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Malibu

Explore a fabled beachfront town with real star power

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Stretching for more than 30 miles along the Pacific and Highway One, Malibu has achieved almost mythological status among California beach towns. Hollywood stars and top athletes live in oceanfront homes here, under an elegant veil of privacy on long strands of beach, and enjoy front-row seats for surfing and unforgettable sunsets.

While it may sound exclusive, there is plenty of Malibu magic for visitors to access too. Considered to have some of the most perfect waves anywhere, Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, just off the Malibu Pier, was named the first World Surfing Reserve; nearby Zuma Beach is a sun magnet for locals and families. In winter, Point Dume, at Malibu’s north end, provides an ideal perch for spotting migrating gray whales.

The perfect aesthetics stretch beyond the beach, too. The Getty Villa—the original home of the Getty Museum, which opened in 1974—focuses on Ancient Greek and Roman Art (admission is free, but you need to make a reservation). For more contemporary, beachy masterpieces, check out the 30 historic surfboards on display, some dating back to the 1910s, at the Surf Museum at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library. And for wearable art—and perhaps to spot one of the local celebs—browse the shops at the Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Lumber Yard, two upscale retail centers located next to one another.

Afterward, grab a bite at one of the many eateries along the water. Malibu Farm Restaurant is an organic café and restaurant that sits right on the pier, and Duke’s Malibu, which honors pioneering surfer and Duke Kahanamoku, delivers Hawaiian cuisine along with indoor/outdoor seating and excellent water views. Or browse the fresh catches—and try one of the famed ahi tuna burgers—at Malibu Seafood, right across from Dan Blocker Beach. To spend the night like an insider, get a room at the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn, a former motel located on the so-nicknamed Billionaire’s Beach, which was given its original makeover by Hollywood mogul David Geffen. Or book a stay at The Surfrider Hotel, a 20-room “California beach house”-style getaway just across the street from the famous strip of sand it takes its name from. Originally built in 1953, the Surfrider has evolved from its humble beginnings to a posh sanctuary–complete with a roof deck and farm-to-table restaurant—without losing any of its old-school surf-culture charm.

Tough as it is to drag yourself away from the ocean, head inland a short distance and you can also hike through hills and canyons, filled with spring wildflowers and even waterfalls, on trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. For a cool guided experience, take one of the two-hour Malibu Wine Hikes on the rolling terrain of Saddlerock Ranch vineyard; walks include stops to see Chumash cave drawings, a meet-and-greet with a movie-star giraffe (he was in Hangover 3) and, of course, a wine tasting.

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