Malibu, CA


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Malibu is deservedly famous for its 21 miles of spectacular coastline, with beaches that have appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. Although it's pricey and caters to its multi-millionaire residents, Malibu is an ideal destination for visitors who enjoy surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Must see in Malibu
Some of the best beaches in Malibu are Surfrider (as the name implies, it's a top surfing spot), Zuma (familiar to "Baywatch" fans) and dog-friendly Leo Carrillo State Beach. Art lovers should pay a visit to the Getty Villa, which features works from the end of the Stone Age to the start of the Roman Empire (admission is free, but tickets must be purchased in advance; parking is around $15). Mountain and ocean scenery can be enjoyed by taking a drive along any of Malibu's canyon roads.

Where to stay in Malibu
They are expensive, especially in season, but the best places for families and young travelers to stay are the hotels on the ocean side of PCH, with easy access to the beach. For visitors on a budget, there are few hotel deals to be found in Malibu, although rates drop in the fall and winter. More affordable lodging is available in nearby Santa Monica.

Best and worst time to go to Malibu
The best time to visit Malibu is after Labor Day in September, when the tourists have left but it's still warm and sunny. The worst time is summer weekends. Beach parking lots fill up early in the morning and traffic along PCH slows to a crawl (although the view is gorgeous).

Where to get lost in Malibu
A moderately challenging trail from Malibu Creek State Park winds through a rocky creek bed and up a steep canyon, leading to the set of the classic TV series, "M*A*S*H." Several picnic tables are available. Parking is around $12.

The best deal in Malibu
There are plenty of dining options in Malibu, but one of the most fun and least expensive is Neptune's Net, a laid-back, always-crowded fish shack on PCH. Lunch and dinner prices range from about $6 to $20.

Transportation in Malibu
Public transportation in Malibu is pretty much limited to taxis and rideshare services, so it's best to rent a car.

Getting in from LAX
From LAX about 30 miles south, Malibu can be reached by taking Sepulveda Blvd. north to PCH, or the 405 freeway to the 10, which ends on PCH.

Local tip for visitors to Malibu
For years, access to Carbon Beach — aka "Billionaires Beach" — was illegally blocked by wealthy oceanfront homeowners, but a public pathway is now available.

Author's bio: Laura Goldman is a freelance writer and native Angeleno. Follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, i Still Love Dogs.