Only 19 miles northwest of Ventura, California, rests the charming beachside community of Carpinteria. Referred to as “Carp” by locals, this coastal gem of a town makes for a lovely day trip. The Main Street, Linden Avenue, has delicious cafes, antique stores, and mom-and-pop shops. Meanwhile, Carpinteria State Beach, is a sparkling mile stretch of sandy beach with over 200 campsites within the campground area. The name “Carpinteria” came about because of the Chumash tribe, which lived in the area, had a seafaring canoe-building business or “carpentry shop” here. The naturally-occurring surface tar in the area was perfect for waterproofing the vessels!
From Ventura, we hopped on the Amtrak train to Carpinteria. Tickets average $10.90 one way, on the Pacific Surfline, and the trip is a speedy 20 minutes.
We arrived in Carp and hit the beach! This beach has been named the world’s “safest beach.” Hike or bike south along the bluffs (the Coastal Vista Trail), this mile trek will lead you through Tar Pits State Park, then along the railroad tracks out to the seal sanctuary and rookery! For the best view, bring binoculars and observe from the bluffs! From December 1 through May 31st this area is a protected birthing habitat for seals.
Around lunchtime we took a break from sunbathing and ventured into town. The Spot, a hamburger stand that has been serving burgers and fries for over 50 years was calling our name! Their classic beach burger with ground beef, American cheese, fresh tomato, crisp lettuce, dill pickle and thousand island dressing hit the spot!
From here we continued walking down to Rincon Designs Surf Shop. Owner and Carpinteria native Matt Moore has been a board shaper since he was a kid, and he opened Rincon Designs in 1980. This store has a wonderful collection of beach apparel, shorts, sundresses, sunglasses, and really cool Rincon branded swag. They also rent wetsuits and boards!
We continued to poke around town, enjoying the quaint shops lining the street. It was soon time for an afternoon coffee and treat! Crushcakes & Cafe is where it is at! Cupcakes are their specialty, but the kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch until 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and until 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
As the day wound down we moseyed back towards the train station with our delicious lattes. Right next to the train station you’ll find the Carpinteria Garden Park. This stunning community garden space opened to community members in early November. It is composed of 104 raised garden beds, as well as a fruit tree orchard and Chumash foraging garden planted with edible and medicinal native plants. It also serves as an educational center! This is a great place to pass the time while waiting for your train!
A little fun fact: Carpinteria Valley is the largest producer of cut flowers in the country! There are two nurseries open to the public, Seaside Gardens and Island View Nursery, that are totally worth checking out if you have the time!