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Malibu, California and a Perfect Day’s Vacation

Many towns in Southern California have certain reputations, and these stereotypes often inform Los Angeles-area travel plans. For those of us who live here, of course, the picture is often totally different. My tween didn’t have school this past week, but since my younger kid did, we couldn’t take too grand an adventure (apparently, the school system frowns upon parents not picking their children up from school). My daughter and I drove up for a day trip to Malibu, and did several activities before returning home.

Malibu is considered the first real surfing destination in the Los Angeles area – it’s no Half Moon Bay, of course, but it’s pretty good for Southern California. We went to Zuma Beach, and there we saw one solitary, sad little surfer. Maybe the waves weren’t rad this particular day! My tween took most of these photographs, by the way, and she was more interested in the cute sandpipers busily running up and down the shore than she was that surfer dude.

shorebird at Zuma Beach in Malibu CA

Malibu has that mellow surfer culture in spades, of course, but there’s also a seriously swanky side to this beachy community. Lots of media moguls live here, and where there’s money, the luxury shops shall follow. There are a bunch of high-end stores in the Malibu Country Mart and beyond. In fact, one of my favorite sushi restaurants, Nobu Malibu, is in this shopping area. No, we did NOT go there for lunch! We did, however, indulge in a little mother-daughter shopping splurge.

Luxury Shops at Malibu Country Mart (malibucountrymart.com)

Malibu Shopping Luxury Stores Malibu Hammer Statue

We went to Duke’s for lunch. There are Duke’s in Maui and Kauai, so it was fun to come to this one and compare. My tween thought the coconut shrimp was exactly the same, but I felt that the Hawaii style dresses and uniforms seemed out of place. It is winter now, so the whales are goofing off around Hawaii, but the windows in Duke’s in Malibu give great views of the humpbacks as they migrate to and from the South Pacific.

Duke's Restaurant in Malibu, California

The northern coastal tip of Malibu has one of those perfect beaches for exploring; Leo Carrillo State Park Beach is rocky, with small caves that can only be accessed during low tide. My kid and I had the best time wandering along the coast here. As an aside, when I was a child myself, my whole family was in a commercial for Tang that was filmed at Leo Carrillo State Park Beach. Little did I know then, that I’d be living within driving distance of it as a parent.

Leo Carillo State Park Beach in Southern California

My daughter found one of the largest limpets I’ve seen outside of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. We’d bought a fancy hair clip for her at the Malibu Country Mart, and I’d spent more on a pair of sunglasses there than I usually do – but this limpet, maybe 6 inches long, sun-bleached and almost alien-looking, was hands down the best find of the day.

Beach Seashell Southern California

In fact, she made a necklace out of it when we came home, and wears it still, today. Rather than rush through our day trip and also see the Getty Villa, horse stables and pretty Malibu Gardens (it’s a nursery that looks like a luscious backyard), we took it slow. Enjoying each others’ company, strolling on a beach together, and discussing how a found shell can be more exciting, memorable and valuable than a bought hair accessory – these are the details that make up a perfect day’s vacation in Southern California.

seashell from day trip to Malibu

Malibu Romantic Travel

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20 Responses to “Malibu, California and a Perfect Day’s Vacation”

  1. 1
    Jillian says:

    Hi SoCalGal,

    I just had coffee with Kara a few days ago and admire you girls for creating such an informative and fun website.

    I used to visit Malibu, when I was an extremely lonely girl living in Los Angeles, and once got invited into one of those beautiful beach homes by a very friendly man who was walking the beach with his two beautiful wolf hounds. My wild side withdrew and I decided to pass on that one for fear that I might become a statistic.

    Your daughter is adorable and takes wonderful photos. My ten year old is also a blooming photographer. It’s so easy to let them practice these days without the expense of film!

    Thanks for sharing, I would do anything to be enveloped by the warm, tropical sun right now! Although, the snow has finally arrived and we are all elated. Ask Kara!

  2. 2

    Oh.. How I wish I’m in Malibu right now. We missed out on Malibu during our quick jaunt to South CA last year. We definitely have to plan a trip to go back.

  3. 3
    ColoradoGal says:

    Nice job on the photos SoCalKid! :-)

    And I learned a new word today: limpet.

  4. 4
    MarthaandMe says:

    Oh, I would love to visit Malibu. All I ever really knew about it was that stars had homes there. Thanks for sharing some info about it.

  5. 5
    Frugal Kiwi says:

    Wow, that is a HUGE limpet. We don’t get them that size here in NZ that I’ve seen. Not by a long shot. Great photos!

  6. 6
    Jennifer Margulis says:

    Sounds like you had a great time in Malibu. I like the photo of your daughter best. It’s so nice to travel with just one child and get to spend time together exploring a new place!

  7. 7

    Such a lovely trip away with your daughter! I hope to do some fun things like that when baby girl gets older.

    I’ve never been to Malibu, but it sounds lovely!

  8. 8
    sheryl says:

    I was in Malibu about five years ago – it is so beautiful. But it’s across the country for me. You are so very lucky to be able to just pick up and go to a place like this!

  9. 9

    Absolutely lovely, and you are right to treasure these little moments. Congrats to your daughter on the photos, too. Well done all around, mom and dtr.

  10. 10
    Susan says:

    Love the photos, especially the one of the limpet. Sounds like you ladies had fun!

  11. 11
    Arlene says:

    I am heading out to California this summer to have a little reunion with a few on my childhood friends. We haven’t decided exactly where yet, but this looked fun. Your daughter is just lovely.

  12. 12

    This sounds wonderful. I’ve eaten at Duke’s on Maui – but now I’m wishing I’d had the coconut shrimp. That sounds good right now! Great pictures.

  13. 13
    Judy says:

    Loved the story. Wish I could have been there with you!

  14. 14
    Christine says:

    What a great story, and fantastic photos!

  15. 15
    Donna Hull says:

    Your daughter takes excellent photos, congratulations. I enjoyed reading about your mother-daughter trip, even though it was a short one.

  16. 16
    Inspiring Travel – March Monthly Roundup | Sharing Travel Experiences: Travel More | Travel Concierge Services, Experiences, Recommendations, and Inspirational Stories says:

    [...] from the Vacation Gals suggest Malibu as a perfect day to spend your vacation while in Southern California. It certainly looks pretty [...]

  17. 17

    There isn’t a way to revive ourselves than spending some time in the lap of the nature. I think that it would be a very good thing that would indeed be just set the tone for the week and makes you raring to go. I go on a vacation just once a year and the most number of times I have been at is Florence. The beautiful landscapes, the rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture make me coming back to this place.

  18. 18
    Jane says:

    Hi there Vacation Gals!
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Malibu to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon…would love to work with you!
    Jane

  19. 19

    [...] and Point Dume all dot PCH amid beach houses and spots made famous on various television shows. My favorite Malibu Beach though, is Leo Carillo State Park Beach. It’s the northernmost of Malibu’s beaches, [...]

  20. 20

    […] and Point Dume all dot PCH amid beach houses and spots made famous on various television shows. My favorite Malibu Beach though, is Leo Carillo State Park Beach. It’s the northernmost of Malibu’s beaches, […]

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