With a crop of new beach hotels open and humming, the storied celebrity enclave is California's hottest weekend getaway.
Malibu farm and retail gurus Alice Bamford and Ann Eysenring of One Gun Ranch design an ideal escape.
Start your weekend by heading into the coastal mountains to get a little more down-to-earth at Serra Retreat, a 26-acre Franciscan-run sanctuary that nurtures Malibu's spiritual side. The public is welcome to stroll the grounds for personal prayer and meditation from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and by reservations on weekends.
For a bracing breakfast, snag a seat on the terrace at Malibu Beach Inn's Carbon Beach Club Restaurant. Watch for dolphins and seals while tucking into biodynamic produce from CBC's hyper-seasonal menu, including the colorful Grain & Egg Salad Bowl featuring black quinoa, purple Okinawan potatoes, and leafy greens.
Bamford and Eysenring call the burritos and huevos rancheros at Lily's Malibu the best in town. (They're also partial to the chilaquiles with chicken.) A local favorite for more than 15 years, the colorful little spot near Zuma Beach stays true to Lily Castro's desire to create Latin-inspired cuisine with fresh ingredients and bold seasonings.
It's OK: Go ahead and Instagram that vintage sign. But then get yourself out to the end of historic Malibu Pier for some surfer and paddleboarder spectating. Take a break from the sun (and upgrade your retail game) with a stop at Ranch at the Pier—One Gun Ranch's bright, white-walled version of a trading post (if a trading post had only beautiful things in it). Don't miss the Malibu mementos, tonics, and organic spa products.
Hit the Water
Book expeditions to kite surf, fish, or go dolphin- and whale-watching at the Surf Room inside Ranch at the Pier. For a more cinematic (not to mention leisurely) excursion, inquire about chartering a chic, retro-style wooden boat or the Surfrider Motor Yacht.
Nature Break 1
Zuma Canyon Orchids is a family-run nursery with greenhouses of colorful blooms, and one of Bamford and Eysenring's favorite spots for both orchid shopping and enjoying the lush grounds. Visiting anyone in Malibu? The staff will put together an arrangement that will make you everyone's favorite guest.
Nature Break 2
There may be nothing more Malibu than a canyon hike followed by an ocean swim. Head to Solstice Canyon for an easy hike past ruins to a lush, waterfall-fed oasis. Then hit Leo Carrillo State Park's all-but-secret hideaway Staircase Beach, or insider favorite El Matador State Beach for an undisturbed dip in the water.
Sushi at Sunset
At Nobu Malibu, nearly every seat in the sleek, wood-paneled room has an ocean view and a glimpse of those spectacular Pacific sunsets. The sakes here are exclusive to Nobu in the United States: Sip your varietal of choice from a traditional masu box, and sample sashimi dishes from off the menu—just ask your server for suggestions.
Get a taste of the wild West with a drive up into the hills to The Old Place, a former country store and post office straight out of a John Wayne classic. Fill up on steamed clams, grilled chicken, and a fully loaded baked potato. Need to wait for your table? Fear not: There's a winery located right next door.
On Sunday mornings, Malibu Farmers Market is the place to be. Pick up organic avocados and prickly pears (both favorites of Bamford and Eysenring), and stop by the market's Lebanese stand for a falafel salad. To score some One Gun Ranch produce, head to the town's other farmers' market, at the end of Malibu Pier.
WATCH: 15-Second Escape to Malibu, California
From daily morning yoga classes on the beach to the neutral-toned, hyggeesque interiors, boutique Malibu Beach Inn (a member of The Leading Hotels of the World) leads visitors—and even strung-out Angelenos—to waterfront bliss. Each of the 47 rooms has a balcony overlooking Carbon Beach, and most have a fireplace for warming up after a dip in the ocean. Rates start at $595.