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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.