Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for travelling, which means if you are not staying home for the holidays, you need to be booking flight fare and accommodation well in advance….or just monitor flights on Hopper every day for two weeks until prices drop (which is what we did).
Many people don’t consider visiting the surfing capital of the country in the middle of winter, but that’s what made it the perfect location for our Christmas holiday. Though many businesses, shops and restaurants were still up and running, there weren’t that many people there which meant that waiting 30 minutes for your lunch reservation at Malibu Farms.
It’s hard to visit Malibu and not want to quit real life and permanently move there. Embodying a true California surfer vibe, Malibu has the best views from every cliff, cute restaurants and a more relaxed pace outside of busy LA.
There are tons of things to do in Malibu that will make you question why you don’t spend every single weekend in the waterfront city. Hit the beach, hike through the hills, go wine tasting and hit some of the west coast’s best restaurants.
Where we stayed
We could not have asked to stay in a better location in Malibu. We stayed in one of William Close's many houses on Vista Mar Drive which was actually pretty difficult to get to...especially when it is 11PM and the house is situated high in the Malibu Canyons. This house was all about the ocean and canyon, with expansive ocean views from every room in the house. The house had a modern exterior with a somewhat contemporary interior with wall sized windows that open to decks and outdoor spaces, creating the ultimate indoor/outdoor living experiences.
Only a mile away from the closest beach, the house was situated in the heart of Malibu hills overlooking the sea and canyons. The house is surrounded by indigenous chaparral vegetation and wildlife including herbs, wild flowers, fruit trees and your fair share of deer roaming through your back yard.
The house was designed by Don Dimster, a well renowned American architect and the house is well suited to the talented musician...as you can see from his expansive music studio downstairs. The gorgeous Malibu Beaches, shopping and restaurants are all nearby along with some pretty awesome surfing spots only 7 minutes away at the famous Malibu point. The house is located in the same canyon as the popular solstice canyon waterfall hike and Jim Morrison Cave.
LA is notorious for being a heavily-trafficked driving city, and it holds true to it’s reputation. A car is pretty much a necessity in Malibu, however, we can say that the scenery in Malibu is much preferred to the city.
The owners of the house also included some amenities for extra special pampering including access to the highest quality health and fitness practitioners, personal chefs, massage therapists, yoga instructors and beauticians who offer at-home facials, manicures and pedicures. With all of this at our fingertips, it was difficult to venture out into Malibu.
Malibu’s Food Scene
Everyone along the coast knows of Malibu Farms. It is the cutest seaside atmosphere with wooden chandeliers and coastal accents. The relaxed vibe of the restaurant and café allows one to spend the whole day here with a fun cocktail in hand. Their diverse menu offers both healthy and fresh options with tons of sharing plates.
The farm sits on the Malibu pier which welcomes both local residents and tourists for breathtaking views of the coast and boutique shops. Unlike the crowded Santa Monica Pier, Malibu’s is a quiet, tranquil spot for a nice sunset stroll or beachside bite.
I don’t really have to say too much here. It is both a restaurant to see and be seen. Not only will the sushi hit every taste bud in your pallet, but you will most likely dine next to Hollywood’s hottest celebrities. It is located above the beach with great views of the ocean, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
This popular West coast chain restaurant offers some of the best seafood and cocktails imaginable. We went here a total of three times; once in Malibu and twice in San Diego.
This menu features all of your tex-mex fixes with a flair of simplicity and straight to the point Cuban food that you will die over. The atmosphere is laid back but also romantic with hanging lights and plants.
Calamigos Beach Club Restaurant
This adorable five-acre ranch with mid-century décor is located along the beach. It is a little further off the beaten path but with the sand beach bar located on-site you wont mind at all. Take a stroll around the restaurant and enjoy the amazing architecture of the ranch.
Malibu Seafood Café
Seafood and fast food don’t seem like words that should be put together-but Malibu Seafood Café makes an art out of it. If you’re craving good seafood in a casual atmosphere-just head up to the window and place and order.
Perfect for a romantic evening, this go-to white tablecloth restaurant offers international cuisine and coastal views.
Best Things to Do
Malibu Wine Safaris
The best part about being on vacation is the fact that starting your morning drinking wine and looking at giraffes is totally acceptable. Malibu Wine Safaris is set amongst a sprawling 1000-acre Saddlerock ranch. The safari offers a unique experience of a wine tasting tour, all whilst sitting aboard a safari jeep.
After a few wine tours, we’ve learned that it is an activity best done while avoiding walking. People embarking on the Malibu Wine Safari are able to explore this beautiful estate from lofty jeeps whilst a variety of exotic animals wander by.
Malibu Wines is also a picturesque vineyard and tasting room which boasts plenty of lawn space for picnicking if seeing Giraffes isn’t really your thing.
Hit up Malibu’s Most Pristine Beaches
There are tons of beaches alongside Malibu, and each of them offer a different perspective of the area.
This clean, wide patch of sand and surf at Zuma is the best spot to sit, relax and swim. Zuma beach has plenty of on-site parking and is the longest stretch of beach with sugary white sand.
Directly to the south, you’ll find Point Dume Beach, with both hikers and climbers scaling its iconic namesake rock face and strolling through seasonal wildflower fields atop its crown. A boardwalk, a beach and sea lions all gather in this great spot. This nature preserve is located along a coastal bluff and many people ascend the trail to the sand dunes to take in the incredible views. If it is the right season, you might even be lucky to see a few migrating gray whales off in the distance.
Small, beautiful and dominated by rocky outcrops, El Matador is almost an exact replica of the Australia’s famous 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. Wear shoes because the only way to get there is through a small hike and steep path down. Arriving early or staying late rewards you with some of the best views of the sunrise/sunset.
The cliffs are massive and stunning and the rock formations provide perfect photos. Grab a tower and a bottle of wine and picnic at one of the most picturesque beaches in Malibu.
Adjacent to the Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach is a surfer’s paradise offering 300 yards of surf thanks to the 3 point break in the waves. The beach is also open to local fisherman and fish along the shoreline.
Nicholas Canyon Beach
A classic beach along a pretty U shaped section, this beach is accessible via a narrow set of stares and offers some great surfing spots.
Visit the Getty
There are two famous Getty museums in California, and one of them is just outside of Malibu! It holds tons of decorative arts and paintings with an impressive collection of Mediterranean antiques. There are roughly 1,200 artefacts on display and the museum has a beautiful palatial courtyard and manicured gardens.
Go Hiking through the Canyon
With dramatic gorges, hidden pools and jagged peaks, Malibu Creek is one of the most stunning spots in Southern California. Following the Woolsey Fire, the park is only open during the day. Because we visited during the winter, we found ourselves surrounded by lush green grass blanketing the floor of the park.
One of the biggest waterfalls in Southern California, Escondido Falls is a two-tiered 150 cascade over limestone rocks covered in bright green moss. Be sure to wear hiking shoes because you will most likely have to crisscross streams and climb some jagged rocks.
A popular hike with many different levels of difficulty, Solstice Canyon offers amazing views of the canyon, sea and waterfalls in Malibu.
Tuna Canyon Park
Tuna Canyon Trails is a 4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Topanga that features beautiful wild flowers and is goof for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running and mountain biking.
Charmlee Wilderness Park
Perched on a bluff overlooking Malibu’s alluring coast, this 590-acre park has eight miles of interwoven trails perfect for all skill levels. The park also includes tons of picnic areas, native plant displays and a nature center.