Just a short drive down from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria is a central coast gem, with striking mountain views, beautiful beaches and wonderful small-town charm. Though it may be small (with a population of just over 13,000), the town has a lot to offer for visitors who enjoy spending time outdoors—from hiking, biking, surfing and just being an observer of nature. Carpinteria is the perfect place to spend time for a few hours or a few days and can be enjoyed with great temperatures and conditions almost year-round. Whether you are just passing through or here for a visit with friends and family, Carpinteria has some of the best offerings in coastal California. Here are just a few ideas on how to enjoy nature best in one of California’s most beautiful cities.
Observe Nature at Carpinteria Seal Harbor Preserve and Rookery
Observe seals in their natural habitat at the Carpinteria Seal Harbor Preserve and Rookery, which is a stop off the Coastal Vista Trail. The trail leads to an overlook where you can watch the seals sunbathe, splash around in the water and tend to their seal cubs. The Carpinteria Seal Harbor Preserve and Rookery is home to 100 seals who live their lives and have their babies on the shore. The rookery is a unique place to spend your time in Carpinteria and is just one of four like it in the whole state of California. The seal harbor preserve is a protected birthing place for the seals from December 1–May 31 every year, so be sure to stop by and bring your binoculars when you visit to get great views. The seal rookery typically gets crowded in its peak season, so come early to grab a seat on a bench and get a rare opportunity to watch these curious creatures in their natural habitat.
Catch Some Waves at Carpinteria State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach is known as “the world’s safest beach,” and is arguably one of the most beautiful as well. Spend the day building sandcastles, exploring the long stretches of sand and even catching some waves on a boogie board or trying your hand at surfing. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can try to surf one of the most famous surf spots in the world—Rincon Point. However, you could also take the leisurely route and rent an innertube during the summer months so you can lazily ride the waves.
As you sit and watch the waves from the shore, be sure to look out for common ocean passersby, including dolphins, seals and even the occasional whale. In the mood to explore some of the beach’s animal life? Carpinteria State Beach is also home to tidepools that are filled with starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchin. Be sure to also enjoy Carpinteria State Beach’s volleyball nets, barbecues, picnic tables and snack shack as you soak up the sun.
Walk the Trails at Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve
You can’t really get any better views than when you walk the trails at the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. Enjoy ocean and mountain views from the trail, where you will often find runners, bikers and dog walkers taking leisurely strolls through the path, which is lined with sage and brush. The trail has easy parking on Bailard Avenue, which is just right off the 101, and begins very near the parking lot. If you head south on the trail toward the ocean, it’s just a quick walk to one of Carpinteria’s best outdoor attractions—the seal rookery—but the trail also takes you down to the beach where you can continue exploring down on the shoreline where there are tidepools and views of the Channel Islands. The Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve is a great way to spend the day in Carpinteria, with picturesque views and its perfect opportunities to observe nature.
Looking for a delicious breakfast or a patio lunch in Carpinteria?
Jack’s Bistro & Famous Bagels, located in both Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, offers healthy and wholesome California cuisine. Whether you’re a lifetime local or you’re just passing through the beautiful Central Coast, we’ll be sure to treat you just like family when you’re at Jack’s.