, you may want to conserve energy for standing in line.
🏖️ Pro Tip: Weekday lunch tends to be the least busy time, but if you brave the dinner rush, Corral State Beach, across the street, is a lovely spot to enjoy the sunset.
Fill up on Southern California comfort food at a lively bar and restaurant
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 457-3095 | Website | Hours: 10:30 am – 7 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am – 8 pm Fridays, 10 am – 8:30 pm Saturdays & Sundays (Nov – May closes at 7 pm, 8 pm on Fridays) | 🍽️ Seafood | $$
A historic restaurant featured in blockbuster franchises Fast and Furious and Ironman, Neptune’s Net serves up hearty helpings of American favorites with a side of biker bar vibes.
The seating policy is strictly first-come, first-serve, so be prepared to wait a while, especially on weekends.
Across Pacific Coast Highway from County Line Beach, Neptune’s Net is just over the Ventura County line from Malibu, CA. It’s great after a day of hiking in Point Mugu State Park, and the closest restaurant to campgrounds in Leo Carrillo State Park.
🍽️ Prefer fine dining? Nobu Malibu is one of the most prestigious restaurants in southern California, specializing in exquisite sushi and Japanese cuisine. It’s not an easy place to get a table, so make your reservations at Nobu Malibu well in advance.
Museums & Culture
For more, see my guide to the 23 top museums in LA.
Adamson House & Malibu Lagoon Museum
Delve into Malibu’s past in a California Historic Landmark
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 456-8432 | Website | Hours: 8 am – sunset, daily | Entrance: $7 adults, $2 ages 6-17, Free for kids 5 & under
Adamson House is one of the most interesting, budget-friendly things to do in Malibu, CA. In addition to the home’s original furnishings, the site displays an array of tiles made by acclaimed Malibu Potteries.
One fascinating aspect of visits to this attraction is how the collection of artifacts in the Malibu Lagoon Museum weaves the tale of Malibu history, from the native Chumash through Spanish California.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Just one mile south of the Adamson House and Malibu Pier, centrally located boutique hotel The M Malibu makes a great base for Malibu vacations.
Malibu Hindu Temple
Pause for reflection and wonder at elaborate architecture at a tranquil temple
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (818) 880-5552 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Saturday & Sunday
Spiritual seekers are invited to experience wonder at the Malibu Hindu Temple. Set along a quiet lane and screened by trees, the serene grounds feel a world apart from hectic modern life.
Visitors with an interest in architecture are sure to be wowed by the temple’s ornate Dravidian style. All visitors are welcome, but in respect of Hindu culture guests will be asked to follow a few simple rules.
Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University
Rove the halls of a free museum focused on the art of California
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (310) 506-4851 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays | Entrance: Free
Exhibiting historical and contemporary pieces by well-known artists, this Malibu, CA museum is an interesting, free activity that won’t eat up a lot of your day.
On hot days, it’s a nice respite from the sun in between beaches. Plus it’s a good way to check out the beautiful grounds of distinguished Pepperdine University.
🎨 Love Art? You’ll find a multitude of fantastic museums & cultural attractions in nearby Los Angeles.
FAQs About What to Do in Malibu
How do I spend a day in Malibu?
For beach lovers, the best way to spend a day in Malibu is Zuma Beach or Westward Beach. Hikers and nature enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Malibu Creek State Park.
Does Malibu have a downtown?
Malibu doesn’t have a dedicated downtown area, but Malibu Civic Center is just north of the Malibu Pier. You’ll find great restaurants and two shopping malls in this stylishly rustic district, including the popular Malibu Country Mart.
What is the best time to visit Malibu?
The best time to visit Malibu, California is April through July. You’ll still get beach-ready weather through late summer and early fall, but wildfire season can disrupt travel plans.
What three things is Malibu famous for?
Malibu is famous for its beautiful beaches, spectacular hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, and ultra-luxurious homes.
That’s about it for this one. I hope you have a blast checking out these 27 fun things to do in Malibu, California! Curious about other Los Angeles area hotspots? Check out the 23 Best Things to Do in Hollywood.
Have fun finding the coolest things to do in Malibu!
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