Budget Travel

The very best ways to enjoy Malibu for free

Buying a house in Malibu may be out of your budget (mansions here routinely cost over $10 million), however, you don't have to flash a lot of cash to enjoy the Malibu way of life, though you may have to pay for parking.

The beaches and the mountains would be the most sought-after playgrounds about this gorgeous stretch of the California coast, and the free thrills they deliver are difficult to conquer. There are the disposable big-ticket museums and cultural institutions in Santa Monica and La, but Malibu has plenty of samples by mail to do to enrich a visit beyond surf and sun.

Here are our picks for the eight best free things to do and see in Malibu.

Bask on the beach

It would be impossible arrive at Malibu and not visit the beach. Luckily, there's a beach for each kind of traveler. Zuma Beach is the place to choose all-day fun in the sun, while scenic El Matador State Beach is best for a basic, reflective stop. Wish to admire the beach without getting sand in your shoes? Should you accomplish the Pacific Coast Highway at Dan Blocker Beach, you are able to admire the ocean from the gated viewing deck with picnic tables.

While access to the beach is free of charge, you can expect to have to pay for parking at the beach lots. But if you're savvy enough with parallel parking, it is possible to find free parking on both sides from the Pacific Coast Highway. From there, you are able to hoof it to the sands; just use extreme caution because this is a famously busy thoroughfare.

Go tide-pooling

Exploring the tide pools along the Los angeles coast is really a fascinating activity for travelers of all ages, and Malibu has some good spots for locating sea critters. The best pools are at Leo Carillo State Beach, where low tide brings out a number of sea creatures such as crabs, mussels, urchins and sea stars. The beach also offers small caves and rock formations for little adventurers to understand more about.

The answer to tide-pooling here, however, would be to time your vacation with low tide as high tide can come in quickly, trapping beachgoers against the cliffs. You should check a tide forecast for that area online. And don't forget: don't remove the tide pool animals – these vulnerable creatures can perish quickly out of water. Associated with pension transfer Malibu beaches, you'll have to pay to park, but when you can find a free space on the Pacific Coast Highway you are able to walk down to the beach from there.

Visit Getty Villa

On the border of Malibu and Pacific Palisades, the Getty Villa may be the former home of oil baron J Paul Getty, that has served being an antiquities museum since the 1970s. Free to visit, it's an extension of the larger Getty Center in La, but concentrates on the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.

The villa itself was inspired by an old dwelling in Italy, and has its Italian-style herb and shrub garden which faces out over the Pacific Ocean. Using the ancient artifacts displayed, the ocean vistas and also the often sunny weather, a visit here feels like a fast trip to the Mediterranean. Free entrance requires a timed ticket; parking can be obtained for a fee.

Swing by Malibu Cars & Coffee

With a winding coastal highway that serves up eye-widening ocean views, Malibu is really a favorite place to go for scenic drives, whether in a car or on a motorcycle. So it's natural that some of that driving culture would spill over into the city. Every second and fourth Sunday morning, the City of Malibu invites car enthusiasts to Malibu Bluffs Park to demonstrate and admire a collection of classic, custom, and merely plain cool cars, for free.

Starting early at 7am – hence the requirement for coffee – this popular car show differs from the informal car collectors' gathering that occurs over the way at Malibu Country Mart (where Jay Leno is a frequent attendee) however, you can always spot a high profile or two. Make sure to check the Malibu Cars and Coffee website for the latest dates and times.

Go whale-watching

Although there are occasional whale sightings in summer, winter remains the best opportunity to see whales off Malibu's coast. December is the start of whale-watching season in Southern California, and cetaceans could be spotted right through until April. For a wide-angle look at the ocean, head up to Point Dume, where whales is visible both from the sand and from on top of the point. Malibu Bluffs Park also offers a great lookout point for whales – be sure to bring your binoculars!

For a better concept of the way the whale migration is progressing, go to the American Cetacean Society's website before heading to the shore. Beginning on December 1, researchers tally up whale sightings using their base in Palos Verdes, around an hour and a half south of Malibu.

Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art

At Pepperdine University, the interesting Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art features exhibitions of both historical and contemporary art by well-known artists. This small, carefully curated space tends to concentrate on the art of California and also the United States, showcasing everything from paintings to sculptures. Tickets are free but you'll have to book a timed entry slot. Parking is free of charge on campus but there are several specific directions to follow along with (begin to see the website for details).

Malibu Pier

If you'll find parking around the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Pier could be a good way to determine a happening part of Malibu without spending much money. You are able to fish without a permit or bring a picnic and watch the surfers tackle the waves at Surfrider Beach, before walking over to the Adamson House, a historic home around the edge of the Malibu Lagoon that offers a peek at life in Malibu in the turn from the 20th century.

The house runs tours for $7 ($5 for kids and free for all those under five) however, you can stroll the perimeter of the house for free, consuming the views and gardens. The pier is another fine spot to watch the sunset, especially on a warm summer evening. If you can, wake up early for sunrise instead – you'll be certainly one of just a couple people around the pier soaking up Malibu's morning glory.

Malibu Creek State Park

There are plenty of hiking trails winding through the Santa Monica Mountains, but Malibu Creek State Park has the most to provide. Sometimes referred to as “The Yosemite of Southern California,” the park was formerly owned by a movie studio, Twentieth century Fox, until 1976. Today, the 4.75 mile (7.6km) Crags Road trail takes hikers towards the former group of the hit television show, M*A*S*H, where a few old props such as vehicles and medic tents can still be seen.

Mountain biking, mountain climbing, horse riding and kayaking in a small lake are also popular activities around the block. There's a fee for parking, but it's less expensive than parking by the beach – prices range from $3 to have an hour to $12 for an all-day pass.

You may also like