It can be fun to plan for a vacation, especially a Malibu, California Vacation. It can be fun to scour travel magazines and customer ratings websites to pack a schedule full of every amusement available.
But one of the joys of Malibu is that it doesn’t need that level of planning. That’s what makes it a staycation favorite for Californians; if you need a place to escape and recharge for a weekend, you can get in the car, arrive with no notice, and have a break without worrying about reservations.
What does that look like? Here’s a full weekend that requires no reservations, beyond a room here at the Malibu Beach Inn.
4:00 p.m. – Check in at Malibu Beach Inn and immediately hit the sand. There may be no better way to ease into a weekend vacation than watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Have a stroll from here to the Malibu Pier and Malibu Lagoon State Beach, or head east on Carbon Beach, past beautiful surfside homes. Consider this the reset: now, you’re moving at Malibu’s pace.
6:00 p.m. – The Carbon Beach Club allows you to maintain that widescreen ocean vista while also enjoying a menu of favorites like miso-honey glazed salmon and steak and frites. Best of all, as a hotel guest you can let the concierge handle any reservations; you just have to decide whether to sit outside overlooking the ocean watching the sunset, or inside cozying up to the fire.
7:00 a.m. – Geoffrey Chaucer once wrote, “time and tide wait for no man.” Though the English poet’s life preceded the founding of Malibu by a few centuries, we can still only presume he was talking about surfing here. You’ll see many locals out on the waves earlier in the day, both to beat later-arriving crowds and to take advantage of lighter offshore winds. If you are looking into taking a water activities lesson, Malibu Beach Inn partners with eFoil so you can take exciting flite-board lessons.
11:00 a.m. – The key to surfer food is portability, and Lily’s breakfast burrito fits the role perfectly. Walk into the Latin-inspired bakery and get the combination of egg, potatoes, protein, cheese, and salsa for a post-wave meal to go, then walk across the street to Zuma Beach for a snack with a view.
1:00 p.m.: On average, Malibu gets more than 275 days of sunshine per year. It should be no surprise, then, that most of the town’s shopping centers are open-air. A few favorites: Malibu Country Mart features an eclectic mix of big-name brands (John Varvatos, Brandy Melville) and local boutiques. Trancas Country Market is a local favorite, thanks to its mix of retail and services and its rustic architecture. And for off-the-beaten-path stores, Topanga Center (just a few miles up Topanga Canyon Boulevard) is a gem, with an art gallery, a performing space, and even a pizza parlor (with a record shop inside) alongside crafts-centric retail.
6:00 p.m. – Neptune’s Net is one of the most iconic Malibu restaurants, thanks to its appearances in films like “Point Break,” “Iron Man 3,” and even one of the movies in the Fast & Furious franchise. But even though it’s a tourist magnet, it’s still a great place for fresh seafood (the best fish tacos and clam chowder) with the best surf-watching views. Check out the motorcycles in the front parking lot (it’s a favorite stop for bikers traversing the Pacific Coast Highway) or get your food to go, cross the road to County Line Beach, and find a bench for a stunning sunset view.
11:00 a.m. – When it’s – sadly – time to check out at the Inn, take the drive back through Malibu and up into the hills to the Malibu Café. Located at Calamigos Ranch, it’s less restaurant and more backyard cookout, thanks to its picnic-table seating, wide lawn, and games. It’s also a great chance to explore a bit of the Santa Monica mountains, with short nature walks and access to longer trails.
2:00 p.m. – If that taste of the outdoors isn’t enough to satiate, an afternoon hike is a great way to keep the “Sunday scaries” at bay. There are multiple trailheads along the canyon roads; Solstice Canyon is a favorite, in part because of the variety of trail difficulties. For those who need a reward at the end of a walk, Saddleback Ranch has hikes that end with tastings of local wines – and you’ll still be able to get back to your car after.