South-facing Topanga Beach is at the eastern end of the Malibu coastline next to the Pacific Palisades neighborhood in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Bohemian enclave of Topanga is surrounded by state parks and conservancy lands made up mostly of coastal sage and chaparral. Topanga Beach sits at the estuary of Topanga Creek which runs down to the coast through rolling hill surroundingTopanga Canyon, one of the largest watersheds flowing into Santa Monica Bay. The Topanga State Park is one of the biggest open spaces within a city in the world. It includes the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area which is popular for hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching and other outdoor pursuits in this area of streams, waterfalls and rocky cliffs. The secluded Topanga State Beach, which is accessed by a short flight of steps, provides excellent kayak surfing and there is a sandy beach and surfing area.
Named after the local Tongva tribe, the area was settled by European immigrants in 1839. By the 1920s the prime location had been realized and many Hollywood stars of the silent movies had weekend cottages built as convenient escapes from the city. Forty years on, Topanga was a magnet for artists and musicians including Wallace Berman and Neil Young. The murderous Manson family disturbed the karma of the area for a time. Many of the local up-and-coming musicians met at the Topanga Corral, a nightclub which burnt down in the 1970s and again, finally, in 1986. Today the area is famous for hosting the Topanga Film Festival, the Reggae Festival and the annual fair and parade on Memorial Day, known as the Topanga Days Festival. The artist’s colony originally founded by residents Will Geer and Woody Guthrie now has an outdoor amphitheater hosting Shakespearean plays, concerts and classical productions.
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