Nestled between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific coastline, only 15 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara and a stop off Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, is the charming community of Carpinteria. This laid-back beach town, known for its calm waves and scenic walking paths along the beachfront bluffs, is that idyllic haven in which to kick back and relax with some local beers, or lie on the wide sand beaches, passing the day away.
The look: A small California coastal town with a large strip of a well-maintained beach lined by grassy fields. The sweeping Santa Ynez mountains are to the east. The town’s Linden Avenue is a quintessential California main street, picturesque in natural simplicity.
Rich history: The name of the town comes from its history of Chumash carpenters who fashioned tomolos, or canoes, out of wood and tar from the land. In precolonial times, the Chumash repurposed naturally occurring tar from petroleum seeps to seal canoes used to explore the ocean. These petroleum seeps are naturally occurring holes where tar flows to the surface of the earth. You can still find these tar pits on Carpinteria State Beach.
Main drag: Linden Avenue is the main strip that leads directly to the water. This lively thoroughfare features local boutiques and tasty stops like the popular Robitaille’s, a store full of handmade candies and known for their “Presidential Inauguration Mints.” Continue down Linden Avenue and hit the beach.
Spend a day in the hills: In the foothills above the town sits the beautiful farm Canzelle Alpacas. Tour the property to see pastures full of award-winning fluffy alpacas, horses, chickens and even a water buffalo. Take a day to hang out with the animals and relish the view of the vast ocean overlooking the Channel Islands, but be sure to reserve a tour spot via their website before heading over. 4036 Foothill Road.
Can’t Miss Eats
Breakfast: The bright yellow façade of The Worker Bee Café calls us into the bustling restaurant, known for their corned beef hash. It also serves up other tasty breakfast dishes, with many gluten-free options as well. 973 Linden Ave.
Lunch: Zookers restaurant is inspired by what the natural land has to offer, and their menu is sourced with organic local produce, sustainably raised meats and fresh fish. 5404 Carpinteria Ave.
Lunch/Dinner: Teddy’s by the Sea provides classic seafood dishes in a homey atmosphere. Enjoy traditional plates of fresh oysters, or creative combinations like Teddy’s tropical ceviche sweetened with mango and jicama. 5096 Carpinteria Ave.
Dinner: Giannfranco’s Trattoria is known as much for its robust Italian-cuisine menu as for its delightful garden patio surrounded by plants and foliage. Enjoy delicate lobster ravioli or fire grilled bistecca in the secret garden. 666 Linden Ave.
Happy hour: Island Brewing Company is just a short walk from the beach; it’s a place to relax with a beer in the spacious indoor space with roll up doors that open up to the coveted outdoor seating. Try the smooth and slightly sweet honey avocado ale, a callback to the bounty of Carpinteria. 5049 6th St.
For a relaxing day: Carpinteria State Beach offers a wide strip of beach for swimming, walking, lounging and exploring. The tidepools showcase an abundance of creatures, from starfish, sea anemones and crabs to snails, sea urchins and maybe even an octopus.
Take a walk and enjoy the sunset: The bluffs provide leisure hiking trails alongside the ocean and open fields. On a clear day look out across the ocean for a front and center view of the Channel Islands.
Scenic drive: California State Route 150 cuts through Carpinteria and is the direct route to Ojai, a drive east filled with stunning views of the Santa Ynez mountains.