As if breathtaking coastal beauty and quintessential Southern California vibes weren’t alluring enough reasons to make Malibu your next vacation destination, the beachside city also abounds with activities and attractions for the entire family.
Add to that the luxe accommodations at Malibu Beach Inn, and the ‘Bu offers a perfect setting for creating memories with loved ones that last a lifetime. From beach time to mealtime and all the fun in between, here’s what to expect from a delightful family escape to Malibu.
Hit the Beach
A paradise for ocean lovers, Malibu’s 27-mile coastline boasts no less than 36 beaches, with each one bearing unique characteristics of its own. Between wide, inviting swaths of white sand to picturesque rocky shores, there’s a beach to match every family member’s personality.
Directly in Malibu Beach Inn’s backyard is Carbon Beach, where visitors can dip their toes in the Pacific or relax in a hotel lounge chair while listening to the crashing surf. Recreationally minded families shouldn’t miss the famous Surfrider Beach (just a five-minute walk west), where they can rent a paddleboard to ply through the waves or learn to surf in one of California’s most iconic spots with the help of a local instructor.
Speaking of iconic settings, movie buffs in the household may be pleased to discover that Point Dume and its adjacent beaches have served as the backdrops for many TV shows and movies, including scenes from Iron Man and the original Planet of the Apes movie. Those interested in wildlife can also hike to the Dume’s overlook for the chance to spot seals, sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins, as well as whales during their December to May migrations.
To discover prime beach-combing conditions, head to El Matador State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Park, two spectacular public areas featuring sea caves and craggy rock formations. During low tide, look for marine life amid each one’s scattering of small pools.
Of all of Malibu’s singular shorelines, Zuma Beach is perhaps the best suited for family units, especially those with younger members. Not only does Zuma offer public amenities like bathrooms, showers, food stands, volleyball nets, and ample parking, but its 12 lifeguard towers and mellower waves provide an ideal environment for those just getting their feet wet with watersports.
Grab a Bite
Fortunately for hungry guests, an exquisite seaside meal is close at hand in Malibu Beach Inn’s Carbon Beach Club restaurant, which boasts a stunning ocean view terrace. Highlighting locally sourced ingredients from land and sea, CBC’s offerings rotate seasonally and include an enticing kid’s menu.
Malibu is home to plenty of memorable dining experiences beyond the hotel, too, including an opportunity to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner directly on the beach at Paradise Cove Beach Café. Wearing flip flops is recommended here, if only to kick them off and shove your toes in the sand while indulging in its award-winning clam chowder, world-famous tacos, and spectacular ocean views. Swing by in the evening to catch a pink-and-gold Pacific sunset while sharing a seafood and meat paella or smokehouse barbeque beach dinner, both served family-style.
At the end of Malibu Pier, Malibu Farm Café uses locally sourced ingredients to serve up health-focused breakfast, salad, and sandwich options. Dine on the roof patio to enjoy sweeping ocean panoramas and flocks of surfers catching waves from the adjacent Surfrider Beach.
For a Hawaiian-style feast in festive surroundings, bring the ohana to Duke’s Malibu, a beloved city staple offering island-inspired fare and a one-of-a-kind keiki (kid’s) menu. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch buffet complete with live Hawaiian music, too.
Learn Something New
Photo: Bobak Ha’Eri via Wikimedia Commons CC / BY
The Malibu area is jam-packed with fun and educational opportunities for all ages, including a colorful and fascinating history for growing minds to enjoy.
Just down the road and easily walkable from the hotel, the Adamson House rises at the edge of Surfrider Beach as a testament to one of the city’s earliest family legacies. The majestic mansion was once a private residence and is now a national and state historical landmark telling a significant chapter of Malibu history.
Surrounded by 100-year-old coral trees, immaculate landscaping, and informative plaques, the Adamson grounds are free to wander, as is its former five-car garage, which now serves as a visitor center displaying numerous artifacts. Visitors can also embark on a docent-led tour of the 89-year-old home’s exquisite interior, featuring themed rooms, original furniture, and astounding Spanish-influenced tile work.
Another opportunity for learning lies just west of the Adamson property, where the Malibu Lagoon’s brackish wetland radiates with natural splendor. In this vibrant coastal marsh, an array of wildlife such as pollinators, insects, fish, and a motley collective of birds can be observed in their native habitat.
Visitors can also head a half-mile further west to find Legacy Park, a crossroads of coastal ecosystems that the city calls “an outdoor living learning center.” Apart from its informational kiosks, learning center, and cultural interpretive center, the park serves as an environmental cleaning machine to improve ocean water quality and public health.
For a one-of-a-kind cultural experience just a short drive from the hotel, visit the Getty Villa, which allows the whole family to step back into the ancient world for a few hours. After arriving, take the group on a leisurely stroll through the Villa’s four distinctly beautiful gardens, each brimming with 1st century Roman architecture and over 300 types of plants in full flourish. The outdoor grounds also feature plenty of public seating areas to soak in the lush scenery and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Inside the museum, kids and adults alike can enjoy an awe-inspiring collection of art spanning from the Stone Age to the collapse of the Roman empire. In addition to rotating exhibitions (like the Palace Art of Ancient Iraq, which runs until September 2022), the Villa also provides the Family Forum, a fun and educational space exploring the topic of ancient Greek vases through hands-on activities.
Play and Explore
Photo: Malibu Country Mart
Malibu’s unique position between mountains and sea is part of what makes it such an ideal destination for outdoor endeavors. The western section of the city is a sprawling Pacific playground suited for all types of watersports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, world-class surfing, fishing from Malibu Pier, and diving expeditions for all abilities.
In the east, the Santa Monica mountains host a plethora of activities for those who like to have fun in the woods, such as guided rock climbing outings and scenic hikes (including many with waterfalls as their main spectacle). The area also includes wonderful vantages of the night sky, ideal for stargazing with the kids after dark.
For cosmopolitan members of the family, Malibu Country Mart is an upscale yet charming outdoor shopping destination showcasing some of the city’s best boutiques, restaurants, and wellness options, as well as a playground centerpiece for little ones. Malibu Bluff Park’s playground is also worth a visit for its climbing wall and elevated ocean views.
After a full slate of family adventures, the group can look forward to unwinding back at Malibu Beach Inn, where a signature cozy, coastal ambiance is the perfect bookend to a memorable day in Malibu.