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Neighborhood Guide: Malibu

August 18, 2011 9:53 AM

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girl beach Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)


From Topanga Canyon on up to Ventura County Line, Malibu’s coastline is legendary. It’s a lifestyle, a Chevy, a Barbie doll and probably our most famous beach town. But there’s a lot more to Malibu than surf and sun – although no matter where you go, you’re never too far from both.

Shopping

made in malibu t Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Old School Malibu

La Costa Plaza
Rambla Pacifico and Pacific Coast Highway (Across from Duke’s)
Malibu, CA 90265
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One of the neighborhood’s newest establishments (opened July 1) is a store celebrating Malibu landmarks of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. Beloved eateries like the Malibu Sea Lion (located where Duke’s is now) and Alice’s Restaurant live on with logos emblazoned on Romy Bennett’s line of casual clothing. Bennett, an area native, is a friendly proprietor – and so laid back we were unable to find a telephone listing or website for her pretty shop. The clothes are worth seeking out for the beachgoer with a touch of nostalgia.

feedbin Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: dancingdolphin53/flickr.com)

Malibu Feed Bin

3931 Topanga Canyon Blvd. (at Pacific Coast Highway)
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-2043
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Now, this is a business that’s truly old school: the building it occupies dates back to the 1920’s, and was once a trading post. Since 1966, it’s been owned and operated by the Morehart family, whose inventory of livestock, pets, supplies and gifts has been developed since 1966. (As a strange footnote, the Feed Bin appears in some of the books about the Manson Family, who lived nearby for a spell). The store is now managed by Marty Morehart’s daughter Kasey Perry, who will sell you an exotic chicken with instructions and a smile.

malibu country mart play Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Malibu Country Mart

3835 Cross Creek Rd
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-1211
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One of two side by side shopping malls, the Civic Center-adjacent Country Mart is also something of a community center, with a movie theater, restaurants and a lovely play area for the kids. Parking in the expansive (for Malibu) lot is free. Over 60 businesses are located in the Country Mart, including outposts for Ralph Lauren, MAC, 7 for All Mankind, Madison, and The Malibu Colony Company, where you don’t have to live at the beach to furnish your home in Malibu style. This shop’s collection of classic housewares and decorative pieces can help turn a suburban shack into an elegant cottage. also carries jewelry, scents and gift items.

lumberyard Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Malibu Lumber Yard

3939 Cross Creek Rd.
Malibu, CA 90265
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Until a couple of years ago, this new addition to the Malibu community was an actual lumber yard. Today, it is an even more upscale shopping destination than the adjacent Country Mart. Luxury stores like Maxfield, Tory Burch and Kitson will surely catch your eye — but it’s not all $300 shoes and $800 shirts. Local pressure persuaded the developers to offer space at reduced rates to small, local businesses. At Malibu Art Barn you’ll find displays for children’s art and a list of classes in sculpture as well as painting, mosaics, collage, and pottery. (They also have “Date Night” featuring a pottery wheel a la “Ghost.”) Dance Star Malibu, owned and operated by former Britney Spears backup dancer Charissa Seamann, is a popular birthday party destination as well as a dance studio for kids.

There are dramatic aquariums and comfy lounge chairs scattered about, giving it the ambiance of a beach deck (and here’s a tip: you’ll find free wi-fi at both the Country Mart and Lumber Yard, which makes both a nice destination for hanging out and checking your email).

Dining

Malibu is famous for restaurants that take advantage of the spectacular views along the coastline: Duke’s, Geoffrey’s, Moonshadows, Sunset, and the Paradise Cove Cafe are all good spots for watching the surf come in. The Country Mart and Lumber Yard are also home to good international dining (albeit without the view):

habanafood Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Cafe Habana

3939 Cross Creek Road
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-0300
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This is one of three Mexican/Cuban concept diners (and the only one on the West Coast) from New York entrepreneur Sean Meenan (Etsy.com). The interior is modeled after the Mexico City coffeehouse where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are said to have planned the Cuban revolution. This explains why diners are greeted with chips and salsa and the menu is heavy on Mexican dishes (although you can also get a nice Cuban sandwich and yummy roasted plantains). The ambiance on both the patio and the dining room is 1950’s Caribbean cool and has a kid-friendly vibe.

tavernatony Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Taverna Tony

behind the Malibu Country Mart
23410 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-9667
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As nice as it is in Malibu, it’s fun to imagine you’re in Greece while you dine under the bougainvillea-covered pergola. Enjoy a feast of traditional Greek dishes, or just appetizers and wine. Do try the flaming Saganaki cheese, spanikopitas and moussaka.

Playing

lagoon Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

23200 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
General Information: (818) 880-0363
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The state beach where Malibu Lagoon meets the Pacific Ocean; includes the famed Malibu Pier, Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum, Surfrider Beach and Malibu Tide Pools.

Bring your lunch and do a little bird watching at picnic tables in the lagoon nature area, then check out the marine life in the tide pools at the beach. Guided tours are available of the wetlands, flower gardens and structures (Rhoda Adamson was the daughter of Malibu founding father Frederick Hastings Rindge and the house features tile from the famed Malibu Pottery). On top of that, you can surf the waves and the web: this is one of 85 state parks with free wi-fi.

Parking: Enter from Pacific Coast Highway at Cross Creek Road

legacy park Neighborhood Guide:  Malibu

(credit: Donna Schwartz Mills)

Malibu Legacy Park

23500 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-1364
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The city’s newest park (opened October 2010) is not only an area for education and recreation, but an innovative stormwater and urban runoff project (described by city officials as “an environmental cleaning machine”).

You can stroll along the meandering brick walkway of the 15-acre park, which stretches from behind the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping complex to Malibu Civic Center, and passes through restored native coastal habitats. It offers a living learning center, informational kiosks, an outdoor classroom, a cultural interpretive area and numerous other features to provide information and education about flora and fauna along the Southern California coast. The kids will enjoy the colorful tiled sculptures of native wildlife, there to help teach them about area fauna like the Burrowing Owl, Red Tailed Hawk, and the Western Fence Lizard.

The striking Civic Center entrance to the park also features a statue of a child drinking the lagoon water depicted in a spectacular tiled representation of the city seal.

Donna Schwartz Mills blogs at SoCal Mom.

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