Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Carpinteria, CA

  • Published 2021/12/22

California remains one of the top destinations for vacation and leisure in the United States for its warm sunny weather, beaches, and laidback life.

With more than 800 miles of coast, California is teeming beautiful scenic beaches.

When it comes to these places, people often think of Huntington, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, or Malibu.

However, California has a lot of hidden gems than these trendy places for beaches and vacation.

One of these best-hidden places is the small beach community of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County.

Carpinteria is roughly 10 miles south of Santa Barbara, making it a perfect alternative destination to the latter.

It’s also an hour’s drive west of Los Angeles, making it a perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Carpinteria’s main street is filled with restaurants that offer casual and fine dining experiences, bars, bike paths, and shops, all adjacent to its white sand beach.

Its beach has tons of outdoor activities aside from the usual swimming and sunbathing, while other attractions offer you both a bit of history and nature.

Despite not having plush five-star hotels and resorts, Carpinteria has numerous choices when you want to spend a day or two there.

Plus, the town has numerous camping grounds adjacent to its pristine beach, equipped with all the needed amenities for a comfortable stay.

Carpinteria becomes much more alive after dark.

The town has several bars for a nice drink and a good laugh with your friends or loved ones.

So, what are all these amazing things being talked about in this town?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Carpinteria, CA:

Get Up Close with “Water Pups” at the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary

View of Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary

L Paul Mann /

The Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary is adjacent to the town’s old oil pier.

The sanctuary is a harbor seal rookery south of Carpinteria State Beach.

Despite their cuddly appeal, these seals are off-limit to the public.

View of Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary

L Paul Mann /

However, it’s still a wonderful opportunity for visitors to take photos with these animals at a closer distance.

A bluff above the sanctuary gives you a better view of these animals.

The perfect time to visit these seals is every morning and afternoon.

The Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary is located between Carpinteria Avenue and Bailard Avenue.

View of Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary

L Paul Mann /

Visit the Tomol Interpretive Play Area

This attraction in Carpinteria offers you a unique and fun-filled experience courtesy of the Morning Rotary Club of Carpinteria.

The park has a replica of the Chumash Village, which serves as the kids’ playground.

The park’s design aims to better understand California’s unique natural and cultural history.

Aside from the Chumash Village-inspired kids’ playground, the Tomol Interpretive Play Area also has life-sized statues of California’s native wildlife species.

The Tomol Interpretive Play Area is located between Dorrance Way and Linden Avenue.

Take Pictures with Alpacas at the Canzelle Alpacas

Get up close and take pictures with the cute and cuddly alpacas at the Canzelle Alpacas, an animal farm located at 4036 Foothill Rd, Carpinteria, CA.

Visiting this popular attraction in Carpinteria offers you a unique experience where you can interact with free-roaming alpacas, llamas, and a Philippine Water Buffalo named Archie.

Canzelle Alpacas is perfectly nestled on the rolling hills on the elevated area of Carpinteria.

The farm is a former citrus grove that operated in the 1920s by the Abbot Family until the Lonson Family moved and purchased the area in 2002.

The Lonson family established an alpaca fur business, which eventually became a popular tourist attraction.

Canzelle Alpacas is located at 4036 Foothill Rd, Carpinteria, CA, and it’s open from Friday to Sunday.

Visitors can roam around the farm from 11 am to 5 pm.

Hike Along the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

View of Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

RingDeer Enterprises /

If you want a relaxing hike while enjoying a scenic view, the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve is your perfect destination.

This natural attraction in Carpinteria is an open space located above the town’s hills that overlooks the entire stretch of the coastline.

Hiking on its trail is relatively easy, covering roughly two miles and 50-plus acres of nature preserve.

View of Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

RingDeer Enterprises /

Aside from the usual hike, you can come across California native animal species, such as birds, deer, and seals at the nearby Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary.

Overall, the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve is a recommended attraction in town if you want to take a break from visiting the beaches.

To visit this attraction in Carpinteria, it is at 5905 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria CA.

View of Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

RingDeer Enterprises /

Taste Excellent Craft Beer at the Island Brewing Company

This family-owned popular craft beer maker in Carpinteria has already been operating for two decades.

They are widely known for their freshly brewed ales made from their award-winning microbrewery located in the heart of Carpinteria.

They distribute their delicious craft beer to Santa Barbara County’s restaurants, shops, and bars.

They offer a huge assortment of flavorful ales along with their barrel-aged and seasonal brews.

If you want to taste their famous craft beer and other alcoholic beverages, you can visit their tasting room at 5049 6th St. Carpinteria, CA.

Their tasting room offers you not just delicious craft beer but also a wonderful view of the beach and the Channel Islands National Park.

The Island Brewing Company’s tasting room opens from 12 noon to 9 pm daily.

Stand Beside the Tallest Torrey Pine in the World

Carpinteria’s Wardholme Torrey Pine is the world’s tallest at 126 feet tall and is 130 years old already.

You can easily spot the Torrey Pine located along Carpinteria Avenue from a distance.

Torrey Pine is a rare species of pine tree, and the one in Carpinteria was planted as a seedling in 1888 by a town’s resident judge, Thomas Ward, to determine who can grow the biggest Torrey pine tree.

In 1968, the Wardholme Torrey Pine received well-deserved recognition by becoming Carpinteria’s first official landmark.

Your visit to Carpinteria won’t be complete without standing beside this colossal tree and taking pictures of it for a souvenir.

Spot Migratory Birds at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park

Despite the massive development of Southern California’s coastline, there are still parts where you can witness its natural beauty.

One of them is the 230-acre estuary, the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park, where local and migratory bird species thrive.

If you’re interested in bird watching, this protected nature preserve in town is your go-to place.

View of Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park

L Paul Mann /

The entire nature park covers around 1.2 miles of trail, perfect for hiking.

It is home to the county’s very important wetlands and marshes.

It’s where you will come across different bird species, both endemic and migratory.

You can take photos up close with great egrets, snowy egrets, migratory ducks, and birds.

Entering the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park is located at 5775 Carpinteria Ave.

Celebrate Arts at the Palm Loft Gallery

Aside from beaches and parks, Carpinteria is also home to wonderful works of art found at the Palm Loft Gallery at 410 Palm Avenue.

It’s considered a town gem because of its collection of artworks from well-known painters and underrated artists.

This beautiful art gallery is the congregation of local artists around Santa Barbara County.

The gallery’s artworks combine modern, contemporary, and traditional arts ranging from paintings, sculptures, and other artistic interpretations.

Dropping by at this gallery offers you a unique experience in Carpinteria aside from its beach and parks.

The Palm Loft Gallery is open from Friday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

Bike Along the Scenic Rincon Bike Trail

The Rincon Bike Trail is a biker’s haven because of its scenic view of the Pacific and Santa Barbara County’s beautiful coastline.

The bike trail stretches 3.6-miles long, which starts on the southern side of Carpinteria nearby Rincon Point and continues to the Mobil Pier Road.

Biking along the trail allows you to have a wonderful view of the Pacific and Channel Island while traversing a relatively paved concrete, making it perfect for bikers of all ages.

The trail continues to the old Highway 1, taking you out of Carpinteria to Hobson County Park.

Spoil Yourself at the Carpinteria State Beach

View of Carpinteria State Beach

David M. Schrader /

Carpinteria is a beach town, and it’s been known for its beautiful beach.

So, it’s a no-brainer to head straight to its beach, which is a few meters from the town center.

It’s not just your typical white sand beach—Carpinteria State Beach is one of the United States safest beaches.

The beach is also filled with outdoor activities like kayaking, canoeing, surfing, and marine mammal sightings.

You’ll commonly come across seals, dolphins, and whales along Carpinteria’s beach.

View of Carpinteria State Beach

Rachel Hoyt /

If you want a more relaxing time, you can stroll along the beach barefoot and discover pristine tide pools full of crustaceans, fish, and sea urchins that will surely add a lot of fun.

Ultimately, Carpinteria State Beach gives you that Socal experience people are talking about.

To reach this famous California beach, it’s along Palm Avenue in Carpinteria, California.

Carpinteria State Beach opens from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Uncover the Town’s History at the Carpinteria Valley Museum

You can channel your inner history buff and appreciate Carpinteria Valley’s history at the Carpinteria Museum.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum’s mission is to provide the public with a better understanding and appreciation of the area’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The museum offers you not just a glimpse but a closer look into Carpinteria’s past from its exhibits that feature its three major ethnicities that called the Carpinteria Valley their home.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum lets you uncover the history of the early Latin settlers, the Native American Chumash, and the American pioneers through well-preserved artifacts, photos, farming, and hunting equipment used back in the early days.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum is located at 956 Maple Avenue, CA.

The museum opens from 1 pm to 4 pm, but it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Stroll Along Linden Avenue

Linden Avenue is Carpineria’s main artery.

The whole avenue’s stretch offers you laid-back California feels because of its towering palm trees lining the streets, streets, restaurants, vibrant shops, and bicycle lanes that instantly give you a relaxing feeling.

To put it simply, Linden Avenue is warm, cool, and chic but less crowded than the famous Santa Monica and Santa Barbara.

You have the entire avenue all to yourself.

Despite its old California appeal, Linden Avenue has numerous modern establishments and amenities to cater to different necessities.

Get to choose from a wide array of international cuisines from Zooker’s Café, Carp Kitchen and Grocery, Little Dom’s Seafood, Siam Elephant, and Teddy’s By the Sea.

Plus, there are specialty shops and mainstream brands like Macy’s, Soap, Angels Antiques, Tidepools, Rincon Design, The Grapeseed Company, and Murphy’s Vinyl Shack.

Linden Avenue becomes more vibrant during the night since most of its restaurants shift to bars and pubs, creating an exciting nightlife.

Discover the Carpinteria Tar Pits

The Carpinteria Tar Pits is one of the very few natural asphalt lakes in the world.

In record, there are only five natural asphalt lakes that exist in the world; one of them is found in Carpinteria.

The Carpinteria Tar Pits has a designated area along the Carpinteria State Beach, which locals call the “Tar Pits Park.”

The second of the five tar pits in the world is found in Los Angeles, the famous La Brea Tar Pits.

What makes these tar pits fascinating is their vibrant history.

View of Carpinteria Tar Pits

Nigel French /

These tar pits have existed since the Pleistocene Age or the Ice Epoch or about 2.6 million years ago.

There is considerable evidence of prehistoric remains of elephants, wolves, bison, mastodons, and giant sloths that have been uncovered in these tar pits.

Who knows, you might come across one during your visit there?

Ultimately, these tar pits, including the one in Carpinteria, have preserved their natural state, including the shrubs, trees, grasses, and native plants.

The tar oozes out of the ground and flows along the beach, which is a pretty sight, especially for kids.

The Carpinteria Tar Pits is located at 5669 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria, CA.

Catch Waves at the Rincon Point State Beach

This popular surfing spot in California is located between Carpinteria and Highway 101.

It borders the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

Although the entire area has no shops, restaurants, or surfboard rentals, hundreds of surfers still visit this place to catch its perfect crescent waves, especially during the winter season.

Surfers worldwide consider Rincon Point one of the best destinations to surf, making it one of mainland United States’ premier surfing spots.

The Rincon Point State Beach opens from 6 am to 9 pm daily.

Watch Polo Games at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Carpinteria

If you want a more action-packed travel experience in Carpinteria, then head to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club at 3300 Via Real, Carpinteria, CA.

This famous polo-playing field has been operating since 1911.

It’s a must-visit place since it’s the United States’ third longest-running polo facility.

It’s also internationally recognized for its standard polo fields and hosts international polo competitions.

They regularly hold competitions for locals while they also offer polo tutorials.

The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club opens daily from 9 am to 8 pm.

Final Thoughts

Carpinteria has so many wonderful things to do, or perhaps it’s a place to serve as your base to explore Santa Barbara County and its neighboring counties.

However, Carpinteria alone is full of surprises and exciting outdoor activities to do.

Now that you’re finished reading this list of the 15 Best Things to do in Carpinteria, CA, it would be great to share this with your fellow wanderlusts, family, or friends.

Lastly, make sure to bookmark this post as your instant itinerary when you’re already in Carpinteria!

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