Malibu is the epitome of glamorous paradise, which is why so many rich and famous people call this top-rated Southern California city their home. Malibu is filled with unbelievable mega-mansions with unbeatable ocean views, but it also has beautiful natural areas with sandy beaches, perfect waves, and watersports from sunrise to sunset. Here are the top things to do in Malibu for an unforgettable vacation.

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Check out the Rock Formations at El Matador Beach Rock spires at El Matador Beach in Malibu, California
Rock spires at El Matador Beach in Malibu, California

Check out the Rock Formations at El Matador Beach (Nearby Hotels)

El Matador Beach is one of the most stunning places in Malibu because of the rocky outcroppings along the beach. This beach is just north of Malibu and accessed by a gravel pathway. This is a great place to find some tranquility and seclusion, although there aren’t any lifeguards here and you’ll need to check the tide schedule so you don’t get stranded and have to swim back to shore. Plan to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds, if possible. Photographers love this spot because of how amazing it looks in pictures.

Get a Peek at Oceanside Mansions Oceanside mansion in beautiful Malibu
Oceanside mansion in beautiful Malibu

Get a Peek at Oceanside Mansions (Nearby Hotels)

You’re probably familiar with a long list of celebrities that have a home in Malibu, such as Lady Gaga, Jack Nicholson, Miley Cyrus, and Leonardo DiCaprio. But if you’re simply driving around town, you might be disappointed to learn that you really can’t see many high-end homes up-close from the road. The terrain is hilly, driveways are blocked by gates, and after all, we need to respect people’s privacy. However, top celebrity neighborhoods are Carbon Beach, Malibu Colony, and Broad Beach. You can book a tour through an organized group, such as StarLine Tours, for a Malibu Stars Homes tour in an open-top van to get insider’s tips from an experienced tour guide and learn about the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Hang Out at Zuma Beach Dume Cove Malibu, Zuma Beach
Dume Cove Malibu, Zuma Beach

Hang Out at Zuma Beach (Nearby Hotels)

One of the most popular beaches here is Zuma Beach, and for good reason! This is a large Malibu beach that’s great for everything from swimming to surfing, fishing, volleyball, and building sandcastles. You’ll feel safe with lifeguards on duty at Zuma Beach and also enjoy easy access to great restaurants nearby once you’re done in the sun and sand.

Walk on the Malibu Pier Malibu Pier and Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Malibu Pier and Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Walk on the Malibu Pier (Nearby Hotels)

Like many great Southern California destinations, Malibu has its very own pier that extends out into the Pacific Ocean. This 780-foot-long pier is beloved by local fishermen and a fun place to simply go for a walk along at sunrise or sunset. You can often see surfers riding the waves from the pier and stop by a pier restaurant for some delicious seafood. This is no busy Santa Monica Pier, but it does have a few beach-side eateries and boutique shops that are worth checking out in a more tranquil environment.

Take a Scenic Drive Malibu Sign, along Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu Sign, along Pacific Coast Highway

Take a Scenic Drive (Nearby Hotels)

Malibu is also an ideal place to get in your car and admire the scenery on a casual drive. Malibu boasts 27 miles of scenic beauty along the Pacific Coast Highway. One great drive is from Santa Monica to Oxnard along Highway #1. This route is about 50 miles long and will take up to two hours depending on how many stops you make along the way. Malibu Canyon Road and Topanga Canyon Boulevard are nice side roads to take from of this route when you’re in the area.

Tour the Adamson House Adamson House before a tour
Credit: Alyssa L. Ochs
Adamson House before a tour

Tour the Adamson House (Nearby Hotels)

One must-do tour while you’re in Malibu is the Adamson House. On a guided tour of this historic house, you’ll learn about what Malibu was like in the early 20th century and be inspired by the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture on the outside and the intricately tiled décor on the inside. Photography is not allowed inside the house, but you’ll definitely remember all the hand-crafted details and interesting history of the family who lived here. There’s also the Malibu Lagoon Museum next door that contains documents, photos, and exhibits to learn even more about Malibu’s history.

See the Malibu Hindu Temple Malibu Hindu Temple from the outside
Credit: Alyssa L. Ochs
Malibu Hindu Temple from the outside

See the Malibu Hindu Temple (Nearby Hotels)

Regardless of your religious affiliation, the Malibu Hindu Temple is stunningly beautiful to see up-close and in-person. This temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Venkateswara, and has religious services and hosts special holiday events. But anyone can walk around the temple and even inside of it to see the intricate carvings, beautiful statues, and learn about the culture. The temple is open every day of the year, and Hindu priests live on the temple grounds. Just make sure to remove your shoes at the entrance and wear business-casual attire when you visit.

Give Kitesurfing a Try Kite surfer hits the waves just offshore in Malibu
Kite surfer hits the waves just offshore in Malibu

Give Kitesurfing a Try (Nearby Hotels)

Watersports are a way of life in Malibu, so it would be a shame not to get out on the water to have an adventure of your own while you’re here. Malibu Coastal Adventures is a local guide company that offers kitesurfing lessons that include a professional instructor, all the gear you’ll need, and a wetsuit to keep you comfortable. This is a pretty challenging sport though, so it’s best if you can sign up for three lessons to learn everything you’ll need to know. In a class you’ll learn about the proper techniques to use, how to safely launch and fly the kite, and how to land smoothly. Other lessons will teach you about how to get up on the board, relaunch a fallen kite, and safety tips.

Enjoy Leo Carrillo State Beach Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu
Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu

Enjoy Leo Carrillo State Beach (Nearby Hotels)

When you’re in Malibu, definitely don’t miss out on visiting Leo Carrillo State Park. This lovely park is great for windsurfing, surfing, and swimming. You can also hike on the trails and camp overnight in the campground. The maximum trailer or motorhome length here is 31 feet, and the park spans 1.5 miles of beach. The campground has token-operated showers, 20/30/50-amp electrical hookups, and fire rings where you can burn firewood when the day’s fire level permits. The beach hiking trail is a moderate difficulty, while the Yellow Hill Trail is easy and the Nicholas Flat Trail is more difficult.

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