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Things to Do in Carpinteria California

Want to find the perfect beach town on the California coast? Carpinteria has beautiful beaches, cute shops, cafes, restaurants, lots of fun outdoor activities including some great surfing.

Carpinteria California is one of the best small towns in the USA.

The pleasant climate of the California coast allows for year round outdoor adventures and lots fun things to do in and around Carpinteria.

The population of Carpinteria is only around 13,000 and it’s got the relaxed pace and chill vibe of a surfer town.

In this post you’ll find over 20 things to do in Carpinteria California.        

Even though we cannot always go to the beach, we can always DREAM of going to the beach, and plan for a future vacation.


Best Things to do Carpinteria California.


Do you know why this small beach town is called Carpinteria?

Carpinteria is the Spanish word for carpentry. When Spaniards came to the region is the 1700s, they observed the Chumash Indians building wooden plank canoes along the coast, so they called it La Carpinteria – the carpentry shop.


View of the Pacific Ocean and coastline from atop Carpinteria Bluffs

Hiking the coastline around Carpinteria is extraordinary


How to Get to Carpinteria

The closest airport to Carpinteria is Santa Barbara (airport code SBA) and it’s only 20 miles away so it’s an easy drive on Hwy 101.

Or take a taxi or ride share and leave the driving to someone else. Uber and Lyft both offer service to/from the Santa Barbara airport.

Los Angeles airport (LAX) is 85 miles (135 km) from Carpinteria so it’s easy to fly into LA and get a rental car for your vacation. You could take a road trip on California Highway 1 and enjoy the coastline views.


Harbor seal pup in foreground and adults in background

Seal pupping season is an amazing time to visit Carpinteria


Weather in Carpinteria

The central California coast enjoys a pleasant climate year round. The coldest month is generally December and the warmest is August.

  • Winter average highs 70 degrees (21 C) with most days in the mid-60s (19 C)
  • Spring average highs in the 70s (low to mid-20s C)
  • Summer average highs in the mid-80s (mid to high 20s C)
  • Fall average highs in mid-70s to low 80s (mid to high 20s C)

Spring through fall is the dry season. And winter months of December, January, and February bring the highest chance of precipitation, with an average of 3 – 4 inches of rain per month.

The best time to visit Carpinteria is the shoulder season if you want fewer tourists and slightly cheaper rates for lodgings. Shoulder season in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara is late spring and early fall.

Winter is an excellent time for a Carpinteria vacation because the weather is nice but if you enjoy warm days on the beach then you should visit Carpinteria in June, July, or August.


Sand dollar on a sandy beach

Sand dollar on the beach in Carpinteria


Carpinteria Things to Do

What makes Carpinteria an amazing place for a vacation is the variety of fun things to do outdoors. Check out this list of cool things to do in and around Carpinteria California.

1. Beach walks – You can enjoy a bunch of beaches around Carpinteria, all within a few minutes drive

2. Surfing and surf lessons are an excellent way to spend the day outdoors

3. Tide pools at low tide are fun to explore and search for sea life


Surfer atop a wave in California

Riding the waves in California


4. Tar pits are naturally occurring and interesting to see. The Chumash Indians used tar to help seal their wooden canoes

5. Visit the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History

6. Beachcombing for sea glass is excellent at Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara


Colorful beach glass, shells, and rocks at the Carpinteria Bluffs beach

Beachcombing treasures are abundant in Carpinteria


7. Eat fresh seafood in the restaurants and cafes of Carpinteria

8. Kayaking is a fun way to explore the coast from the water

9. See thousands of Monarch Butterflies in Goleta


Hundreds of monarch butterflies cluster on a tree

So many monarch butterflies!


10. Take a coastal hike and enjoy the views of the ocean

11. Visit the Harbor Seal Rookery and watch seal pups come into the world

12. Take a scenic drive to Hearst Castle for a tour of the estate


Blue, gold, and white tiles around elegant indoor swimming pool at Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle indoor swimming pool is beautifully adorned in tile


13. Santa Barbara day trip for history, beach glass, botanical gardens, plus wonderful shops and cafes

14. Enjoy a Solvang wine tasting tour

15. Go Fishing for your supper


Red tiled rooftops and stark white walls of the Santa Barbara Courthouse

Take a day trip to Santa Barbara from Carpinteria


16. Shop the Farmers Market for fresh California fruits, vegetables, pastries, preserves, and crafts

17. Wander the Botanic Garden with beautiful plants and flowers

18. Birdwatching is excellent around Carpinteria


Strawberries, jam, tomatoes, avocado, lemon, medjool dates, and orchid flowers.

Farmer’s market finds – fresh food and fresh flowers in abundance


19. Spend an afternoon in Downtown Carpinteria at the shops, cafes, and restaurants

20. Take a dip in the Outdoor public swimming pool – especially pretty at night under the stars

21. Watch the sunset on the beach every night


Rocky beach with orange and yellow sunset against cloudy sky over the water

Sunset is the perfect time for a beach walk in Carpinteria


Is Carpinteria a Good Place to Live?

So, it’s a nice place to visit but would you want to live here? I was seriously considering whether I wanted to live in Carpinteria full time after my visit.

After spending a month in Carpinteria I can say I loved living in this beautiful beach town. The small town vibe is my kind of place and I always felt safe in Carpinteria.

If you love the outdoors, then you will enjoy Carpinteria. There is always something to do outside, from fishing, surfing, beach walks, hiking, or watching the sunset on the beach.

In addition, there are several key places for observing nature in unique ways that you can’t see elsewhere.

The Seal Rookery is an important protected area for the seals to give birth in the winter. Pupping season is from December 1 to May 31, and the seal sanctuary is a protected birthing habitat during this time.

In nearby Goleta you can hike along the coast and see Monarch Butterflies clustered in the thousands as they overwinter in the mild California coastal region.

There are always pros and cons of living anywhere, so here is my list of pros and cons of living in Carpinteria California.


Snowy egret standing on a rock

Snowy egret looking elegant while watching out for dinner


Pros of living in Carpinteria

Small town vibe

Beaches – enjoy lots of beaches near Carpinteria

Climate is great – mild winters

Community – easy to meet people

Food/Restaurants – Great restaurants and an excellent farmer’s market

Safety – the crime rate is low in Carpinteria

Transportation – Amtrak stops in Carpinteria so easy access to San Diego through to San Luis Obispo and destinations in between including Anaheim, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara.

Airport close by in Santa Barbara and LA is only 85 miles away

Cons of living in Carpinteria

Cost of living is high – any beach town in California has a high cost for renting or buying a house.

Transportation could be an issue. A car is a big plus if you want to travel on your own schedule and beyond the Amtrak destinations.

The pros outweigh the cons if you have the budget to live in Carpinteria. But it’s always a spectacular choice for a California weekend getaway or beach vacation.

If you have any questions or recommendations about Carpinteria please leave them in the comments section below.

Have fun exploring California!

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Sunday 16th of October 2022

This was extremely helpful! Thank you for doing this 💕

Ms. Yna

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Thank you much! This is very helpful.

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