An Insider's Guide for Malibu
An Insider's View on Visiting Malibu
Insider's Tips on Visiting Malibu
What do you think of when you hear, “Malibu”? For most people, it’s probably the beach, celebrities, and expensive cars. For me, it’s home. Here are some of my insider tips for enjoying Malibu on a more intimate level than what you see in the movies.
1. Rent a Car
I hear that some people aren’t aware that you need to have a car when visiting Malibu, so I’m here to tell you, you do! Malibu is not a very big place but it is spread out along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). There is a bus line that runs through Malibu into Santa Monica, but it takes a while. Having a car will allow you to stop off at different beaches, shopping centers, and restaurants along the coast.
2. Zuma Beach
Zuma is Malibu’s most well-known beach, where the tourists come in flocks to visit. As a local, I appreciate Zuma the most in the early morning and around sunset, after most of the day crowds have departed. It is a nice walk to start at the beginning of the beach (near Trancas Canyon Road) and walk along the water until you hit Point Dume, the big cliff (you can’t miss it). Many people come here to bike along the beach or walk their dogs on the sidewalk path in the parking lot. That lot is paid parking, while street parking is free, so get there early if you want a free spot.
3. Lily’s Cafe
Lily’s is an absolute must! A truly local spot, Lily’s has some of the best Mexican food around. It’s right near Zuma, in the Pavilion’s shopping center off of Heathercliff Road. Insider tip: call and order your food ahead! Lily’s is so busy that if you go straight there and order, you could be waiting up to forty minutes to get your food. I recommend the vegetarian burrito, it’s out of this world!
4. Cross Creek
Cross Creek is one of Malibu’s most popular shopping centers. This is where the paparazzi get their photos of celebrities. It’s undergone many renovations over the years to become as fancy as it is now, with plenty of designer clothing stores and expensive restaurants. It also used to boast Malibu’s only movie theatre until September 2017 when it closed after 45 years of business. If you’re looking for a great lunch spot, go to Café Habana. If you want to hit the beach, just cross the street and go to Malibu Lagoon.
5. Pepperdine University
Pepperdine is Malibu’s private university, with around 7,800 students on an 830-acre campus. The campus is incredibly beautiful and sits on a hill overlooking the ocean. The sunset views are to die for! They have guarded security gates at the entrances, but it is possible to drive inside and park so you can see the campus. There are always cultural events going on there (museums or plays at their theatre) so you can enter under the pretense of attending those even if you are just going to see the campus. Be careful where you park, though, because there are many meter maids perusing the streets! Pepperdine is also right across the street from Malibu Bluff’s Park, which is has a little baseball field, playground, and walking path with some more great views of Point Dume.
6. Paradise Cove
Most Malibuians probably wouldn’t approve of me saying that Paradise Cove is not only my favorite restaurant in Malibu, but in the whole world, because it has become too touristy in recent years. In spite of that, Paradise Cove is uniquely wonderful for all it has to offer. Warning: it is expensive. For some reason Yelp has it at $$, I would argue $$$. This is partly to do with the fact that parking (without being validated) costs $35. In the summer, Paradise Cove’s busiest time, PCH will be full of cars parked on both sides of the street and people walking nearly a mile to avoid paying that parking fee. Beach access is free, but the restaurant takes up a good majority of the space, so if you want in on the fun, you have to pay. PC has delicious drinks (try the mango boba slush!) and incredible food (the BBQ Shrimp Quesadilla will change your life). Their portion sizes are enormous, and if it happens to be your birthday, you’ll get a gigantic piece of chocolate cake to share. The restaurant is on the beach, palm trees swaying, ocean breezing. It’s my favorite place to go with my family when I’m visiting Malibu.
Come Visit Malibu!
There is much more to do in Malibu than I have mentioned herein, but these are some of my favorites. If you are in to hiking, there are exceptional hiking paths both in Malibu and off Kanan Road, which is the highway that connects Malibu to the 101 Freeway. There are great surfing spots as well, and plenty of friendly locals who could direct you to their preferred places.
Malibu is a serene place full of genuinely nice people. It isn’t all about wealth and glamour. People are family-oriented and deeply involved in the community. Everybody knows each other! If you do visit, be respectful of the locals and enjoy our town to the fullest.
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We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.