The Best Things to do in Malibu, California

The 15 Best Things to do in Malibu, California

With its “21 miles of scenic beauty” and its close proximity to LA, Malibu has long been a playground for Hollywood’s rich and famous. This coastal California city is best known for the famous residents that reside on Carbon Beach (aka “Billionaire’s Beach”) and its world-class surf spots, including Surfrider Beach.

But you don’t have to be a celebrity or a surfer to have a great time in Malibu. Delve a little deeper, and you’ll find that Malibu is bursting with cool things to do, no matter your interests. You can spend your days hiking to hidden waterfalls or going wine tasting in the Santa Monica Mountains before dining at one of Malibu’s many oceanfront restaurants in the evening. 

With so many cool things to see, do, and eat, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Malibu for you. Stick to these fun and unique Malibu bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this famous seaside city!

The Top 15 Things to do in Malibu, CA

1. Shop and Dine Like a Local at Malibu Country Mart

Best Things to do in Malibu, California: Malibu Country Mart

If you’re looking for quintessential Malibu activities, you’ll definitely want to stop by the Malibu Country Mart. Equally as popular among local surfers and celebrities as it is with out-of-towners, this massive outdoor lifestyle center is home to upscale boutiques, art galleries, wellness businesses, gardens and picnic spots, and plenty of eateries. 

If it’s wellness you’re after, you can do downward dog at 5 Point Yoga or get a vitamin-infused IV infusion at Nenergy Boost. Or, if you prefer to shop till you drop, give your wardrobe a makeover at shops like Double RL & Co., John Varvatos, and Madison

Malibu Country Mart is also home to some of Malibu’s best restaurants. Come hungry, so you can sample Italian comfort food Tra di Noi, nosh on Greek eats at Taverna Tony, sip healthy smoothies at SunLife Organics, and so much more. Don’t miss out on even more shopping and dining at the adjacent Malibu Lumber Yard and Malibu Village!

If you’re looking for free things to do in Malibu, Malibu Country Mart is also just a great place to bring your dogs, lay down a blanket, and have a picnic lunch or catch up with a good book.


2. Go Wine Tasting at Malibu’s Best Tasting Rooms

Cool Things to do in Malibu, California: Wine and Tasting at Malibu Best Tasting Rooms

This might come as a surprise to some, but Malibu is home to quite a few excellent wineries and tasting rooms. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Malibu, going winery hopping is always a good idea! You can either do a self-guided tour or sign up for one of the many Malibu wine tours if you prefer someone else does the driving. 

If you happen to be in town during the weekend, Rosenthal Wine Bar and Patio boasts beautiful sea views and hosts a variety of food trucks and live music on Saturdays and Sundays (21+ only). Another one of the most popular wineries in Malibu is Cielo Farms Malibu, which features a Tuscan-style estate and stunning mountain views around every turn. But if you prefer to stay in town, Summer Somewhere Wines has a tasting room in Malibu Village.

Located further afield in Lompoc, you can also sip some acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Strange Family Vineyards. (They also have a tasting room at Malibu Lumber Yard, so you don’t have to make the journey into the Santa Rita Hills!).

Brought to you by Malibu Wines Tasting Room, Malibu Wines & Beer Garden in nearby West Hills is a popular spot to sip Semler and Saddlerock wines while grazing on wood-fired pizzas and charcuterie boards.


3. Take a Hike to Escondido Falls 

Unique Things to do in Malibu, California: Escondido Falls

The hike to Escondido Falls is one of the coolest things to do in Malibu if you’re looking for some outdoor adventure. Cascading down 150 feet of limestone rocks, Escondido Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains and a must on any Malibu bucket list.

Starting from the parking lot at Winding Road and PCH, the 4-mile round-trip hike begins with a stroll on an asphalt road, which takes you past some stunning mansions. Once you reach the trailhead for the Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls, you’ll meander along the tree-shaded trail, past small rivers and beautiful trees.

The first tier of the falls is relatively easy to reach, but if you want to continue on to see the main falls, make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes and exercise caution, as the trail can get rocky, slippery, and steep. The narrow ledges might deter some hikers!

If you do manage to make it all the way to the top, it will be worth it to take in the views of this gorgeous cascade. It’s best to visit Escondido Falls during the rainy months, as the falls can dry up in the dry summer months.


4. Go Rock Climbing in Point Dume

Must do things in Malibu, California: Point Dume

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping Malibu activities, why not try your hand at rock climbing? Don’t worry if you don’t have your own gear or are a total novice. It’s possible to join this 4-hour, small group lesson, so you can learn the ropes from a professional rock climber. 

The cliffs at Point Dume are not only popular among climbers, but they offer stunning views of Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. During the lesson, you’ll learn all about rappelling, climbing techniques, and safety as you scale the cliffs.

If climbing sounds a bit too much to you, Point Dume is still well worth a visit. You can even follow a trail to the top of the cliffs to get the same panoramic ocean views as the climbers. In spring, you might even be rewarded with fields of wildflowers. And if you’re visiting between January and April, keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales!


5. Take a Stroll along the Historic Malibu Pier

What to do in Malibu, California: Malibu Pier

A stroll along the iconic Malibu Pier is a must on any Malibu bucket list. Built in 1905, this historic pier has long been a hub for everyone from fishermen and tourists to celebrities and surfers.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the pier is still a popular place for fishing. Visit in the summer months, and you can try to reel in your own halibut or mackerel. You can grab everything you need, including rods and bait, at Ranch at the Pier. Or, if you prefer to get out on the water, you can join in on a whale-watching excursion or a cruise on the 50-foot Malibu Waverider boat, which departs from the Malibu Pier.

Once you work up an appetite, dine on the patio of the popular Malibu Farm Restaurant & Bar while overlooking the ocean and pier. Better yet, take a seat at the Malibu Farm Cafe. Located at the end of the pier, this is the place to enjoy locally-sourced eats while watching the surfers and dolphins do their thing!


6. Sip and Socialize at Malibu Wines & Beer Garden 

Best Things to do in Malibu, California: Malibu Wines and Beer Garden

Malibu Wines & Beer Garden is the latest concept by Malibu Wines. While their popular Malibu tasting room burned down in the Woolsey Fire, you can still enjoy the same ambiance in the tree-shaded Malibu Wines & Beer Garden in West Hills, 30 minutes inland from Malibu.

This 21+ venue is very popular among locals on the weekends. If you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe, things tend to be less crowded on the weekdays. 

No matter when you visit, you can sip Semler and Saddlerock wines and local and regional craft brews. If you’re feeling peckish, order up a wood-fired pizza, a charcuterie board, or a salad from Topanga Grain Co. You can also feel free to bring your own picnic supplies or get your favorite food delivered to the venue!

Again, this is a popular spot for everything from birthdays to bachelorette parties, so we highly recommend making reservations in advance.


7. Marvel at Mediterranean Antiquities at the Getty Villa

Fun Things to do in Malibu, California: Getty Villa

If you’re looking for free and unique things to do in Malibu, make your way to the spectacular Getty Villa. You’ll find this gem tucked away in Pacific Palisades, between Eastern Malibu and Santa Monica. Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but you do have to make a timed-entry reservation in advance. 

The Getty Villa got its start as the project of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who built this ancient-Roman-style villa to showcase the arts and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. Take a look around, and you’ll find thousands of artifacts spanning 4,000 years, from 6,500 BC to 500 AD. From a Roman-era mummy to porcelain vases from Versailles, there’s a surprise around every turn.

Don’t forget to leave some time to explore the exterior gardens, courtyards, and reflecting pool. If you need a break, you can arrange to have afternoon tea in the garden or simply take a seat at the on-site cafe, which serves up excellent Mediterranean-inspired dishes.


8. Go Wine Tasting at The Barn at Cielo Winery

Best Things to do in Malibu, California: Wine and Tasting at the Barn at Cielo Winery

When it comes to cool things to do in Malibu, a trip to The Barn at Cielo Winery easily tops the list. You’ll find this spectacular winery hidden away deep in the Santa Monica Mountains high above Malibu.

The Barn at Cielo Winery is 21+ and by reservation only, so make sure you sign up for a coveted spot on the website before making the journey here. You’ll see what all the fuss is about the second you arrive at this 35-acre Tuscan-inspired estate! Trust us, you’ll never get sick of taking in the panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains while being surrounded by grapevines and olive trees.

Head over to The Barn Tasting Room, where you can sip and socialize while taking in the truly stunning mountain views. The menu features everything from a Purple Haze Syrah to a White Rabbit Chardonnay to a Cielo Estate Rosé. If you’d like to sample more than one wine, you can choose from a variety of flights, too.

You’ll probably want to order a European or Vegetarian Board for the table. The restaurant also serves up excellent wood-fired pizzas from Thursday to Sunday!


9. Live Like a Celebrity on Malibu’s ‘Billionaire’s Beach’

Malibu, California Bucket List: Carbon Beach

A visit to Carbon Beach (aka Billionaire’s Beach) is a must on anyone’s Malibu bucket list. This one-mile stretch of sand is lined with roughly 70 multi-million dollar homes, many of which are owned by the rich, famous, and uber-wealthy. Past residents have included Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Courteney Cox, Dr. Dre, and David Geffen.

Billionaire’s Beach used to be closed off to the public, but the courts finally mandated that the beach’s residents allow access to the public in 2015. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Malibu, track down one of the two public access points and take a stroll along Carbon Beach – which is the literal backyard of celebrities!

Must do things in Malibu, California: Carbon Beach

You’ll spot homes that sell for anywhere from $25-110 million, though remember to always keep your distance from the homes. If you really want to live like a celebrity for the day, stop off for dinner and drinks at nearby Nobu!


10. Take in Pacific Views from the Solstice Canyon Loop Trail

Cool Things to do in Malibu, California: Solstice Canyon Loop Trail
Images courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area

If you’re looking for outdoor Malibu activities, you’ll be pleased to know that this coastal California city offers tons of hiking opportunities. The 3.2-mile Solstice Canyon Loop Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Malibu – and for good reason!

This moderate hike leads you to a few interesting ruins you’ll definitely want to check out. One of the coolest things you’ll pass is the ruins of the 1952 Roberts House Ranch. 

The Polynesian-style home was once featured in Architectural Digest and later burned down in 1982. There’s also a waterfall and a few lovely pools just past the ruins. After that, you’ll make your way to the top of the canyon, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. 

For the best ocean views, it’s best to take the clockwise route, which is steeper but well worth it for the views. The hike should take roughly 1.5 hours to complete.


11. Mix and Mingle at The Malibu Cafe

Not to be confused with the Malibu Farm Cafe or the Malibu Farm Restaurant & Bar, The Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch is a must when it comes to cool things to do in Malibu. This is the perfect setting for brunch with friends or a low-key birthday party, but do note it closes during the winter season, so be sure to check the website to avoid disappointment.

Set on a grassy hillside on the beautiful Calamigos Ranch, The Malibu Cafe is so much more than a cafe. This magical outdoor venue is brimming with Insta-worthy nooks and crannies, all sorts of lawn games, family-friendly activities, and even a small pond to paddle around in! 

This is a very popular spot to while away a Sunday afternoon over bottomless mimosas and excellent farm-to-table brunch fare, like the Beef Hash with Fried Eggs or Chicken and Waffles. Or visit for lunch or dinner and savor seasonal cocktails before dining on dishes like the Ahi Tuna Salad, Cauliflower Bisque, Tri-Tip Sandwich, or Skillet Mac and Cheese.


12. Nosh on all the Fresh Seafood

What to do in Malibu, California: Broad Street Oyster Company

This is Malibu, which means restaurants serve some of the best seafood in the state. If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to places to eat. Here are a few standout seafood spots!

Located in Malibu Village, the Broad Street Oyster Company is the perfect place to gather with friends while munching on some seriously good seafood. From oysters on the half shell and fried clams to seafood ceviche and buttery lobster rolls, you’ll be in seafood heaven.

Malibu, California Things to do: Broad Street Oyster Company

Located on the PCH near Leo Carrillo State Beach, Neptune’s Net has been a Malibu institution since 1956. It’s a great spot to pull over for a quick and casual seafood meal. You can’t go wrong with one of the seafood baskets or a bowl of their famous clam chowder.

For something extra-special, make reservations to dine on the oceanfront patio at Nobu Malibu. This exclusive restaurant serves up everything from Wagyu sashimi tacos to lobster sashimi. And yes, there is a dress code.


13. Be Transported to Southern India at the Malibu Hindu Temple

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Malibu, you should definitely pay a visit to the Malibu Hindu Temple. Technically located in Calabasas, you’ll find this architectural gem tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains, 7 miles inland from the Malibu Pier. 

Built in 1981, this traditional South Indian-style temple stands proud as one of the largest Hindu temples in the Western Hemisphere and boasts stunning carvings and statues around every turn. Dedicated to the Hindu god Venkateswara, the Lord of Venkata, this is an active place of worship for followers of the Hindu faith.

It’s possible to explore the buildings and the grounds, but you will have to remove your shoes to enter the temple. Pro tip: If you happen to visit on a weekend or on a holiday, there is a kitchen on-site that serves up excellent (and affordable!) vegetarian South Indian food and chai tea!


14. Learn How to Surf

Best Things to do in Malibu, California: Zuma Beach

It’s no secret that surfing is one of the best things to do in Malibu. But don’t worry if you’ve never paddled out before because Malibu boasts surf spots that are well-suited to beginners and experts alike.

If you’ve never surfed before, Zuma Beach is the place to go. Tucked away in Western Malibu, Zuma Beach is a prime spot for beginners and intermediate surfers. You can also take lessons or rent gear from one of Malibu’s many outlets, including Malibu Surf Coach. If you’re not into surfing, Zuma Beach is a popular spot to set up shop for the day, splash around, and soak up the sun.

Cool Things to do in Malibu, California: Zuma Beach

Experienced surfers are sure to have Malibu Surfrider Beach on their Malibu bucket list. Located just off the Malibu Pier, this is one of the best surf spots in the state. From Topanga Beach to County Line, you’ll find all sorts of surf spots dotting Malibu’s coast!


15. Marvel at the Adamson House (aka the ‘Taj Mahal of Tile’)

Set right on Malibu Lagoon State Beach, the Adamson House is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs. Known as the “Taj Mahal of Tile,” this architectural gem was completed in 1930 and stands proud as an example of modified Mediterranean Revival-style architecture.

This 10-story home and its landmark gardens are now open to the public. One of the coolest things about the Adamson House is the extensive use of Malibu Potteries tile – including a fully tiled swimming pool and a 60-foot “Persian carpet” made entirely out of Malibu Potteries tile.

From the hand-painted ceilings to the tiled Neptune Fountain, this entire estate is a work of art. Some rooms, including the living room and kitchen, also boast furniture and appliances that were once used by the Adamsons. 

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the fascinating history of Malibu, you should also pay a visit to the adjacent Malibu Lagoon Museum, which tells the story of everything from the Chumash Indians to the Malibu Movie Colony. 

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Malibu. What’s your favorite thing to do?


SHARE THIS ON PINTEREST


Author

  • Justine Lopez

    Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust!

    In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond.

    When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

    View all posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *