There are plenty of reasons to visit Malibu. The problem is, there’s too much to do and see to cover everything in just one day. It’s not a bad problem to have—and you’ll have a blast trying. With the help of this itinerary, you can experience most of Malibu’s highlights in a single day!
Things to Do in Malibu
Malibu is a hub of outdoor adventure as well as urban luxury. Start your trip with a combination of gorgeous beaches and invigorating hikes before drinking and dining downtown! Contact a travel advisor to learn more about Malibu attractions!
Visit the Beach
If you’re spending a day in Malibu, you’re probably looking forward to the beaches. Rest assured that they are everything you’ve heard and more. Make your Malibu day trip a memorable one with some of the most famous stretches of sand in the world. These options are free, although there may be a small fee for parking.
Zuma is a nearly two-mile beach that’s popular with families, couples, and adventure-seekers for a number of reasons. Its crisp white surf and crystal clear waters attract beachgoers seeking an active day of surfing or volleyball as well as families spending an afternoon in the sun. Zuma is a must-see if you want your Malibu day trip to include a classic California beach. Parking here is readily available with Zuma’s large public lot.
El Matador Beach
El Matador is an ideal sightseers’ beach and a memorable way to spend part of your Malibu day trip. Accessing El Matador is a bit tricky and demands one put aside any fear they have of heights. But navigating the long staircases down to this hidden and quiet beach is worth it for most. Despite its popularity, El Matador is rarely crowded and an incredible location for your crew to take unique and memorable photos. Breathtaking scenes on El Matador include caves, towering rock formations, and seaside bluffs. The caves are only accessible on foot during low tide, so you might plan your stop here to align with the day’s low tide.
Take a Hike
If you’re looking for outdoor fun onshore, you’ve got plenty of choices in Malibu. See the beautiful views up close and discover hidden paradises tucked within the region’s miles of hikeable trails. The Malibu area is home to diverse ecosystems and habitats for hiking experiences you’ll want to return for!
Tucked into the nearby Santa Monica Mountains is a scenic hiking trail offering the chance to stretch your legs and get some fresh air during your Malibu day trip. Solstice Canyon provides several moderate difficulty hiking options including the Rising Sun Trail and the Solstice Canyon Trail which together make up approximately 3 miles of hiking. If you’re traveling from the western or northern portion of the state, hop onto scenic Highway 1 to drive right past the entrance to Solstice. This hike is a great way to occupy 90 minutes of your day in Malibu and is the least crowded in the early to mid-morning. Solstice Canyon doesn’t allow biking but dogs are permitted, as long as they are leashed.
The 1226-foot Mugu Peak attracts avid hikers seeking stunning panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the pristine Channel Islands just off Malibu’s coastline. A stop at Mugu Peak fits nicely into any Malibu day trip itinerary as is one of several scenic attractions just off of Highway 1. The short but moderate difficulty Chumash Trail takes just about an hour and is great for a sunrise or sunset view on a clear day.
See Malibu’s Sights
After you’ve finished at the beach, explore what’s within and just outside Malibu’s city limits. Malibu is on a revered section of the California coastline that attracts thousands of tourists every year, as well as the rich and famous who make their homes here. You might just see a few of these luxurious beach houses during a tour!
Malibu is a seaside city and to experience it at its fullest you’ll want to book one of its many highly rated boat tours. Rent a yacht to indulge in luxury or encounter Malibu’s local marine life with a glass-bottom boat expedition. Witness majestic whales, affable dolphins, and captivating sharks on a marine safari. Or spend the afternoon cruising past Malibu landmarks, posing for fun photos and relaxing amidst gentle waves with sightseeing tours that include lunch with a side of coastal breezes and Pacific surf.
If land tours are more your speed, Malibu has you covered. Get a taste of Malibu living with driving tours that stop at all the hottest spots. See the estates and beach houses of numerous Hollywood stars in addition to natural attractions known the world over. Or, hit Highway 1 with a self-guided audio tour taking you through Monterey, Big Sur, and Carmel.
Malibu has long been a haven for the rich and famous and you can get a taste of celebrity life with your Malibu day trip. In addition to stopping at famous celebrity hangouts all around town, Malibu’s celebrity tours also show you a day in the life of the area’s current and past famous residents. The highlight of these tours is undoubtedly the route that takes you by celebrity homes, including those of A-list Hollywood stars.
Corral Canyon, Alumni Park, and Grape Arbor Park are all within driving distance of Malibu’s city center. Feature horseback riding, secluded beaches, and miles of open green expanse for athletics and a lively walk in the park. Malibu Bluffs Park features a number of adventures including hikes like surfing, wildlife viewing, and even pickleball!
Sample the Malibu Lifestyle
Locals know Malibu has loads of high quality wine and food catering to a range of tastes. And when the sun goes down, you can toast to an amazing day with Malibu’s heart-pumping nightlife.
Malibu is a center of California culture and its restaurants don’t fall short of this high bar. The city’s coastal location makes seafood an easy choice here but there are plenty of other options as well.
Taco huts, burger joints, and steakhouses are all on offer in Malibu. Often on the cutting edge of food trends, Malibu has a number of fast casual-style Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired eateries. Breakfast places are also big here, with huge portions you might think are more customary in other regions of the country. Hit the road early enough on your Malibu day trip for a breakfast or brunch spot, or choose one that’s open all day!
Raise a glass for the bevy of notable wineries in and around the Malibu area catering to single travelers and large groups. Enjoy the hospitality of palatial vineyards welcoming guests for a variety of gatherings and events open to the public. Wine tastings typically feature exclusive California vintages. Activities include live music, farm-to-table meals, and winery tours on horseback.
In addition to its restaurants, downtown Malibu has an exciting nightlife. Wine bars, dance clubs, and upscale lounges line its downtown streets. If your trip extends into the evening, head to any one of these adult establishments for an inspired cocktail, rousing conversion, and stunning ocean views. Malibu bars are known for their high-energy atmosphere, impeccable presentation, and interior themes. Enjoy good times at local garden bars, speakeasies, and beach cafes to end your Malibu day trip.