Malibu Pier at sunset in Malibu, California

72 Hours in Malibu: Where to Shop, Dine, and Explore

With its world-renowned beaches, mountainous backdrop, and salty ocean air, Malibu is primed for relaxing long-weekend retreats. But despite the laid-back vibe it’s known for, there’s no shortage of things to do in the ‘Bu.

Make the most of a three-day escape with an itinerary filled with the best outdoor excursions, wellness experiences, dining, and shopping in the area—and of course, time built in to savor the serenity that makes Malibu such a special destination.

Day One

A shot of Malibu Pier from Carbon Beach in Malibu, California

Centrally located just off the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Beach Inn is the perfect jumping-off point for everything the beachside enclave has to offer. After checking in, start your getaway by heading to Malibu Pier, just a five-minute walk from Malibu Beach Inn.

Adjacent to the aptly named Surfrider Beach, Malibu Pier marks the eastern boundary of the world’s first surf reserve, so it’s the perfect spot to watch adventurous souls catch waves (or at least, try to). On the pier itself, you’ll also likely spot saltwater fishing, another popular pastime in Malibu.

Make your way to the end of the pier and you’ll find Ranch at the Pier, an eclectic (yet chic) two-story shop filled with unique knick-knacks and gifts. While you’re down there, stop by Malibu Farm Café for a casual lunch. An offshoot of the acclaimed Malibu Farm restaurant located at the start of the pier, the counter-service spot features simply delicious fare from founder Helene Henderson’s, well, Malibu farm.

After lunch (and maybe a cold glass of rosé), spend the afternoon at one of Malibu’s signature beaches. If you can snag a spot on the sand next to the pier, head right down to busy Surfrider Beach. Or, if you’re looking for space to take a long stroll with your toes in the sand, head about nine miles west to Zuma Beach, one of the largest beaches in Los Angeles County. For a more secluded experience (that requires a bit of a hike down), venture a little further to find the picturesque El Matador State Beach, known for its dramatic rock formations, tide pools, and caves.

Continue admiring Malibu’s magnificent ocean vistas through the evening with a dining experience at Carbon Beach Club Restaurant. Featuring locally sourced coastal cuisine and an exceptional wine list, Malibu Beach Inn’s signature restaurant offers both breathtaking views and enticing seasonal menus. Crafted by Chef Ryan Caldwell, who will be cooking alongside world-famous Chef Morimoto at Pebble Beach Food & Wine in April, showcases the best of land and sea with his inventive dishes.

Day Two

A woman does a meditative pose on the beach

Rise early and breathe in the ocean air during a 50-minute Vinyasa flow on Carbon Beach, offered daily at 8am to guests at Malibu Beach Inn. With the added element of balancing on sand, the class will both challenge your body and restore your mind.

Stop back at Carbon Beach Club for breakfast (or relax with in-room dining), then make your way to the Getty Villa to for a dose of ancient history and stunning architecture. Inspired by the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum in Italy, the grounds transport you to an ornate Roman oasis right in Southern California. The villa itself houses an educational center on the arts and culture of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria, along with a captivating collection of artifacts.

Following your artistic immersion at the Getty Villa, indulge in a different kind of cultural experience: lunch at Nobu. A coveted lunchtime reservation offers a clear view of the glistening Pacific (and maybe a celebrity or two)—not to mention, chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s exquisite Japanese cuisine, from top-grade sashimi to miso cod.

Spend the afternoon wandering one-of-a-kind luxury boutiques and art galleries at nearby Malibu Country Mart, the area’s go-to shopping destination. (It’s another familiar haunt for Malibu celebrities.)

For dinner, Malibu has no shortage of options: Stick around Malibu Country Mart for dinner at local Greek favorite Taverna Tony, opt for classic Italian comforts at Tramonto Bistro, or dine on steak and seafood back at Carbon Beach Club.

Day Three

The exterior of Malibu Seafood in Malibu, California

Photo: total 13 via Flickr  / CC BY

After day two’s culture- and shopping-packed schedule, set your sights on a day connecting with nature and relaxing to the sounds of the ocean.

In the morning, partake in a classic Malibu pastime with one of the area’s many hikes, including Solstice Canyon (a relatively flat hike through Malibu ruins), Escondido Falls (a slightly more moderate hike that leads to a three-tier waterfall), or Sycamore Canyon (a more challenging hike that rewards you with spectacular ocean views at the peak).

For would-be equestrians, horseback riding is another popular Malibu activity, thanks to scenic beach and mountain views. Trail rides are offered by establishments including Connemara Ranch and Malibu Riders. Or, for an outdoor activity closer to Malibu Beach Inn, head across the street to Malibu Surf Shack, an area icon that offers kayak and surfboard rentals as well as lessons.

To refuel after an action-packed morning, stop for lunch at the delightfully laid-back Malibu Seafood. This casual mainstay on the Pacific Coast Highway is rarely without a line (especially on the weekends), but with fresh-caught fish and chips and chowder on the menu, it’s worth the wait.

After lunch, wind down with an afternoon of pampering at Veronica Skin & Body Care at Malibu Beach Inn. Soothe sore muscles with a Swedish or hot stone massage, or indulge in a skin-revitalizing oxygen facial.

Cap off your weekend with another dinner at Carbon Beach Club. Dine al fresco and cozy up with a wool blanket to enjoy a spectacular sunset and toast to a rejuvenating 72 hours in Malibu.

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