15 Fun things to do with your dog in Malibu

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Malibu is a small California beach town with miles of sandy shoreline and tons of parks popular with surfers, swimmers, and dog lovers. 

According to the 2020 US Census, out of the 5,168 households in the city, 2,072 have at least one dog. That means over 40% of the homes in Malibu have a pooch as part of their family. So, how does that help you as a pet parent? It means there are a lot of dog parks, beaches, eateries, and shopping venues. 

Whether you have a humongous hound or a pocket pup, there is always something to do in Malibu. Buy some new dog toys at Malibu Country Mart, climb a mountain on the Grotto Trail, or play some games at the Santa Monica Pier. You can even see where some popular movies were filmed, visit some historic ruins, or join a scavenger hunt. 

We found close to 100 trails, parks, and other fun places here. Below you can find 15 fun things to do with your dog in Malibu.

A theme park for dogs: South Park Adventureland 

If you want a seriously fun day at the park with your pooch, this place is it! It is literally a theme park for dogs! In fact, it is the largest dog theme park as well as the first canine resort in the world. With both indoor and outdoor activities, you will find a 22-foot swimming pool, sprinkler rings, and several agility courses and play equipment. They even have a doggie football stadium. 

South Park Adventureland is not like any other dog park you have ever seen, we promise. It looks more like a children’s park than a dog park! In addition, they offer painting classes, swimming lessons, agility training, and canine counseling for separation anxiety and obedience. This is 40,000 square feet of play space with exciting activities and games. If you have to go to work, bring your pup here for boarding and they can play and swim all day while you are gone. 

Hit the beach: Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach

Named after the Broadway and film star, Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach is the perfect place to spend the whole day playing in the surf, building sandcastles (and knocking them down), and just soaking up the sun on the soft sand. Your leashed pooch is welcome on the beach to the north of the lifeguard stand three and all of the day-use areas and campground. But he is not allowed on some of the trails or the beach south of lifeguard stand three. 

You will have plenty of other park space to enjoy, with over 2,500 acres that goes all the way into the Santa Monica Mountains. During low tide, take your pup to see the water critters in the tide pools and the sea birds that are constantly looking for food. You can also watch the surfers enjoy the waves, play fetch, and take a walk down the coastline to look for whales and dolphins playing further out. 

Shop til you drop: Malibu Country Mart

Just a short walk from the Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Country Mart is a dog-friendly place to shop, eat, and be entertained for a whole day of bonding with your fur buddy. With more than 50 boutique shops and eateries, you will both enjoy this fun place. There is even a grooming salon to give your pup a new ‘do and a toy store where you can grab some new balls to play fetch on the beach with. 

Malibu Mutt’s Grill is the perfect place to grab a burger, hot dog, and fries so you and your pooch can refuel to do some more shopping. Right next door is the chocolate shop where you can get yourself some sweet treats. Or have a picnic in the garden or playground area with whatever food you like. This is an open-air mall, so you can also try Greek food at Taverna Tony or a fresh sandwich at John’s Garden. Just keep your pup on a leash and pick up after him.  

Run wild with fur-friends: Camarillo Grove Dog Park

The home of the oldest tree in the city and a former stagecoach stop, Camarillo Grove Park is pretty fantastic with a lot of history. With about 25 acres, here you can find a large open grassy space for lots of sniffing, plenty of trees for shade, a hiking trail, and a nature center. Some other amenities and entertainment include horseshoe pits, a playground, picnic areas with tables and barbecue pits, restrooms, and a drinking fountain.  

But the main spot for your pup is the fully enclosed dog park. Its features include a really cool toy fire hydrant, separate areas for big and small pooches, a doggie drinking fountain, and even a leash holder to hang your leash on. What’s more, the whole park is off-leash on the weekdays for dogs that are well-mannered and voice-controlled. That means you and your pup have 25 acres to explore as well as a fun dog park so he can socialize. 

Hike and play: Solstice Canyon

Located right on the ocean in central Malibu, Solstice Canyon is a dog-friendly place to take a hike in the mountains. The main trail (Solstice Canyon Trail) is moderate to difficult and takes you about six miles into the Santa Monica Mountains to see a variety of historical places and buildings. There are signs with historical data for most of them. 

The most popular is the Keller House, constructed in 1865 and the oldest structure in Malibu. It was mostly destroyed in the 2007 Corral Canyon Fire, but the walls, windows, and a few other ruins are still there. Then, meander along the creek to the remains of the 1952 Roberts home, where you can find the waterfall, old dam, and a fountain. Be sure to stop by Lisa’s Rock, where Fido can play in the cave-like structures. Keep your pup leashed, and you may be able to see some lizards and other critters. 

Check out the pier: Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is pup-friendly as long as your canine companion is well-behaved and on a leash. Many of the indoor places and Pacific Park do not allow dogs, though, so be sure to ask first. Luckily, most of the fun stuff is outdoors anyway. The pier itself is 1,600 feet long and was the first concrete pier on the West Coast, built-in 1909. It has a variety of attractions to enjoy with street performers every day and live music on the weekends. 

First, the 1922 carousel with 44 horses carved by hand is even more fun to ride with your pup on your lap. Inside the building, The Soda Jerk can provide you both with some delicious treats. You can also do some fishing. If you didn’t bring a pole, the Bait & Tackle Shop has everything you need including snacks for you and your pooch. You and your pooch will also enjoy the games and energy at the arcade.

See the sights: Zuma Canyon Loop Trail

At just over 11 miles long, the Zuma Canyon Loop Trail is a pleasant hike but is considered to be difficult so make sure both you and your pooch are up to the challenge. You will need to start early because it typically takes about six hours to complete. But the views and attractions along the trail are stunning, to say the least, so wear some good hiking shoes and pack a lunch. 

There is a lot of climbing with an elevation gain of over 2,700 feet as you hike up Zuma Ridge and then down Zuma Canyon on the other side. The ocean views along the way are breathtaking, and you will see miles and miles of unspoiled nature. You will need to pack plenty of water, snacks, and doggy waste bags too. The only water spigot is at mile 7, and the creek only flows in the winter and sometimes in the spring. 

Get wild: Charmlee Wilderness Park

Between Zuma Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach, you can find over 500 acres of Santa Monica Mountain Coastal Slope Environment with more than 8 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a lot of wild critters. Your pooch will love the scents. According to the wildlife cameras, some of the animals in the park include mule deer, coyotes, foxes, a bobcat, quail, and a variety of other birds. 

You and your fur baby can choose between four trails including the easy 2.6-mile Ocean Overlook Loop Trail, the easy 2.3-mile Reservoir Trail to East Meadow Loop Trail, the moderate 3-mile Long Hill Trail, and the moderate 4.1-mile Clyde Canyon Lower Loop Trail. Some of the attractions to look for are the Ranch House Ruins and the Ocean Overlook. You can pick up a map at the trail kiosk to follow the trails in case your electronics lose service, which almost always happens. 

Take a hike: Grotto Trail

Beginning at Circle X Ranch in western Malibu, you and your pupster can take a 3-mile hike through the woods down to the Grotto, about 550 miles below. Remember, you will have to hike back up that 500+ feet on the way back, so be sure you can do this before heading down. The small creek is perfect for letting your canine companion splash and play for a while. Climb over and under rocks down to the secluded grotto where you, taking some side trails to hidden locations with awesome ponds. 

There is a certain point where you will come to where there is a steep cliff with a dangerous drop-off. Be careful to keep your pup leashed and far away from the edge. When you get down to the grotto, you can explore the boulders, but dogs are not supposed to go into the cave itself. Climbing back up to the top of the trail may be a bit of a challenge for you and Fido, but there are plenty of spots to rest along the way. 

Climb mountains: Point Mugu State Park

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Point Mugu State Park has five miles of shoreline dotted with sand dunes, beaches, hills, and bluffs. There are two main river canyons as well as several green valleys often filled with colorful wildflowers. Walnut, oak, and sycamore trees can be found all over, providing ample shade for you and your fur buddy. Leashed dogs are allowed in all of the day areas, beaches, and campgrounds, but not on the backcountry trails. 

You can take a walk in the woods along the 70 miles of trails but be sure to follow the rules when it comes to not using the back country roads and trails. After you work up an appetite, stop for a snack at one of the concessions or food trucks in the area. Then, take your pooch to the beach and cool off together in the clear, cool ocean, where you will see others surfing, swimming, and fishing. 

Learn some history: Will Rogers State Historic Park

Will Rogers was one of the most renowned actors in Hollywood in the 1930s and was named America’s Most Beloved Citizen. His 31-room home and 359 acres were donated to the California State Parks in 1944, and today it is a state historic park. You and your pup are welcome in the park as well as the estate, but you will have to speak to the rangers to see if you can bring him on a tour of the inside. Tours are held every day from Thursday until Sunday. 

The home features a golf course, polo field, roping and riding rings, corrals, a stable, and a guest house. The Visitor Center is located in the garage of the guest house, where you can see a video of Rogers’ life. In addition, you can watch a polo game for free when they are playing from May until October. And they host movies on the front lawn of Rogers’ house with food trucks and a band. 

Explore the ranch: Paramount Ranch

Also known as Movie Ranch, this old village was the site of many movies starring many legends like Bob Hope and was the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. More recently, the site was used for the 2014 film American Sniper and the popular HBO series Westworld. Unfortunately, a lot of the structures in Western Town were lost in the 2018 Woolsey Fire, but you can still explore the area where the church and train station still stands. 

You and your dog can cross the bridge to the chapel and see where many scenes of Westworld were filmed. Get some awesome selfies with your fur buddy while you are there. Take a walk into the woods on one of the eight hiking trails leading away from Western Town. One of the popular and easy hikes is the 2.1-mile Perimeter Loop that features stunning views, bridges, and wildflowers. For a longer hike, try the easy 3.8-mile Coyote Canyon Trail. 

Drink some wine: Pantless Cellars

Not only is your dog welcome here at Pantess Cellars, but he can also play with Coco the winery dog while visiting. Just minutes up the coastline on the Pacific Coast Highway, you can enjoy the family-crafted wines made from the area vineyards of Los Alamos Valley and Santa Ynez while Fido plays with Coco. Of course, there are snacks that he can try and water for him to drink as well. 

The tasting room hours are from 6 PM until 9 PM on Fridays and from 1 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. During the day, they offer guided tours, but you have to book them in advance. If you love wine and plan to visit often, join their Raven Wine Club and you will get free tastings as well as invites to foot stompings and bottling events. You also get two free bottles of wine for joining 

Go for a hunt: The Dessert of LA Scavenger Hunt Tour

Santa Monica’s The Dessert of L.A. Scavenger Hunt Tour loves dogs, so take your pup with you to search for clues on this fun tour. You will work with a team, so make sure you let them know when you book your tour that you will be bringing a dog because some people are allergic. The team collaborates to solve clues, perform silly tasks, and learn more about the area. There are 15+ stops along the way, so wear some comfy shoes. 

Each stop has signs, plaques, and art that help to solve the riddles you can only do onsite. If you cannot get the answer, you will be guided to the next location. It is app-guided so that you can play anytime you like. Some of the places you may stop at include the Santa Monica Loof Hippodrome, Original Muscle Beach, the Route 66 End of the Trail Sign, and the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Remember to keep your pup on a leash at all times. 

Get social: Dog PPL

The first canine social club in Los Angeles, DOG PPL is more than just a group of people. It is also a lounge, bar, cafe, and park for all members and fur babies. The most important feature that Fido will be impressed with is the dog park. There are 12,500 square feet of turfed space for your pooch to play off the leash. Inside the dog park, they also have comfy seating, palm trees, and umbrellas for the pup’s parents. 

The shop and kiosks are both stocked with a variety of fun items you can purchase for you and your fur buddy, and the bar will supply you with drinks of all kinds as well as snacks. And don’t worry, you can charge your phone or other electronics at the bar too. The cafe also has some canine-conscious food and drinks. The most important thing to note is that this is a private club that you have to join. But that is what makes it so special. 

The Final Woof

While you are out and about with your canine compadre, it is good to know some of the restaurants and bars that are dog-friendly. 

The one we put on the list is great, but if you happen to be in a different area, you may need to pick something else. For a semi-formal dining experience on the coast, Geoffrey’s is a place you can bring Fido, but you need to make a reservation. For a more casual meal, Taverna Tony has a stunning patio where you can both enjoy some Greek eats. Other dog-friendly eateries include Coogies Beach Cafe, Fish Grill, and Reel Inn

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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