malibu, California

Most people think of Malibu as the land of waterfront mansions, only for those with tremendous wealth, or home of Hollywood stars who live there on the weekends. It is one of L.A.’s most posh cities, but at the same time, it has lots to do for anyone not on a millionaire’s budget. Here are some museums, great public beaches, and other landmarks worth visiting when you’re at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center and want to take the short drive north to check out Malibu.

Getty Villa, Photo courtesy of F. Tronchin, Flickr

Getty Villa

Over 1,200 ancient Greek, Roman, and Mediterranean artifacts from the private collection of late oil magnate, J. Paul Getty, are on full display in one of the most popular museums in Los Angeles, the Getty Villa. Since 1974, this museum has not only showcased sculpture, art and artifacts as old as from 6,500 B.C. as part of its permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, but is also an architectural jewel. The museum mimics the design of the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman residence in Herculaneum with large atriums, reflecting pools and lush gardens. Visit the Getty Villa website for more information and directions.

Topanga Canyon State Park, Photo courtesy of bradbarrish, Flickr

Topanga State Park

11,000 acres with 36 miles of trails and roads, deep in the Santa Monica mountains means lots of hiking options! While you hike the trails here, you’ll be taken aback by the sage and other natural flora that defines the dry chaparral habitat of Southern California, not to mention the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Keep these trails in mind for the best hiking experiences: the Musch Trail that passes Eagle Rock (not the neighborhood, but an actual rock), the Backbone Trail, and the Santa Inez Trail that follows the Santa Inez Creek and runs alongside massive sandstone formations. Depending on where you enter the park, the drive can range from nine to sixteen miles. Visit the Topanga State Park website for more information and directions.

Zuma Beach, Photo courtesy of Cameron Khan, Flickr

Zuma Beach

Some of the biggest waves of all the beaches in L.A. are at Zuma Beach. Zuma Beach is for serious, experienced swimmers and surfers, with waves regularly as high as 7 feet and abundant with rip currents, so pay attention to the lifeguard signs. Others who visit Zuma Beach enjoy bodysurfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing its choppy currents, or playing volleyball and tanning on its golden sand. Zuma Beach is easily accessible and wedged between other great beaches in Malibu, including Westward Beach which has even stronger wave action. Visit the Zuma Beach website for more information and directions.

El Matador State Beach, Photo courtesy of Lonni Besancon, Flickr

El Matador State Beach

El Matador isn’t popular among swimmers and surfers, but its rocky formations make for amazing strolls! Explore the eroding formations, have a picnic overlooking the Pacific Ocean or climb the stairs that take you down the bluffs and to the water. The rock formations are what define El Matador Beach as a scenic hotspot. Stay to watch a one-of-a-kind sunset. Visit the El Matador State Beach website for more information and directions.

Point Dume, Photo courtesy of Pacheco, Flickr

Point Dume

Point Dume State Beach is popular among hikers and climbers who come to the beach to scale its massive rock faces. Point Dume’s cliffs and coves provide an opportunity to experience “untouched,” “rugged” California. If you hike long enough, the trail at Point Dume will take you to an isolated beach with abundant tidepools. Visit the Point Dume website for more information and directions.

Adamson House, Photo courtesy of ronayne, Flickr

Adamson House

Adamson House, or “Vaquero Hill,” as it was known in the 19th century, is an estate bordering Malibu Lagoon State Beach park famous for its design and its grounds. It has been called the “Taj Mahal of Tile” because of its extensive use of decorative ceramic tile, all produced locally in Malibu. One of the best examples of this extensive design is the 60-foot imitation Persian carpet made of tile, and the tiles that decorate the Neptune and Peacock fountains. Visit the Adamson House website for more information and directions.

Malibu Country Mart, Photo courtesy of Malibu Country Mart, Facebook

Malibu Country Mart

Celebrities flock to the Malibu Country Mart, an upscale outdoor shopping center off Pacific Coast Highway, to shop at over 90,000 square feet of high-end boutique stores. If you’re itching to see a celebrity here, chances are high you just might! Aside from its stores, there are plenty of small eateries, gardens and sculptures that make Malibu Country Mart a fun shopping experience and a great spot to just hang out and people-watch. Malibu Country Mart is 20 miles from UCLA, but well worth the drive. And with the Santa Monica Mountains as a backdrop, it’s one of L.A.’s most unique and beautiful shopping experiences. Visit the Malibu Country Mart website for more information and directions.

Malibu Wines, Photo courtesy of DSC_0215, Flickr

Malibu Wines

What better way to spend a weekend than at Malibu Wines, with its selection of regional wines and relaxing ambiance. Its lush green lawn has plenty of picnic tables so you can bring food to pair with the wines that are available for purchase at the winery. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, providing a rustic yet upscale environment, Malibu Wines attracts plenty of visitors, so we recommend getting there early. The winery is 30 miles away from UCLA, but is a highly recommended destination for its one-of-a-kind experience combining some of life’s best pleasures — wine, beautiful scenery and friendly people. Visit the Malibu Wines website for more information and directions.

MAIN PHOTO: Malibu Pier, Photo courtesy of Ted Murphy, Flickr

WRITTEN BY: Oshin Aivazian, UCLA