Lying 11 miles east of Santa Barbara, the time-warped beach town of Carpinteria – so named because Chumash carpenters once built seafaring canoes here – is a laid-back place. You could easily spend an hour or two wandering in and out of antiques shops and beachy boutiques along Linden Ave, downtown’s main street. To gawk at the world’s largest vat of guacamole, show up for the California Avocado Festival in early October. This picture perfect, small Central Coast town has 4.5 miles of oceanfront. Situated along Highway 101, the preferred coastal route for scenic drives between northern and southern California’s beaches, Carpinteria has a few hotels, beautiful beaches, a charming downtown that is only a few blocks long, a wetlands marsh, and of course, the main draw–beach camping! The wide state beach that borders Carpinteria is ideal for surfers, families and weddings, or camping right on the sand.
Don’t forget about Carpinteria beaches. Many Carpinteria beaches are considered by locals to be even nicer than their more famous Santa Barbara counterparts. The sand is usually wider, the crowd more relaxed and the surf… well the surf is legendary, especially at Rincon beach. Other beaches include Carpinteria State Beach, Carpinteria City Beach and Padaro Beach. Carpinteria State Beach offers a great campsite and picnic area. Padaro Beach is favored by natives and conveniently bordered by local businesses, including Padaro Beach Grill and A-Frame Surf Shop.
From coastal bluffs to tide pools, an off shore reef, and a lagoon, Carpinteria provides a habitat for marine creatures for all visitors to enjoy. The tide pools in the Carpinteria State Beach are home to crabs, sea stars and anemones. In addition, Santa Barbara Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary provides the amazing backdrop to watch shorebirds, migratory birds, riparian birds, and upland birds.
Enjoy the many wonderful beaches of Carpinteria, (you’ll find a list here), then come visit Carpinteria. Our Carpinteria Vacations guide has all your answers to start planning your beach vacation. Just keep reading!
Carpenteria Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Carpenteria is from March to May or from September to November. Temperatures are fairly mild year-round, hovering in the 60s and 70s, but traveling in early spring or fall ensures you won’t be fighting crowds and rates will be less expensive. Summer welcomes most of the city’s annual events and it’s also peak season if you’re looking for a beach vacation, but you’ll have to contend with more crowds. If you’re traveling during the winter months, make sure to pack an umbrella because Santa Barbara sees most of its rainfall between December and February. No matter when you decide to visit, pack layers as the as morning and late evening temperatures tend to be much cooler than the daytime highs
Carpinteria State Beach
Twelve miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria State Beach offers a mile of beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Although dogs are not allowed on beach, we have a great picnic area where they are allowed to enjoy the outdoors as well. Lifeguards patrol the beach year round and lifeguard towers are staffed roughly from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The Spanish named the area Carpinteria because the Chumash tribe, which lived in the area, had a large seagoing canoe-building enterprise, or “carpentry shop” here. This was because of naturally-occurring surface tar, which was used to waterproof the canoes. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchins.
Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve
Panoramic ocean and mountain views, a convenient location and the chance to see basking seals make this little trail popular with locals. It’s dog friendly, although dogs and bikes aren’t allowed in the seal sanctuary. Home to about 100 adult seals who give birth here, the seal preserve is not to be missed during your visit to Carpenteria. There are also bike paths in the area which offers views to the west and the beautiful farm scenery to the east.
Rincon Beach Park
Widely respected for some of the Central Coast’s best surfing, every age converges here on any one day. Visitors who want to take in the wonderful ocean views, have a picnic, take photographs, or stroll the beach will want to visit Rincon. Lifeguards are not present, but swimming is still common here. Walking on the beach all the way to Carpinteria Bluffs is possible, just note that this remote northern section of beach might have some clothing-optional folks. The parking lot sits high above the sandy beach below. There is a tall stairway and a long graded ramp for access from the bluff top to the beach.
Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve
The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve contains a critically important Southern California estuary, which supports many sensitive plant and animal species. The site includes extensive wetland, sub-tidal channel and emergent upland habitats. The Reserve is adjacent to a sandy beach, subtidal rocky reef, and kelp beds. The reserve provides habitat for migratory waterfowl along with several species of plants and animals listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern, such as the salt marsh bird’s-beak, light-footed clapper rail, and Belding’s savannah sparrow. It also is an important regional nursery for California halibut and other species of marine and estuarine fish.
Tar Pit Park
Tar Pits Beach is an area within Carpinteria State Beach where asphalt seeps out onto the beach. The oily substance comes a natural asphalt lake, one of just five in the world. After most of the easily accessible asphalt was mined long ago, the area became a local trash dump. Since then it has gone through a transformation to become Tar Pits Park. The park has many trails to walk and overlooks that look down on the beach and out toward the Channel Islands. Dark strands of asphalt soaked rocks line the beach and the bank behind the beach. Since tar bubbles come up to the surface here, the beaches are usually covered in tar balls that will stick to your feet so bring olive oil or another natural oil to clean it off.
Carpinteria Area Tours & Attractions
Santa Barbara Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch
See and taste the best the Santa Barbara coast has to offer on this leisurely paced wine tour and picnic lunch. You’ll sip on a variety of wines and visit at four local wineries in the area. Knowledgeable local guide will pick you up anywhere in the Santa Barbara area to begin the tour. Feast on a delicious picnic lunch at one of the wineries while enjoying the scenery of the rolling coastal mountains. Read more about Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour
Full-Day Iconic Sights of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the beaches and more!
From the Hollywood sign to the celebrity mansions of Beverly Hills, Los Angles is so full of iconic sights it can be tricky to see them all. This guided tour seamlessly transports you by coach to all of the city’s top attractions — from Santa Monica Pier to the Sunset Strip — so that you don’t need to worry about missing a thing. Read more about Los Angeles Tour with Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and beaches
Hollywood Hills Hike: Explore Griffith Park and Hollywood Sign
Griffith Park is California’s 2nd largest park, so we’re excited to take you on one of the best Los Angeles tours out there! Our team of CPR/First Aid certified guides are photographers, entertainers, history buffs, and (most importantly) professionals. Hike Griffith Park with us to discover the Hollywood Sign and tour Griffith Observatory as we regale you with how Hollywood became the entertainment capital of the world. Read more about Hollywood Hills Hike
Private Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara
This private Santa Barbara kayaking tour lets you explore the marine life and landmarks of Santa Barbara Harbor and the spectacular coastline on the ‘American Riviera’ along one of four different routes. Take in views of rugged shoreline cliffs and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and be on the lookout for dolphins and seals. This 1.5- to 2.5-hour tour is led by an experienced kayak guide who points out natural features and customizes the speed of the ride according to your skill level. Read more about Santa Barbara Harbor Private Kayak Tour
Surfing Lesson in Santa Barbara
There’s hardly a better place to learn to surf than the Southern California locale of Santa Barbara, which offers fantastic weather year-round. During this 1.5-hour lesson, an expert instructor shows you how to stand up on your surfboard and balance, offering tips on how to catch the perfect wave while ensuring your safety in the water. Wetsuit and surfboard rental are included, and all skill levels are welcome. Read more about Santa Barbara Surfing Lesson
Best Carpenteria Restaurants
The Spot Under $10
Just past the train tracks on Linden Avenue, a few steps from the beach, is The Spot, a trusty little shack of a restaurant that all the locals know. They have been serving up delicious burgers and fries for over 90 years. The surprisingly vast menu also includes veggie burgers, some Mexican specialties, and fish n’ chips. There is no dress code, so go in your bikini or trunks if you please. There is seating outside, or you can just walk across the street to the park or beach for an impromptu picnic! Telephone: 805-684-6311 Web: The Spot.
Giannfranco’s Trattoria $11 – 30
Giannfranco’s Trattoria is the best Italian restaurant in Carpinteria. This family-owned restaurants is just a few blocks from the beach. This hidden gem serves up fresh, authentic dishes that are made to order using high-quality ingredients. Enjoy paninis, pasta and meat dishes for lunch or dinner. A delectable dessert menu includes Italian wedding cake, chocolate mousse, and more. The extensive wine list features local and European labels. Giannfranco’s has a lovely patio for outdoor dining. Telephone: 805-684-0720 Web: Giannfranco’s Trattoria.
Padaro Beach Grill $11 – 30
Overlooking Santa Claus beach, a local favorite, the Padaro Beach Grill boasts a park-like outdoor dining room that’s ideal for day dates and impromptu gatherings. Enjoy fresh salads, savory burgers and sinfully rich milkshakes that are blended by hand only after you place your order. A large sandbox encourages the kiddos to play while grownups indulge in refreshing beers and local wines. Try the shrimp salad or one of the 100% prime chuck burgers. Live bands are common on the weekends. Telephone: 805-566=9800 Web: Padaro Beach Grill
The Palms $11 – 30
Open since 1912, this legendary 100-year old steak and seafood restaurant is classic with a twist… you can cook your own food! You order the cut of meat of your choice (steak, salmon or halibut), and then head to the grill to cook it exactly how you like it. If you are not into cooking your own food, choose something from the other side of the menu, and let the chefs do all the hard work for you. Every meal also comes with an endless salad bar. The bar serves stiff drinks and is often packed with a live band on the weekends. Telephone: 805-684-3811 Web: The Palms.
Zookers Restaurant $11 – 30
At Zookers Restaurant, you will enjoy a relaxed atmosphere with a creative seasonal menu. We put an emphasis on carrying local organic produce, the freshest fish, and sustainably raised meats such as Watkin Ranch locally pasture raised beef, Nyman Ranch pork, Jidori chicken and other high-grade meats. Zookers has many daily chef specials from our Creative Cuisine, which are some of our most popular items on the menu. We have a variety of menu items from tofu to steak, veggie options and amazing pasta dishes. Telephone: 805-684-8893 Web: Zookers Restaurant.
Best Carpinteria Bars
Corktree Cellars Wine Bar & Bistro
Corktree Cellars Wine, Bar & Bistro aims to provide a fun and relaxing place to hang for a while. It’s a casual and inviting atmosphere where friends can get together, relax over a glass of wine and share some great food. So enjoy. Try a few new things if you please, and share some great food with friends. Become part of the Corktree way of life, cheers! Telephone: 805-684-1400 Web: Corktree Cellars.
Padaro Beach Grill
Welcome to Padaro Beach Grill. Great food, spectacular views, friendly service and a family-style atmosphere make Padaro Beach Grill the perfect place to dine. Eat inside our completely remodeled restaurant or outside on the lush lawn. Explore the grounds, or enjoy a drink by the fire as the sun sets. There’s something for everyone. So come on by and eat, relax, play and enjoy the perfect blend of food and paradise. Telephone: 805-566-9800 Web: Padaro Beach Grill.
Carpinteria & Linden Pub
This dive bar has a boatload of different beers to offer, great music, four pool tables, and a great surf rocker atmosphere. Locals will come up and challenge you to a game of pool, so be prepared! Telephone: 617-519-6253 Web: Carpenteria & Linden Pub
Great food, great seafood, great cocktails, and great times at the last little beach town on the Central Coast. They serve cocktails by the year. The Sazerac (1830) and the Zombie from over one hundred years later in 1937 are the two most recent additions to Sly’s list. Telephone: 805-684-6666 Web: Sly’s.
The Tower Club
Socialize with Mix & Mingle opportunities, – 22 floors up – happy hours, Holiday events, wine tastings and more! The Tower club is well known for fine cuisine, our beautiful sky lounge, and signature activities and events. This is a members only club where you can enjoy access to a unique setting with 360 degree breathtaking views of the Oxnard Plains, Pacific Ocean, and Channel Islands. Telephone: 805-983-7777 x223 Web: The Tower Club.
Best Carpinteria Hotels
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
This property is a 9-minute walk from the beach. In the charming beachside town of Carpinteria, this hotel offers spacious accommodations, complete with a variety of modern amenities. Carpinteria State Beach is a 15 minute walk away. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Carpinteria is ideally located close to many area highways, including Highway 101. This location offers guests easy access to much of the surrounding area, including the vibrant cities of Santa Barbara and Ventura. Guests at the Carpinteria Holiday Inn can enjoy a number of thoughtful and state-of-the-art amenities. With flat-screen TVs, a daily continental breakfast and an on-site fitness center, guests can remain comfortable and relaxed while traveling.
Best Western Plus Carpinteria Inn
In California, just 1 miles from Carpinteria State Beach, this hotel features on-site dining, an outdoor pool and a hot tub. All comfortably furnished guest rooms include free Wi-Fi. All of the guest accommodations at Best Western Plus Carpinteria feature cable TV. With wood-beam ceilings, all rooms include tea and coffee-making facilities. A fridge is provided. At Carpinteria Best Western Plus, American fare and cocktails are available at the on-site restaurant and lounge. After dinner, guests can walk around the tropical courtyard complete with a koi pond.
Santa Barbara Inn
The newly re-imagined Spanish Mediterranean boutique merges classic elegance and coastal luxury with 70 beautifully appointed rooms. Sink into a lounge chair by the heated outdoor pool and enjoy flickering gas lanterns and a fire pit. The oceanfront terrace is great for enjoying cocktails, Italian fare and the Pacific Coast sunset. Included is a modern fitness center and a comfortable event venue accommodating up to 80 guests. You are just moments from downtown Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Mountains, white sand beaches, wine tours, fashionable boutiques and world-class dining — beginning with the hotels Convivo Restaurant.
Blue Sands Inn
Located just steps from Santa Barbara’s famous East Beach and within walking distance to great restaurants, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Wharf, and the famed Funk Zone, the Blue Sands Inn is centrally located in one of Santa Barbara’s most sought after neighborhoods. Bike rental is available at this inn and the area is popular for biking.
Harbor View Inn
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Spa Beaumontia, a full-service spa experience, is available on site at this hotel. Rooms feature a flat-screen TV and a minibar. Stearn’s Wharf is less than a 5 minute walk away. The modern rooms include terry cloth robes and free WiFi. A safe and a work desk are also provided. A swimming pool and fitness center, including a sauna, are available for guest relaxation at the Harbor View Inn. A business center and concierge service is both featured for maximum convenience. Shops are in the hotel. Several on site dining options are available at the Harbor View Inn. A poolside bar and grill and State Street Coffee are both featured to give guests quick and easy dining options. Eladios Restaurant and Bar, offering intimate and comfortable dining, features sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.