Until this year, I had never been to Malibu, but I have now been twice within a month of each other.

My first trip was solo, and the next, I returned with a good friend. Both two very different adventures that helped my soul find the peace and rest it needed.

I grow attached to the idea of places. I read all about the history of it, follow the hashtags on Instagram for photo spots and essentially pretend that I’m a local, absorbing the city or country and its culture.

Malibu is the perfect escape — close enough to the City of Angels, but far enough away from the chaos and traffic that ensues. It feels worlds away from the entertainment capital of Los Angeles. Surprisingly, there is a lot of nature, countryside, and, of course, the main attraction — the beach.

Two restaurants on the Malibu Pier - Malibu Farm

Perhaps one of the most recognizable destinations of Malibu is its pier, home to the Malibu Farm restaurant, which actually has two dining locations.

The first one visitors run into is the full-service restaurant, which takes reservations, though not necessary for daytime. The indoor seating is a larger space, decorated with a beach boho vibe, and also includes seating options with an open view on the deck or covered patio near the water. The restaurant also offers a full bar and larger plates, including steak, lobster mac & cheese and spaghetti squash lasagna.

The second option is the Malibu Pier Café, a bit more casual with indoor and outdoor seating available, located at the end of the pier. Beer and wine are offered on the patio as a barista makes the drinks while you wait to order. Once having ordered and given a number, guests are able to choose their seat, whether on the side patio or on the second level, giving a stunning view of the ocean and cityscape. The Café’s menu offers items on the lighter side, such as salads, sandwiches and burgers.

For more information, visit https://www.malibu-farm.com/malibu-pier/.

Beaches

When I took my solo trip, I tried El Matador State Beach, but the line was far too long and there were no parking spots available. I drove up the street to Zuma Beach and paid $8 for parking. It was a relatively quiet beach with people scattered around, leaving plenty of space in between parties. If you’re looking for something more laid-back, this is the place to be.

Upon my return, my friend suggested El Matador State Beach, and I’m so glad she did. Different from Zuma, this beach has an exotic feel as if you’re somewhere outside California. Surrounded by enclaves and rock formations, it gives visitors a chance to explore. Sit in one of the cutouts in the rocks for shade or perch yourself on one of the large rocks to avoid the waves and take in the beauty of the ocean blues that go on for miles.

Parking spaces are limited and can be paid via one of the machines as you make the long trek down the staircase to the sand. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes, preferably with grips on the bottom.

Malibu Country Mart/The Park at Cross Creek

The Malibu Country Mart is essentially a one-stop shop for locals. The outdoor shopping center proudly boasts hair salons, real estate offices, restaurants, boutiques and more. There are a number of familiar designer brands, as well as local galleries and businesses to support.

Even if you aren’t in the mood for a shopping spree or the prices of the Malibu Country Mart aren’t for you, The Park at Cross Creek is just next door with a few other options, such as Whole Foods, Blue Bottle Coffee, Urban Outfitters. As the name suggests, there is an actual park in between shops, known as The Learning Gardens, meant to be an outdoor interactive classroom and productive edible garden. It’s also a spot to unwind from busy errands or a day of sightseeing.

Pacific Coast Highway

Take advantage of being on the Pacific Coast Highway with a drive as the sun sets. The "magic hour" is a sight to see as you cruise along. You might also end up in another area close by.

My friend and I ended up at the Pacific Palisades Village, a smaller outdoor shopping center with fine-dining patio restaurants, coffee, an Amazon bookstore, a Chanel Fragrance & Beauty Boutique with a style that makes you feel as though you’re transported into “The Secret Garden” or another fairytale lined with shops and other activities. Would it be a trip to LA without a few Instagrammable photo-ops? There are several throughout the path of shops.

Malibu is a daydream; A glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. You’ll pass a Tesla and Range Rover on just about every corner, and you just never know who you’ll run into.