When most people think of a trip to L.A., a bustling city with lots of traffic is likely to come to mind. And while that may be the case for downtown Los Angeles, just west of the city is the not so hidden gem of Malibu.
Home to 21 miles of coastline and nearly three dozen beaches it's no wonder countless celebrities call this city home. While on our recent sister trip to California, we made sure to dedicate one whole day to exploring this coastline paradise. Since we were staying in Santa Monica it was only a quick 20 minute drive with lots to see and do. In addition to the activities listed below, you can opt for a more adventurous afternoon with trails that weave through canyons, waterfalls and grasslands in the Santa Monica Mountains.
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The first stop of our morning was to explore the iconic Malibu Pier which was built in 1905 and is the definition of coastal charm. Be sure to get there early to secure a free parking spot along the side of the road. Otherwise you can expect to pay $15 for the pier lot or $10 for a lot across the street which is what we chose. Stroll down the pier and watch for surfers, dolphins, or the occasional celebrity sighting. If you came hungry you can dine at the insta-worthy Malibu Farm which features seated dining at the oceanside patio as well as full service bar with fresh juice cocktails, beer, and wine. At the end of the pier you'll find Malibu Farm Cafe which is a more relaxed style dining atmosphere with counter service and rooftop seating. If you've already ate like we had, it's still worth grabbing a drink or fresh smoothie at Malibu Farm (the papaya smoothie was so yummy!)
The pier also features some adorable boutique shops including a natural jewelry shop in an airstream camper. We were visiting in February which wasn't ideal beach weather but in the warmer months you can also access the beach and and rent SUPs from the Malibu Surf Shack.
We stumbled upon the Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch sort of by accident on the way to our afternoon activity but I'm so glad we did. This place is SO dreamy and I highly recommend dedicating more time to spend here. Their outdoor space offers a full service restaurant as well as a number of different seating areas and outdoor games such as pool, chess, and Jenga. You'll also find paddle boats, livestock, trails to explore and more. Of course you can't forget about the many insta-worthy photo ops including the Howdy! sign when you walk in and the We Love U lighted sign found in the lawn. Even if you don't have plans to eat this is such a cool space to enjoy a glass of wine and relax in the west coast sun. You will need to valet park in order to get in ($9 for 2 1/2 hours or $14 all day) and they accept both cash and card.
Malibu Wine Safari
This was the main reason we originally planned a day in Malibu and it was SO worth it! Located on the 1,100 acre Saddle Rock Ranch and vineyard nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains this is so much more than a wine tasting experience. Once you check in you'll climb aboard your open-air safari vehicle and head to your first stop on the tour - to meet the star of the show Stanley the giraffe! Stanley is a retired Hollywood actor and has starred in multiple commercials and movies such as the Hangover. There is a tour option that doesn't have a giraffe stop but you'll still get to pass by and get to wave hello. I was a little disappointed that we weren't allowed to feed him ourselves but there was still plenty of time for photos.
Next up we stopped for our first wine tasting and had a chance to explore the grounds while sampling three different white wines at our own pace. Our guides were so knowledgeable about both the animals and the wine and made the experience that much more enjoyable. After filling up our glass with our favorite wine from the flight, we loaded back up in our vehicle and were off to meet more animals including Marty and Zeebrina the zebras, Kendrick Llamar and Michelle O'Llama the llamas as well as donkeys and water buffalos. Continuing on the tour we made another stop for a red wine tasting paired with a cheese and cracker flight. The total tour lasts around two hours and ends back at the main parking lot. You can also book a Malibu wine hike or their newest surf and hike experience.
Malibu Wine and Beer Garden
Are you sensing a theme for our day? If you can't get enough of the Saddlerock label wine from your safari tour, head to Malibu Wine and Beer Garden in West Hills for another tasting experience. Here you can enjoy wine and regional craft beer as well as wood fire pizza from Two Doughs on the weekends. Guests are welcome to bring in their own prepared or picnic food or have food delivered from a local restaurant. While most of the tables require a reservation and minimum purchase, there is plenty of lawn space available as well as a trolley with seating inside. Don't forget to snap a picture with the large wine and beer statues and lighted trees in the middle of the garden! Valet cash-only ($6) parking is available required when visiting on weekends.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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