Carpinteria California is one of my favorite places for a family beach vacation. It's a small, low-key beach town 15 minutes south of Santa Barbara.
Linden Street is the town's short main street, with everything from a candy shop to burritos to sushi. At the end of Linden, you're at the beach.
To the left is Carpinteria State Beach and its campgrounds, while to the right is the City Beach.
The city beach is known as one of the safest swimming beaches because the waves are usually very calm, and it stays relatively shallow quite a ways out.(But always check with the lifeguard for any current or recently changed conditions.)
Wandering down the State beach is a fun activity. There are plenty of tide pools to explore. Towards the south end of the campgrounds is Tar Pits Park, a natural wonder.
Tar literally oozes out of the bluffs in molasses like waterfalls, solidifying at the base. The Chumash Indians used to build boats on this beach, using the tar to glue the wood planks together.
Warning: Your kid's clothes and shoes will be ruined by this natural tar, so make sure they look but don't touch. But it's extremely tempting.
Further down the beach are some nice trails through the bluffs.
On Linden Street you can jump on an open-air trolley called the Seaside Shuttle that does a big loop around the town and down to the beach. It's fun for an unofficial excursion and to get acquainted with the area when you first get there.
If you are in Carpinteria California for more than a day, a fun day trip is taking the Amtrak train into Santa Barbara. It's only a short jaunt, but lovely scenery. You can get out and walk around State Street or out on the pier for a bit, then come back.
At the state beach, you can camp right at the beach, under trees.More about camping at Carpinteria State Beach
Besides the campgrounds, there are a few choices for Carpinteria lodging in this cute little California beach town.
The Best Western Carpinteria Inn has Mediterranean style architecture, a small heated pool, a Jacuzzi and a lovely inner courtyard with fountains, which rooms open out on.
The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Carpinteria is an all suites hotel. A room with 2 queen beds and a sofa bed sleeps 6 people, handy for families. They have a nice pool, Jacuzzi and a pretty decent continental breakfast too. Check rates and reviews
The Sandyland Reef Inn is a small hotel within a mile of the beach. It has a pool and jacuzzi.
There are also a couple of Motel 6's in the area, one in the north end and one in the southern end.
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