Malibu is a great place for an all-day or half-day date when you want to get away from it all without straying too far from the Los Angeles area.

You get beautiful beaches and mountains, as well as great restaurants and other attractions. Check out these date ideas in Malibu, Topanga, and the Pacific Palisades.



1. The Getty Villa

Modeled after a first-century Italian villa, the Getty Villa is an amazing destination for a date when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

Getty Villa
Getty Villa

The highlights include the gardens, buildings, and museum, which features mostly Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art and artifacts. Admission is free but parking is $15.

2. Hiking

The Santa Monica Mountains offer some of the best hiking trails in Southern California, and they’re just a short drive away from the city.

A whole website could be devoted to hiking areas in the Santa Monica mountains.  Let me just mention a few here. Note that most of these parks don’t have a lot of tree cover, and they can get pretty hot on a sunny day (which means almost every day in Southern California).  I suggest either going in the morning or late afternoon when it’s cooler.  And, be sure to bring plenty of water!!  Also, some of these parks charge for parking, so bring cash.

A very easy hike with great view is at Will Rogers State Park.  For a bit more challenge, check out Temescal Canyon, which features a cool landmark (and potential make-out point) called “skull rock”. Just a little further up Sunset Boulevard, near where it meets PCH, is the Los Liones Canyon trail. This is probably my favorite of the three trails that are off of Sunset in this area.

Further up PCH is Topanga State Park. It has some cool boulders and rock outcroppings, and some nice views.  Many people (myself included) like the Eagle Rock Trail.

View from the Eagle Rock trail, Topanga Canyon
View from the Eagle Rock trail, Topanga Canyon. Pack a lunch and eat on the rocks, like this couple is doing.

Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains and offers some great views.  You get to it from the Circle X Ranch.  At this point, you’re pretty far from Santa Monica (almost to Camarillo!), but you’ll be rewarded with cool views and more privacy.

The trail up to Sandstone Peak
The trail up to Sandstone Peak

A great overall guide to hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains is this page. Check out this complete map of hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.

After your hike, drive along PCH and stop for lunch at one of the casual seafood restaurants that I mention below.



3. Nobu Malibu

If you really want to impress a foodie (or anyone else for that matter), and have the budget to match, look no further than Iron Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Nobu in Malibu. The sushi and other Japanese dishes are simply amazing. The location, right along the edge of the ocean, is ideal, especially at sunset.

Nobu Malibu
Nobu at lunch. For a really romantic date, make a reservation for dinner around sunset.

4. Inn of the Seventh Ray

Nestled in the middle of the woods off of Old Topanga Canyon road, Inn of the Seventh Ray has got to be one of the most secluded and romantic restaurants in the L.A. area. You’ll dine outside under trees adorned with white lights. Even more amazing is that the California cuisine, made from seasonal organic ingredients, is actually just as impressive as the setting.

Inn of the Seventh Ray
Inn of the Seventh Ray

We went in the middle of the week, and it was pretty empty, which was surprising to us. But, I suppose it is quite a trek to get up there during the week if you work in the middle of the city.

The decor is somewhat “New Agey” with Buddhas displayed around the grounds.



5. Horseback Riding

For a really unique date idea, how about horseback riding for an afternoon in the Santa Monica mountains?

I went with an operation called Malibu Riders, and we had a fantastic experience riding in the Paramount Ranch area. While the sets there were destroyed in the recent fires, and some of the trails are closed, the Paramount Ranch ride is still open.

You don’t need any riding experience, and they supply everything you need.

Malibu Riders
Malibu Riders will show up with a trailer with the horses and everything you need for the ride.

I had never ridden a horse before but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

After your ride, have lunch at The Old Place, a local restaurant which looks like a western saloon, or the Malibu Cafe (see below).

6. Geoffrey’s Malibu

For an outdoor dining experience with sweeping views of the Pacific, Geoffrey’s Malibu is the place to go to. This place is definitely romantic and perfect for special date occasions! The service and California cuisine get high marks on Yelp, so it’s not just a hyped up restaurant with a good view.

7. Mastro’s Ocean Club Malibu

If want a classic old-school steak and seafood experience in an amazing location, check out Mastro’s Ocean Club Malibu. The food, service, and atmosphere will not disappoint!



8. The Sunset Restaurant

The Sunset is a modern but charming restaurant overlooking Point Dume which features New American cuisine and seafood. It faces West, so you’ll always have a view of the sunset (hence the name). It’s a great choice if you want a great Malibu experience with ocean views, at somewhat more affordable prices than some of the other uber-high-end restaurants on this list.

9. The Malibu Cafe

Located in Calamigos Range in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains off of Kanan-Dume Road, the Malibu Cafe is a quirky and fun outdoor dining spot which offers outdoor games and new American cuisine.

Malibu Cafe
Malibu Cafe during the day. At night the bistro lights make this a romantic dinner location.

The outdoor dining here is definitely romantic at night, with a unique, fun, and less formal atmosphere. Great if you don’t like stuffy restaurants with white tablecloths.

10. Beaches

No article about Malibu would be complete without mentioning the beaches, which are more secluded and less crowded than the ones in Santa Monica and to the South.

Lechuza Beach
Check out the rock formations at Lechuza Beach

My favorite “secret” beach is Lechuza Beach, but of course there are many others in the area to explore! Go for a walk, lay out in the sun, or check out the waves.



11. Roadside Casual Seafood Restaurants on PCH

After a hike or visit to the beach, there’s nothing better than having lunch at one of the casual “biker” picnic table seafood restaurants on PCH.

Furthest out, but one of my favorites, is Neptune’s Net, a classic biker hangout on PCH featuring fried clams, fried shrimp, and French fries. Note, the restrooms here are port-a-potties so this is definitely a casual place, but the food is so good after a long hike.

Another great after-hike casual lunch spot is Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe. The menu is similar to Neptune’s Net, and you wait in line to order, then eat at picnic tables outside. It’s located a little past Pepperdine on PCH as you are driving away from Santa Monica.

Malibu Seafood
Malibu Seafood

My last pick in this category is The Reel Inn Malibu, which offers a larger variety of fish and indoor picnic-table seating. It’s located just past Topanga Canyon Blvd.

12. Lake Shrine

If you’re looking for a peaceful oasis to escape from your troubles, or to chillax with someone special, Lake Shrine offers an amazingly beautiful setting with a trail that wraps around a picturesque lake.

Lake Shrine

Lake Shrine has religious symbols and statues devoted to the world’s most popular religions including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It’s kind of strange (to me) to see these religious symbols all together in one place, and it definitely has a New Agey feel, but you can’t deny that the setting is beautiful. Admission is free.

Note that this place is intended for quiet meditation, so don’t come here to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend or anything like that!



13. Malibu Farm Restaurant / Cafe at the Malibu Pier

Malibu Farm Restaurant is located at the start of the Malibu Pier, whereas the Cafe is located at the far end.

The Cafe is a more casual restaurant offering counter service with indoor and outdoor seating. It does not take reservations.

The Malibu Farm Restaurant is a full-service restaurant with bar and patio and dining room seating. They will take dinner reservations.

Both offer American cuisine in a unique location on the pier; ideal for a casual lunch or dinner (at the Restaurant only). Parking can be a bit hairy though; you might have to park on PCH and walk a bit.

14. Palisades Village and Surrounding Area

Palisades Village is a Caruso shopping mall brought to you by the same developer that built the Grove and Glendale Americana. It opened with much excitement in the Palisades. It’s definitely charming but it’s VERY SMALL, nowhere near as big as the Grove.

Palisades Village
Palisades Village mall

It’s fine for a quick stop to grab a bite or smoothie, but you can walk through the whole place in minutes. Still, it has charm and the grounds are beautiful, just like the other Caruso properties, and it’s worth checking out if you happen to be driving through the Palisades on Sunset.

It’s located in the heart of “downtown” Pacific Palisades, so there are lots of other shops and restaurants to explore if you wish.


Summary

These are my top date ideas in Malibu and the Pacific Palisades! Any questions? What do you think of these? What did I miss? Please leave a comment below. – Brian

Shares

Pin It on Pinterest