Malibu Lagoon State Beach
In a sea of private beaches fronting mansions, Malibu Lagoon State Beach (23200 Pacific Coast Hwy., 818/880-0363, www.parks.ca.gov, daily 8 a.m.–sunset) and its ancillary Malibu Surfriders Beach offer public access to a great northern L.A. location. Running alongside the Malibu Pier, this pretty stretch of sugar-like sand offers a wealth of activities as well as pure California relaxation.
This beach offers a number of unusual attractions, including both the Adamson House (310/456-8432, www.adamsonhouse.org) and the Malibu Lagoon Museum. You can take a guided tour that goes through the museum and out to the wetlands, butterfly trees, tidepools, and flower gardens. Malibu Creek runs into the ocean here, creating a unique wetlands ecosystem that’s well worth exploring.
If a beach party is more your style, you can rent beach toys at the pier and stake your spot on the sand. Surfers man the break here year-round; please be careful of your fellow riders.
At the intersection that leads to the museum, you can also drive down to the main parking lot. It’s likely to fill up fast in the summer, so get there early for a spot.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition