Malibu is full of great places to play, eat and soak up an array of culture all within a 21 mile stretch of PCH. So if you haven’t already, load up the family to explore this wonder that right in our backyard. From beaches to shopping and great places to eat, here is your quintessential guide to Malibu.

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Beaches

Let’s face it: the beach is one of Malibu’s premier draws and it’s certainly worth the trek to explore the unique bits of the coast this city has to offer. These are our fave spots when you have the kids with you!

Malibu Lagoon/Surfrider Beach
Within walking distance to the Malibu Pier, this beach is a premier spot to watch surfers in action. The water is clean and when the tide is low, tide pools appear to reveal amazing marine life for your little explorers. Walk along the sand to explore shells, rocks, seaweed, birds and all the other goodies that come with the Pacific. Parking is $3-$12 and includes a short walk to the water. You can also park for free along PCH, but the traffic you face when crossing can be daunting with little ones.

23050 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: californiabeaches.com/beach/malibu-surfrider-beach

photo: Andie Huber

Paradise Cove
Paradise Cove is the perfect spot if you want to enjoy a little extra TLC on the beach. If you don’t feel like packing a picnic, The Paradise Cove Cafe offers a menu complete with clam chowder and other seafood favorites that you can enjoy right near the sand. There are also chaise lounges, umbrellas and even terraces for rent if you feel like really entertaining yourself in style. Otherwise, you can bring your beach towels and enjoy a simple day on the beach. Parking is free on PCH if you don’t mind a bit of a walk. Otherwise, it is worth making a purchase at the Cafe where if you spend $30 (which is easy to do with drinks, snacks, or a full lunch) means you can enjoy 4 hours of validated parking for $6 during the week and $8 on weekends and holidays. Otherwise, parking is $35 on weekdays and $50 on weekends (yup, you read that right!).

28128 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: paradisecovemalibu.com

Point Dume
If you want to combine a beach day with a hike, Point Dume is the spot. First, enjoy a scenic walk along the sand where the kids can take in the amazing rock cliffs (complete with climbers) and possibly even see seals soaking in a little sunshine along the way. Once your beach babes have had ample water and sand time, be sure to take the hike up top to the lookout. From there, enjoy the spectacular views of the coastline.

ADVERTISEMENT

Insider Tip: Plan your day so that you end it here. While the sun starts to set, you can still see the dolphins (and sometimes even whales) from your perch on top of the cliff.  

7103 Westward Beach Rd.
Online: parks.ca.gov/

Zuma Beach
Located up the beach from Point Dume, Zuma has ranked as one of the healthiest beaches in LA County thanks to its clean water conditions. Aside from swimming, there’s plenty to do here including windsurfing, fishing, volleyball and flying kites.

30000 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: beaches.lacounty.gov

Playgrounds

Malibu Bluffs Park
We know the beach is the earth’s most obvious playground but Malibu is also chock full of playgrounds that are worth there weight in sand. With all of the beautiful distractions of the Pacific Coast Highway, this gem can be easy to miss. Just south of PCH and across from Pepperdine University, this community park offers a spectacular perspective on the Pacific.

Here you can take in the whole of the Pacific Coast through telescopes (where you can sometimes spot whales and dolphins!). There are picnic tables, a playground, zip line, a soccer field, two baseball diamonds and a whale watching station. A perfect spot to start the day or wrap up the afternoon.

Insider Tip: Take the path along the edge and hike down to the ocean with your explorers.

24250 Pacific Coast Hwy.
310-317-1364
Online: malibucity.org/facilities/facility/details/Malibu-Bluffs-Park-6

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Las Flores Creek Park
Another hidden gem tucked into the canyons just north of PCH, this pocket park is a perfect pit stop where the little players can stretch their legs and use a clean bathroom (yes!). The playground is beautifully crafted with wood structures — a nod of old-school play structures. There are climbing webs, a multi-person spinner, play boat and an old-school see-saw.

The park is surrounded by awe-inspiring sycamore trees. Take a walk along the trail to view 45 native plants species and the creek below.

3805 Las Flores Canyon Rd.
310-456-2489
Online: malibucity.org

Explore

Malibu Library
Looking for a retreat indoors? This welcoming space has the obvious draw of books but also hosts a number of family-centered activities and events through the week include music time for toddlers and tots, shows for the older set, crafts and concerts for the entire family. Check their website for details and calendar of events.

23500 Civic Center Way
Online: malibucity.org

photo: Meghan Rose

The Getty Villa
Bring the entire family for a walk through the beautiful grounds that are a replica of a Roman Villa. This place is full of spectacular views, an incredible collection of art and amazing gardens. Be sure to visit the family room where the kids can build and draw on Etruscan vases, search for art treasure or become part of a shadow play. Plus, the Villa Cafe has Mediterranean meals that range from penne pasta and pizza to tasty salad and Mediterranean platters complete with tabbouleh and hummus for the entire family.

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: getty.edu/visit/villa

photo: Melanie Wynne via Flickr

Historic Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum
Malibu is full of history and the Adamson House and Lagoon Museum is no exception. What was once home to the Chumash Indians until nearly the end of the 18th Century, the Rindge family bought and built this famed house. Designed in the Spanish Colonial style, it is full of colorful and original tile.

Insider Tip: Because of the delicate nature of the house and, quite frankly, all that beautiful tile we recommend this Adamson House tour for kids 7 & up.

23200 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: adamsonhouse.org

photo: Pepperdine Center for the Arts

Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University
The Center for the Arts at Pepperdine hosts a wide range of performances all year long as well as hosts family art days, free backstage tours and tours of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art. Check their website for this year’s schedule. And be sure to frolic on the amazing Pepperdine lawn that overlooks the ocean. There’s nothing else like it around.

24255 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: arts.pepperdine.edu/events/family-performances

Hiking

Corral Canyon Park
If you have hikers in your house, this is the spot for your family. This 1,000-acre park sits on PCH between Kanan Dune Rd. and Malibu Canyon. Bring a hat, sunscreen and a picnic in your backpack. Explore the trail that leads to spectacular mountain and ocean views. As you head back down take in the marsh, native grass, and Corral Creek. Hungry? Grab a picnic table and enjoy that picnic after working up an appetite.

25623 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Online: lamountains.com

photo: Don Barrett via Flickr

Solstice Canyon
If you have a variety of hiking levels in your home, head to Solstice Canyon where easy, moderate and strenuous trails all offer mountain and ocean views. If you have little hikers in tow, the Rising Sun Trail is perfect, which will give you a view of a charming waterfall and the remains of the Keller House — a stone hunting canyon that is over 100 years old and was damaged by a fire in 2007. Make it to the Solstice Waterfall and you will also discover the ruins of The Roberts Ranch House designed by architect Paul Revere Williams in 1952. Solstice Canyon is a combination of natural beauty and human ingenuity.

3455 Solstice Canyon Rd.
Online: nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/solsticecanyon

Another of our fave hikes is Malibu Creek Park, which has two hikes of varying lengths that each end at a natural pool you can swim in!  Check out our coverage of this gorgeous natural hike and swim (and other spots where you can swim in nature) here.

photo: Andie Huber

Eat

Kristy’s Village Cafe
Located on the green in Trancas Country Market, this casual dining spot is what every parent looks for — good food and ample seating both indoors and out. If you score a spot outdoors, antsy kids can run off all that energy on the central play space while you get to sip your coffee (or bloody mary) like an adult.

Insider Tip: A summer concert series runs every Fri., 6-9 p.m., starting Jul. 13 through Sept. 14 and movies on The Green will be every Thurs. at sunset, starting Jun 14.

30745 Pacific Coast Hwy.
310-457-1018
Online: kristysvillagecafe.com

Vintage Grocers
If you’re headed to the beach or a playground and you need those picnic provisions, be sure to stop at Vintage Grocers. Along with high-end grocery offerings that you can create a meal with, there are also fresh salad and hot bars, plus pressed paninis at the deli. Be sure to take a look at the bakery where you can snag their generous samples while you make your decision. Vintage Grocers also happens to have clean bathrooms in the store. Let’s not kid ourselves — our lives as parents so often revolve around such discoveries.

30745 Pacific Coast Hwy.
310-457-2828
Online: vintagegrocers.com

photo: SweetBu Candy

Sweets

SweetBu
Run by Malibu-local Melissa Smith, this old-fashioned candy shop with a modern twist is the only place in all of Malibu to get candy and chocolate that will satisfy parents as well as the kids. Don’t forget to check out the hard-to-find international treats as well as throwback candy that will have your nostalgia kicking into overdrive. Lip Licking Lip Balm anyone?

30745 Pacific Coast Hwy.
866-379-3382
Online: sweetbu.com

Malibu Kitchen and Gourmet Country Kitchen
If it’s a sweet treat the family is looking for, everyone will find something at this classic spot. This old-school bakery offers traditional cookies, innovations (mmmm, the Oreo brownie bar) and cupcakes; all so big they could feed an army. The Country Kitchen also boasts jars of classic candy that your sweets fiends can peruse and you can pay by the bag. Grab something to go and enjoy it with the rest of your lunch by the playground if you’d like. Let them burn off that sugar.

Grom Gelato
If it’s a cold treat the family craves head to Grom Gelato also in the Country Mart. Grom offers authentic gelato with ingredients directly from Italy. Whether it’s pistachio or biscotti your crave, Grom has you covered. Grom also offers sorbet if you need or want to avoid dairy. Though Grom posts are popping up all over the city now, this is the original West Coast storefront, and there’s just something about gelato by the beach.  While the kids attack cookies bigger than their heads from the Country Kitchen, you may want to pop next door for a small cup of sinful indulgence (we recommend the Cioccolato Extranoir, if you’re a chocolate fan; it’s to die for).

3886 Cross Creek Rd.
Online: grom.it/en

Shop

To get that easy, breezy Malibu look (both in your closet and in your home), head to Trancas Country Market for off-the-beaten-path finds that will get you one step closer to living that Malibu beach life. There you’ll find clothing stores that offer linen dresses, tops, and pants that will make you want to re-think your entire wardrobe as well as home decor stores filled with furniture, decorative objects, and unique gifts and candles you won’t find anywhere else.

photo: Andie Huber

Malibu Beach House
Rustic decor mixes with effortlessly sophisticated pieces for the home and beyond. Spend time smelling the various candles, perusing the coffee-table books and never-before-seen gift trinkets. Just try and leave here without buying something.

30745 Pacific Coast Hwy.
310-457-5600
Online: bubeachhouse.com

photo: Andie Huber

Hiptique
Part clothing retailer, part home decor and gift shop, this California shop stocks hard to find designs in the most crave-worthy fabrics and prints. Send the kids over to the crafting table at the 98% Angel next door (pick something up for them while you are there too) while you take your time finding that perfect linen sundress that will channel your inner Malibu Mom (all zen right?!) any day of the week.

30745 Pacific Coast Hwy.
310-399-6105
Online: hiptique.com

 

What are your favorite spots in Malibu?  Let us know in the comment section below!

—LeTania Kirkland Smith & Andie Huber

RELATED STORIES:

Dive Into LA’s Best Public Pools

6 Swimming Spot That Are Wet, Wild & All Natural

Best Beaches For Your Beach Babe

Try Casitas Water Adventure To Splash and Chill