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Pier to Pier: A Road Trip From Santa Monica to Malibu

February 05, 2016

File this under ‘quintessential LA experiences’: a lovely, scenic drive along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, from Santa Monica shore up to beachy Malibu. It’s not too long a stretch (a 40-min breeze without traffic) and can be done without hiring a car, but for max impact rent your own convertible for the weekend and get cruisin’.

To begin, you’ll need a chic stay – in SaMo there’s nowhere better than the seriously sigh-worthy Shutters on the Beach, where Pacific Ocean views and the gentle lull of waves will wake you. Park your bot on the patio at resto Coast and order the lemon ricotta pancakes if you know what’s good for you.

Or if you prefer a brekky that’s a bit more gnarly, there’s the surfboard-walled, wave-muralled Dogtown Coffee, run by three mates who begin to both serve and surf at daybreak.

Ok. Car n’ tum fuelled, zip onto the PCH up to Pacific Palisades and spend a few AM hours at Getty Villa, J. P. Getty’s whopper cache of antiquities and one fine collection of ancient Roman, Greek and Etruscan art… set in his enviable seaside manse, duh.


Read More:  LA's Best Beaches


Upon arrival at Malibu, skip out to the pier, if only for the postcard-pretty staggering view of the misty mountains over the Pacific. Buff dudes and dolphins dot the breaks at Surfrider Beach below, and you can rent your own SUP or board and get out on the big blue.

While you’re here… lunch! Pitstop at the sea-ney, sunny Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, a family-run farm-to-tabler plating up at the end of the dock. Or you can order ahead for pick-up and picnic on the sands.

Afternoon is the perfect time to visit the pimped up Malibu Surf Shack for renting surfboards, paddle boards, body boards, kayaks, wetsuits n’ more. Let the sun-bleached ‘Bu boys give you a guided 'ocean tour’, teach you to ride the swells and even feed Flipper if you’re lucky! 

For your Malibu finale, you’ll have booked ahead for a coveted table at Nobu, where Matsuhisa-san gives us ample occasion for simultaneous celeb-spotting and dolphin-watching – all over courses of perf-plated Japanese-Peruvian fusion (signature miso black cod is sensei-tional). You simply must demand to sit on the terrace. Domo!


Updated November 2018.

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