Things to Do in Malibu
Jave and I celebrated seven long blissful years of marriage this past Saturday. While I’m currently suffering from an insatiable case of itchy feet and would’ve loved to hop on a plane to just about anywhere to celebrate, we decided to take a conservative approach and explore locally. Considering all of the travel plans that we have coming up this fall and winter, we’ll be focusing our explorations on backyard travel until then. But man, it’s hard not to hightail it to some exotic locale!
Fortunately, living in Southern California, we have a few daytrip options that leave us feeling as if we’ve escaped to a whole other world when, in reality, we only ventured about 30 miles from home. This is exactly how we felt when we recently returned home from our daytime exploits in Malibu.
While we’re no strangers to Malibu, we usually stick to a few key places whenever we visit: Paradise Cove, Zuma Beach, and Geoffrey’s Malibu for some amazing seafood with even more amazing views. But this time, we explored beyond our usual haunts, so I thought it’d be helpful to put together a post highlighting a few things to do in Malibu for the next time you desperately need to escape from L.A. proper.
I had no idea that the Malibu Pier is a part of the California State Parks. Located next to Surfrider Beach which boasts a three-point break, Malibu Pier could best be described as minimal in comparison to other piers in other Southern California beach cities. You won’t find any rides here like at the Santa Monica Pier, and although we did stop at Malibu Farm at the end of the pier to pick up our $18 jars of fresh pressed juices, dining options are limited.
But you know what? The minimalist approach to pier activities is befitting of a city like Malibu where many Hollywood celebrities call home and where many of we everyday Angelenos escape to when the city bustle gets to be too much. So you’ll find a few restaurants on the pier, a beach equipment rental company, and scattered fishermen hoping for a catch, but not much else. It’s worth noting that plans for a surf museum on the pier are underway.
Surf & SUP
The beauty of Malibu is that the city is flanked by the Pacific, so there’s plenty of beach to go around to surf and stand up paddle (SUP). A quick Google search will also reveal several companies that offer surf and SUP lessons in the area.
Walk the Beach
The waters off of California’s coast tend to be icy cold year round, so if you’re anything like me and don’t want to freeze, simply walk the beach instead of submerging. A walk along Malibu’s beaches is also a good way to survey the real estate. While Venice Beach and certain other beaches in L.A.’s South Bay feature beachside homes, in my opinion, they’re not as chic as the beachside homes in Malibu. Also, the beach homes in Malibu are constructed right on the beach as opposed to being separated from the water by bike paths and the like as you’ll find at other SoCal beaches. There’s no question that Malibu boasts some of California’s most prime (read: extremely expensive) real estate.
El Matador State Beach
As I mentioned before, prior to our recent Malibu jaunt, Paradise Cove and Zuma Beach were my beaches of choice in L.A. However, over the years, Paradise Cove has evolved from being someplace special into a tourist trap as they now charge exorbitant parking fees and the food at the adjoining restaurant is mediocre at best. And while I still love me some Zuma Beach even with its choppy waters, I just fell in love with a new L.A. beach – El Matador State Beach. It was literally love at first sight as I gasped when I first laid eyes on this view as we approached the hill and stairs leading down to the sand…
With huge mussel-clad rock formations rising from the sand, picturesque cliffs, and clean water (at least for L.A. standards), El Matador has that special “it” factor that beach bums like me love. I’ve heard that the sunsets here are spectacular, but considering that we had dinner plans, we didn’t get to witness one for ourselves. All the more reason to go back if you ask me. Jave, on the other hand, who’s also known as the “West Indian Beach Snob”, thinks that all beaches pale in comparison to those in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. I have to constantly remind him that this is L.A., and in L.A., El Matador is the best beach I’ve come across…period!TIPS: The entrance fee is $8 for cars parking onsite. The fee is less for people who visit car-free. Also, there’s a steep hill and stairs leading down to the sand, so wear appropriate shoes.
Bird Watch at the Malibu Lagoon
Where the mouth of Malibu Creek and the Pacific meet, you’ll find Malibu Lagoon State Beach which is used by migratory birds as a stopover during the Pacific Flyway. I’m not a birder, but I believe we spotted several pelicans in action at the lagoon. However, over 200 species of birds can be spotted here at various times throughout the year.
This historic Mediterranean-style Malibu home is located within the Malibu Lagoon State Beach. The Adamson House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated California Historical Landmark. The home was built in 1930 for Rhoda Rindge Adamson (and her husband), the daughter of a wealthy Bostonian businessman who owned the Rindge Ranch which included Rancho Topanga and some surrounding areas. In all, the ranch included present day Malibu and parts of the Santa Monica Mountains. That’s some ranch – huh?
During our visit, the Visitor’s Center was closed, so we didn’t get to explore inside of the home which costs $7/person. But there’s no cost to roam the grounds surrounding the home, and there are several placards offering some historical tidbits about the home and the surrounding area which originally was part of a village called Humaliwo meaning, “the surf sounds loudly”; the village belonged to the Chumash Indians.
The next time we’re in Malibu, I’d definitely like to explore the inside of the house which is nicknamed the “Taj Mahal of Tile” because of all of the decorative ceramic tiles found throughout the home.