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Photo courtesy of Kevin Cantu
Just ten minutes (by car) south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria is a beach community with an authentic small town feel. Linden, one of the main streets, offers specialty shopping and restaurants that range from casual to fine dining. The wide state beach that borders Carpinteria is ideal for surfers, families and weddings. There is even a camping facility right on the sand.
See & Do
Guidebooks won’t tell you this, but 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.
Being a casual sort of town, Carpinteria offers several casual sort of dining options, ideal for grabbing a bite on your way to the sand or picking up a little something for a picnic on the bluffs. Most famous, perhaps, is the Spot, a rather unassuming shack just past the train tracks on Linden Ave that been serving up tasty burgers and milkshakes for over 90 years. For tasty and portable Mexican food, stop by Reynaldo’s European & Mexican Bakery. Sure they have a fancy array of delicious cakes and baked goods, but their secret weapon is their tamales. Perfection!
Carpinteria's Best Restaurants
In Carpinteria, shops and restaurants tend to close on the early side - after all, ranching and surfing (two favored local activities) require many to get up with the sun. That said, there is still some fun to be had in this peaceful little beach town after dark. For a stiff drink and a good laugh, head to Sly’s and try one of their specialty vintage cocktails. Are you a stickler for tradition? Then you should order a Sazerac, made with rye, bitters and a few other magical ingredients, it’s often considered America’s first cocktail.
Carpinteria is not necessarily known for their wide array of hotels, but you do have a few solid choices when you want to stay the night. You can book a spacious room at the Holiday Inn Express or, if you want to be a little closer to the north end of town, try making a reservation at Best Western. And if you’re cut from rugged cloth or perhaps fancy a family caravan, you can always camp at Carpinteria State Beach. Rates start at $45 per night.
Linden Avenue is one of the most popular streets in Carpinteria. Home to a variety of restaurants and other small businesses, Linden Avenue is especially well known for shopping. The many storefronts boast everything from children’s clothing to candy stores (Robitaille’s Candies is not to be missed!), but it’s the vintage and antique treasures that keep many tourists coming year after year. And the other great news? When you’re all shopped out just keep walking. In a few short blocks, Linden Avenue leads right to the Carpinteria State Beach.