Malibu enjoys a near-mythical status as the “Shangri-La on the Pacific,” thanks to its large celebrity population, the incredible beauty of its shoreline, and its legendary surfing beaches. Stretched out for 27 miles/62 kilometers, Malibu is a place with no discernible center, inhabited by very wealthy people, and yet not as glamorous as one might expect.
Despite its wealth and star quotient, the best way to appreciate Malibu is through its natural assets, so grab your sunscreen and a towel and head to the beach. Point Dume and Zuma are especially nice and teem with sunbathers on summer weekends. Or take a stroll along the vintage Malibu Pier, where you can browse the shops or watch surfers hook gnarly waves on Surfrider Beach, one of the world’s most famous surf spots.
During the cooler months, hit the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for some peace away from crowds. Or bring your binoculars and a picnic basket to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, a favorite spot for migratory birds.
Malibu lies west of Hollywood, along the Pacific Coast Highway. You may strike gold and find free parking along the highway, but otherwise you’ll find plenty of parking lots. If you’re exploring the Santa Monica Mountains, a free shuttle will take you there, as well as make stops at Zuma and Pointe Dume beaches and major trailheads.