Malibu’s Top 10 Hotspots
1. Surfrider Beach/Malibu Pier/Zuma Beach
While, technically, this represents three locations, they all celebrate the beach culture that is essential Malibu. The Malibu Pier was originally built in 1905 to support the business operations of one of Malibu´s founding fathers, Frederick Hastings Rindge, and was used to transfer produce from his private railroad (which had a terminus nearby) to outward-bound ships.
Surfrider might be one of the most famous beaches in the world, with a wave that defined the sport of surfing in the 50s and 60s. With a southward-facing breakpoint, sunny days mean crowded surf, but the beach is where to be seen.
Nowadays the Pier is used mostly for fishing and enjoying the views of the curving coastline and mountaintops. But if you´re hungry, the Malibu Pier Club offers beachy snacks and great cocktails. And a perfect spot to watch volleyballers or surfers on Surfrider Beach, just north of the pier.
There´s more room to spread out at Zuma Beach, a few miles up the coast, replete with snack bars, shower facilities and volleyball courts. Great for whale watching in the winter and boogie-boarding in the summer.
With mountains so close to the sea, Malibu has a thriving viticulture whose temperate weather resembles southern France. Malibu Family Wines springs from Saddlerock Ranch, founded more than 300 years ago as part of the original Spanish Land Grant and the Semler Family started producing tow excellent local vintages about 10 years ago.
The Malibu Wine Tasting Garden, high in the Malibu Hills, is a perfect setting for the late-afternoon oenophile. Bring some great cheese and relax in a charming garden. Award winning vintages are available to taste and purchase or you can join their wine club. Afterwards, stroll up to the top of the hill to watch a breathtaking sunset.
You can dive into Malibu´s early history at the Adamson House, a designated historic landmark just north of Surfrider Beach at the mouth of Malibu Creek. Designed by Stiles O. Clements and built in 1930, this Spanish Colonial residence was the home of one of Rhoda Rindge Adamson and her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson and has terrific views of SurfriderBeach and the Malibu Bird Sanctuary.
The grounds have been lovingly preserved with flagstone walkways, but the hallmark of the estate is the generous use throughout the home of Malibu tile. These stunning works of artisan craftsmanship originated from Malibu Potteries, which operating in the 20s and 30s, and copies are available for purchase at the gift shop.
While there are many fine restaurants in Malibu, we have been blessed with a special honor ? a coveted Michelin Star. While Saddle Peak Lodge is technically in Calabasas, the mountains surrounding it are Malibu. Established 100 years ago, the Saddle Peak Lodge passed through many incarnations as a pony express shop, a roadhouse, a general store and possibly a bordello before finally evolving into a summer resort camp and hangout for movie stars like Clark Gable.
Last year, chef Steven Rojas captured a Michelin Star, one of the first awarded in California, for his rustic take on haute cuisine. The woody ambiance, with timbered rooflines, massive rock walls, saloon portraits of naked ladies and stuffed heads of moose, are a perfect compliment to a dinner you´ll never forget.
Named for Father Junipero Serra, the 18th century Franciscan friar who founded the chain of California missions, the Serra Retreat was founded more than 60 years ago on a bluff overlooking the Pacific as a facility to get back in touch with your spiritual center. Spectacular views, natural beauty and uninterrupted time for rest and reflection make this Franciscan retreat a true oasis in a busy and troubled world.
Available for couples, families, individuals or groups, Serra allows you take the time to assess your life honestly so that, “we may have life and have it to its fullness” (John 10:10).
If you visit during the summer, you might enjoy Malibu´s Free Family Movie Night in the Park. When the evening breezes are warm, Malibu invites you to bring kids, blankets, lawn chairs and a picnic to Bluffs Park (right across from Pepperdine University) and enjoy family movie fare on Saturday nights, starting at dusk. Under starry skies and with the sounds and sights of the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, you´ll be able to enjoy first-run, family oriented films on the big screen.
7. Getty Villa
John Paul Getty might have been richer than God, but his philosophy on art was purely plebian. His staggering collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, housed in the newly refurbished Getty Villa, are on public view absolutely free of charge (though you must book your visit in advance).
Modeled after the Villa dei Papiri in Italy, Getty built his hilltop home in 1974 to house his collection of more than 44,000 artifacts. After renovation, the Villa features revamped galleries, outdoor gardens, libraries and changing exhibitions that celebrate the culture of antiquity. The café has sunny views of the Villa and gardens for a perfect Sunday afternoon brunch.
Hollywood didn´t have to go far to find the ideal setting for its many westerns. In 1927, Paramount Studios purchased a 2,000-acre property in the mountains above Malibu and build large-scale replicas of old Western towns. The Paramount Ranch is still a functioning film set and available to tour or as a launching point for some beautiful hiking. Movies and 50s TV Westerns shot here include “The Santa Fe Trail, Broken Lullaby” and “Have Gun Will Travel.” Television shows shot here until recently include “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and the HBO series, “Carnivale.”
9. Malibu Riders, Park Place Stable
If riding´s your thing, consider Malibu Riders horse rentals or Park Place Stable. Starting up in the hills of Zuma Canyon or on Nicholas Beach, riders can enjoy trails with breathtaking ocean views or sunset canters along the beach. Horse boarding and training also available.
10. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy State Parks
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy State Parks includes a number of parks close to Malibu. But the Malibu Creek State Park is one of our crowning jewels. The park has over 4,000 acres, featuring hiking, fishing, bird-watching, camping and riding trails, with more than 15 miles of stream-side trails through oak and sycamore woodlands.
The park was the center of Chumash Native American life for centuries and ancient cave drawings may still be found. Hollywood being not far away, the park acted as a film set for movies like “Planet of the Apes” and the long-running TV hit M*A*S*H.
The Santa Monica Mountains played host this year to National Geographic´s biodiversity count: BioBlitz in which some 1800 different species were counted in a 24-hour period. That includes golden eagles, mule deer, bobcats and mountain lions; so keep an eye out while hiking.