Malibu is legendary as a celebrity enclave, but it is also a great village with a small active community. To truly taste life here, stay for a few days and hang out like a native.
Malibu Beach Inn has just been renovated and it is truly the best place to stay on Carbon beach (every room is on the beach with views of the beach or pier). Prices are about $100 less in the months shouldering July and August when it is still wonderful weather, so book a few days midweek in September to enjoy a less crowded town and beach (and feel like a local).
Everything in the rooms is top quality from the Molton Brown products in the bathroom, to the minibar stocked with Dean & DeLuca snacks. They tried to include everything you would want from complimentary (wired) highspeed internet access, to an ergonomically designed chair and workstation. If you just want to sit and watch the sunset in your Trina Turk robes while sipping one of the seven bottles of (good) Californian wines in every room, you could forget that you live anywhere else.
For a romantic dinner on your first night, I would go with wonderful French/Mediterranean food. Just a short drive to the north is Beau Rivage, which sits like a pink Mediterranean seashell next to the beach. Whether you want to start out with the escargot or the caviar, you can't go wrong with your choices here. The proprietor, Daniel, is a gracious and charming host who will make sure your experience is elegant and delicious. Choose the grilled striped bass or the rack of lamb with Mediterranean herbs and olive oil. Finish the evening with a digestif as you enjoy the live piano ushering in the night. Call ahead for reservations because this is a popular spot for weddings and private events that close the restaurant to public reservations.
Spend a day walking acround at the Malibu Country Mart with it's small exclusive shops and small playground (full of nannies with children most week-days) and wander over to the spiritual bookstore the Malibu Shaman, with the best small collection in town of everything New Age and spiritual in books, trinkets, candles, and music. There is usually a tarot or psychic reader in residence, so for some added fun, spend a session with the reader and see what the cards have to say.
If your stomach says let's go eat, then head over to Marmalade Cafe for breakfast at the Malibu Country Mart shopping center. This is classic healthy Californian food in a casual comfortable atmosphere. If you want a healthy meal, order the tofu and egg white omelet with spinach, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms; if you are starving, order the Cross Creek special of buttermilk pancakes, maple turkey sausage, Italian chicken sausage, smoked bacon (or ham) and 2 eggs and you will be happy with your gigantic meal of fresh ingredients at reasonable prices. Most plates are more than enough to share unless you are famished or Michael Clarke Duncan gaining weight for another John Coffey size role.
Nobu Malibu is a great way to end your stay; what better way to end the day than by eating fresh Japanese sushi or specialties like the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno or a Lobster shitake salad with spicy lemon dressing? Prefer beef? They have Australian Kobe beef. To end your Nobu Malibu meal, how about a fruit infused sake? It's the perfect dessert and drink in one.
End your stay with a stroll onto the Malibu Pier (now re-opened) and make a wish upon a celestial star to return for another view of Malibu.