There’s a 27-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway that dips and rises, drops then peaks, allowing its riders both the feeling of being enveloped in the coastal cliffs and the exhilaration of cruising above the endlessly blue and shimmering Pacific. Malibu, California is only 30 miles from the bustling downtown LA, and myriad movie stars, Hollywood elites, and affluent Angelinos are lucky enough to call its beaches and bluffs home. With a Mediterranean climate and breathtaking estates sprinkled across its hills, Malibu manages to make an average day feel like a holiday.
So, when you wake up early on a day off in Los Angeles and are wondering over your morning coffee how to best soak up your daily dose of Vitamin D, why not head to “The ‘Bu”?
Kickstart your morning with a healthy sweat
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or more of a nature-walker, the hills of Malibu provide a medley of trails to suit your style. Each hike has its draws, but when I want a moderate challenge and impressive panoramas, the Los Leones Trail is my top pick. This 7.2-mile hike starts in the Pacific Palisades and winds through Topanga State Park. Relatively graded, judiciously shaded, and beautifully lush, the coastal-canyon trek summits at 1,525 feet, and the ultimate view of the sprawling coast makes it so worth the sweat. You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you find a lone bench; sit, stretch, meditate, or just absorb the awe-inspiring vista. You’ve earned it!
Malibu Farm is a full-service restaurant and bar at the start of the iconic Malibu Pier. To best appreciate its prime real-estate, I opt to sit outside on the patio, stilted above the waves as they crash on the sandy shore. With something for everyone’s taste, the menu takes advantage of local, fresh produce, and each item comes out of the kitchen impeccably presented and reliably delicious.
One of my favorites on the menu is the Cauliflower-Crust “Pizza” – it has just the right amount of pesto and mozzarella spread atop a perfectly crispy crust. The Chicken-Broccoli Quesadilla and Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad are two other must-orders if you’re looking for shareable starters. Or, if you want something a bit more substantial after burning calories on your morning hike, the Breaded Mustard Chicken Sandwich offers juicy chicken breast breaded ever-so-lightly in a hint-of-mustard breadcrumb mix, topped with tomato, arugula, red onion, and tomato aioli.
Care to imbibe? The General Manager, David Shoham, is also the Bar Manager and has crafted some signature cocktails just for this ocean-side eatery. Leading my list are the “Watermelon” – mixing cucumber-infused vodka, watermelon and lime juices, and organic agave; the “Coconut” – featuring toasted coconut-infused rum, coconut agave, and fresh pineapple juice; the “Smoke” – blending mescal, shishito peppers, chipotle agave, and freshly squeezed lime juice; and the “Jalapeno” – balancing Uno Dos Tres organic tequila blanco, jalapeño agave, and lime juice. Special shout-out to the Jalapeno cocktail, as it allows for the awesome flavor of this popular pepper without too much of the heat. And the best part? The agave syrup used in these masterpieces is made in-house! Or, maybe you’re feeling like a chilled glass of wine, instead; I recommend the crisp and dry Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Yum! www.malibu-farm.com
Taster’s Tip: The Malibu Farm Café, a sister site to the restaurant and bar, is located at the opposite end of the same pier!
Catch the sunset
If you’re looking for a change of scenery after your meal (although, you’ll probably never want to leave your cozy, ocean-front seat!) and a taste of the grapes of the coast, Malibu Wines is an ideal final destination from which to watch the sun go down over the Pacific.
The Malibu Wines Tasting Room is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and offers two labels of wines: Semler and Saddlerock. Choose whether to take part in a tasting flight or indulge in a full bottle; either way, sip your wine on this estate’s vast lawn or at one of the rustic tables provided. Outside food is allowed, so if you’re still peckish after your bite at the Farm, stop by the Malibu Country Mart on your way for some snacks to graze on while you drink.
As you soak up the last moments of daylight, drinking your fermented grape of choice and listening to the rocking live music (it never disappoints!), you’ll wonder why you didn’t find a way to make all those other ordinary days before into extraordinary ones; and, you’ll already be planning your next unforgettable day spent in Malibu.
*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage
More about California? Read Shea’s tips about hidden gem Marina Del Rey: