Malibu with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

Malibu with Teens: A Family Vacation


Malibu, Calif. often invokes thoughts of movie stars, expensive beachfront homes, and opulent shopping - not as a great place for family vacations with teens. However, with 21 miles of coastline and picturesque mountains and canyons, Malibu is an outdoor playground offering families an abundance of fun things to do. You will not find it hard to plan a vacation day in this surprisingly cool, friendly and laid back community. Here are some of our best family vacation ideas for a trip to Malibu with teens.


For a casual, tasty breakfast, head to Coogie's Beach Cafe. Though not located on the beach, you and your family will feel right at home at this family-friendly cafe serving up hearty standard breakfast dishes. Order from items such as pancakes, French toast, eggs Benedict, breakfast burritos, and omelets. For something with a little kick, try the spicy Bayou scramble with the Cajun sausage, and for a special treat, make sure you order the wonderful zucchini muffins. With such a great atmosphere and friendly service, you are sure to start your family vacation off on a high note. Who knows, you may even run into a celebrity!

Coogie's Beach Cafe, 23755 Malibu Road, Malibu, 310.317.1444. Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 7:30AM-9PM; Fri-Sat 7:30AM-10PM.

What could be more Hollywood than a visit to an old movie set? Hidden in the hills near Malibu is the old Western town at Paramount Ranch. This is one of the best things to do in Malibu with teens. Purchased in 1927 by Paramount Studios, these 2,700 acres were transformed into a Western wonderland. This movie ranch has been the backdrop for hundreds of movie and television shoots including "Gunfight at the OK Corral", "Geronimo", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "Gunsmoke", "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman", and the HBO series "Carnivale". The area was also briefly used as a racetrack during the 1950s and you can still see remnants of the track throughout the grounds.

Now owned and operated by the National Park Services, this is a great place to explore with your teens. In addition to the Western town, there are several hiking trails that extend from the center of town out into the surrounding terrain, ranging from easy to more advanced hikes. Head south on an easy 1/8 mile trial that offers stunning views of Medea Creek and the town itself. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and your camera. Restrooms and picnic tables are available for use.

Paramount Ranch, 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, Malibu. Take Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road exit. South on Kanan 0.5 mile. Left on Cornell Way and veer to the right. South 2.5 miles, entrance is on right side of the road. Parking is available at a lot near the town. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk and admission is free.


School your children on ancient art with a visit to the Getty Villa. You and your kids will feel like gods (or goddesses) as you wander through this magnificent villa whose architecture evokes that of an ancient Roman house. Sitting atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this recently renovated museum houses thousands of items from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan periods dating as far back as 6,500 B.C.

Explore the 23 permanent exhibits and several rotating exhibits as you encounter statues, sculptures, artwork, jewelry and more. Let your teens hang out in the TimeScape Room and enjoy some interactive exhibits about the ancient Mediterranean. Stroll through the grounds and enjoy the Roman-inspired gardens (don't miss the herb garden), incredible architecture, and outdoor Roman theater. This may not be one of the largest museums in Malibu, but it certainly is one of the most beautiful.

Upon entering the museum, pick up an audio player to make your visit more educational and enjoyable. Check their website for a list of special exhibits, free family programs and information on architecture and garden tours.

Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, 310-440-7300. Hours: Wed-Mon 10AM-5PM (closed some Wednesdays for theater productions). Admission to the museum is free, but you will need an advanced, timed ticket to enter. Visit the website to pick the day and time you would like to visit and print your tickets from there. You may also obtain tickets by calling the museum directly. Tickets include a parking spot but will cost you $15 per vehicle.

While visiting the Getty Villa, stop for lunch at the museum's cafe. Enjoy the stunning views while soaking up some sun as you eat at the outdoor patio. Order tasty dishes from the Mediterranean-inspired menu including salads, soups, pasta, pizza and burgers. You can also pick up a boxed lunch and picnic in the grounds of the villa. They also have a coffee kiosk for those who need a midday pick-me-up. The cafe opens at 11AM. After lunch, stop by the museum store and do a little shopping.

What's a trip to Malibu without a visit to the beach? Head over to the world-famous Surfrider Beach and Malibu Surf Shack, where your family can rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards for an afternoon of fun on the water. How's that for a Malibu family adventure? Join a knowledgeable guide on one of their two-hour tours ($69.95 kayak/paddle board), or go it alone if you prefer. Choose a single or tandem kayak and venture out for some peace and quiet as you become one with nature.

You may see dolphins, fish, kelp beds and lots of birds. Teens especially love trying their hand at one of the stand-up paddle boards. Standing straight up on a large board while paddling your way through the ocean may sound tough, but you will get the hang of it pretty quickly once you are out past the waves and on much calmer waters.

Malibu Surf Shack, 22935 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-456-8508. There is free parking along the Pacific Coast Highway. All equipment, including life vests, is included in the rental fee. They also rent boogie boards for those of you who prefer to hang closer to shore. All rentals must be returned by 5:30PM. Stand-up paddle boards rent for $55 for two hours or $65 for four hours, single kayaks are $20 per hour and double kayaks $30 per hour.


After spending an afternoon on the ocean, you and your family may be craving some fish for dinner. Satisfy your hunger at Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe. This cafe has a beachy, casual atmosphere, great for family vacations with teens, and offers some of the freshest seafood in Malibu at very reasonable prices. Choose from salads, steamed and fried seafood (fish and chips are the best), sandwiches (try the fried oyster sandwich), an array of grilled dinners and some rather tasty clam chowder. Don't worry, for those of you that are not fans of the sea, they offer a few non-seafood items as well. Enjoy the patio seating with nice views of the ocean.

Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe, 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310-456-3430. Hours: daily 11AM-8:30PM.

If you still have a little time left and your teens don't want to call it a day just yet, venture over to the Malibu Country Mart. Do a little shopping (or window shopping) at this upscale mall, or grab a drink at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Starbucks and sit in the garden area to reminisce about your best family vacation in Malibu with teens. Or better yet, watch a flick at the Hollywood Theaters cinema located right near the mall.

Malibu Country Mart, 3835 Cross Creek Road, Malibu, 310-826-5635.
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