>Sometimes it’s nice to go to a nearby neighborhood and spend an afternoon shopping and eating as if you lived in that town. It’s also nice to actually spend the night “out of town” in town just to enjoy a break from the everyday chores of life which inevitably end up intruding on a relaxing day at home. I like going to Manhattan Beach for my mini-vacation days. It’s got the massive Manhattan Village Mall and is close to the 405 freeway, but at the heart of the town by the pier, there are still individual shops and restaurants that do not have clones everywhere else.

Lulu’s is a small exquisite lingerie store located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, at 300 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 Tel 310-798-4577. Lulu’s has high-end designer lingerie and shoes like Cosabella, CYA, Missoni, and Costume National. They also have pretty jewelry and hair accessories to add the finishing touches. I love the boudoir feel of the shop and the friendly but not pushy staff. They also have some very cute and practical things like footpetals pads for those high heels to make them look killer without feeling killer. It feels like shopping in a very wealthy friend’s lingerie closet. They have sales that they will give you advance notice on if you sign up on their mailing list. I just bought a gorgeous Cosabella dress for 50% off! Quality on sale never goes out of style.

Lulu’s is just a few blocks to the ocean and surrounded by great little restaurants and cafes like my favorite breakfast place Le Pain Quotidien just a block up the same street in a nice courtyard. They offer organic artisan breads, great pastries and fabulous jams. It’s a great place to sip your latte out of a bowl so you can dunk in your buttery croissant at the communal table, just like in Europe. For lunch, they offer salads and sandwiches on their wonderful bread, all freshly and simply made. They started in Brussels, moved to NY, and are now finally here on the west coast. Next door to the cafe is Shade hotel, a nice place to stay if you don’t live in the area. All the beds at Shade are Tempurpedic and they have a hip bar on the roof that is more scenery than useful. The style is very modern and minimalist. The rates are not cheap, but it is in the heart of all the restaurants and shops, so it still is the next best thing to living in Manhattan Beach, and that is almost priceless.