GETTING THERE: Malibu is about 25 miles northwest of Los Angeles's airport, along the Pacific Coast Highway (state Highway 1). Most major airlines, such as United, US Airways and American, fly to LAX, starting at around $200.
SURFING THERE: The main surfing beach of Gidget's era and onward is Surfrider Beach (http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/BandH/Beaches/Malibu.htm), off the PCH. It has paid parking ($7), changing rooms, restrooms and shower facilities. Other popular beaches are nearby Zuma and Topanga. Surfing season runs year-round, but summer is usually the best. For lessons, Carla Rowland (http://home.earthlink.net/carlita007/learntosurf) offers two-hour private instruction for $150 with gear. John Philbin (310-454-0630, www.prosurfinstruction.com), who coached Kate Bosworth in "Blue Crush," has lessons for $100 per hour.
Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman's (aka Gidget) favorite surf-store hangout is Becker Sport (23755 W. Malibu Rd., 310-456-7155), but for rental boards, head to Zuma Jay (22775 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-456-8044). Boards cost $20 for 24 hours. The Malibu Surfing Association (www.malibusurfing.com) also lists upcoming events and competitions.
STAYING THERE: A few laid-back yet high-end properties sit along the Malibu coastline, such as the Malibu Beach Inn (22878 Pacific Coast Hwy., 800-4-MALIBU, www.malibubeachinn.com), whose rooms have private balconies (some with hot tubs) overlooking the beach scene. The Surfrider Room, which has a fireplace, goes for $195 to $370 per night, including breakfast. Cross the street and the rates drop; the Malibu Motel (22541 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-456-5580, www.the-malibu- motel.com; from $119) has fashionably minimalist furnishings, a small pool and a cliff- side seating area. The Malibu Country Inn (6506 Westward Beach Rd., 800-FUN-N-SURF, www.malibucountryinn.com), close to Zuma Beach, offers 16 rooms, a heated pool, gardens and the Hideaway Cafe. Rates from $140.
EATING THERE: Gidget recommends Coogie's (23750 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-317-1444) for breakfast. Eat indoors or out, and keep your eyes peeled for celebrity locals downing such dishes as egg white frittata and pancakes with banana and chocolate chips. Breakfast runs from about $5 to $14; lunch and dinner also available. For lunch, take out sandwiches, soups and salads at John's Garden (3835 Cross Creek Rd., 310-456- 8377) and find a seat at an outdoor table or on the lawn. Cost: $4.25-$8.75.
If you prefer real silverware, Tra di Noi (3835 Cross Creek Rd., 310-456-0169) serves Italian favorites with a gourmet twist, such as risotto scampi ($22) or pizza with roasted eggplant and sun-dried tomatoes ($13.25). The $21.95 brunch at Duke's (21150 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-317-0777) takes up a whole room; afterward, head to the Barefoot Bar, where the floor is sandy and the ocean spray may spritz your cocktail. Most likely, hostess Gidget will seated you.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: The shopping square on both sides of Cross Creek Road has stores selling fancy hangout threads, like rhinestone flip-flops and designer jeans, as well as homewares, baked goods, beauty products, pets and plants. Diesel (No. 3890) bookstore also has a surf-themed section. Malibu Shirts (22775 PCH) is part T-shirt shop, part mini-museum of Malibu surf "legends." Watch the surfers and fishermen on Malibu Pier, near Surfrider Beach.
The one mansion you can get into is the Adamson House, a 1930 seaside property covered in artisan tiles. Roam the gardens and grounds for free or pay $5 for a guided tour. Info: 23200 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-456-8432, www.adamsonhouse.org. There are also many state and regional parks good for horseback riding and rugged hikes. See the chamber of commerce (below) for info.
INFO: Malibu Chamber of Commerce, 310- 456-9025, www.malibu.org.
-- Andrea Sachs