Pixel Tracker

Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 7:38 am | Fair 47º


Donna Polizzi


Donna Polizzi: Sand, Sun and Seals Part of Carpinteria’s Small-Town Charm, Big-Time Appeal

There’s something for everyone amid the laid-back atmosphere of a classic California beach community

“The World’s Safest Beach” memorialized in mural form on the wall of Señor Frog’s at 892 Linden Ave. in downtown Carpinteria. Click to view larger
“The World’s Safest Beach” memorialized in mural form on the wall of Señor Frog’s at 892 Linden Ave. in downtown Carpinteria. (Donna Polizzi)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

It can be reinvigorating to step away from the busy-ness of life long enough to enjoy the unlimited treasures that are around every corner of every city on the Central Coast. Many of us, even those of us lucky enough to live in the midst of paradise, benefit by taking the time to explore the richness that abounds here.

It truly is a remarkable region, with breathtaking vistas, fun shopping, a tasting room everywhere you look, and so much to do that it would take numerous books to cover it all. And that’s why I drove down to Carpinteria the other day for a much-need break from work.

Several years ago, while living in Santa Barbara, I worked in the Carpinteria Valley. I didn’t realize it then, but I missed out big time because I never took the time to stroll through the 52-acre protected area that is now known as the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve or the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve. So I started there.

My hike began at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Park, at Sandyland Road and Ash Avenue. The picturesque, winding wood-plank path was lined with beautiful green plants and wildflowers that led to a sandy beach adjacent to the park.

The land was so peaceful and quiet. I could hear birds chirping, nearby waves crashing, but not much more. I’m a nature lover, and for a few hours, I slowed down long enough to relax, reflect and take pictures to capture the moments.

A mile or so to the east, the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve on eastern Carpinteria Avenue provides a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary.

It was so much more than I expected. The ocean sparkled in the deepest blue imaginable.

To add to my delight, I discovered that January through May is the season when the harbor seals give birth to their pups on Carpinteria State Beach. At the time I visited, there were 63 new pups!

The bluffs are the perfect place to view these adorable wing-footed mammals. The Channel Islands were the backdrop, and they seemed close enough to hit with a pebble. Large yellow wildflowers dotted the landscape and fragrant eucalyptus filled the crisp, clean air.

Linden Avenue, downtown Carpinteria’s main street, has the feel of a classic small beach town. It’s the perfect place to stroll after a hike. This charming street leads directly to the beach and is lined with a variety of restaurants, wine-tasting rooms and specialty shops crammed with antiques, crafts, art and history.

Linden Avenue is also home to Robitaille’s, a candy shop at 900 Linden Ave. whose claim to fame is providing mints to President Ronald Reagan.

Island Brew Company, at 5049 Sixth St. just off Linden Avenue, is where locals hang out to end their day with a cold micro-brew and some lively conversation.

I confess to being a foodie and to loving Mexican food, and Carpinteria doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed lunch at Delgado’s Mexican Restaurant, 4401 Carpinteria Ave. This family-owned cantina has been there for decades and has some of the best cheese enchiladas I’ve ever had.

A local shared that Delgado’s is also known for its huge margaritas and reasonable prices. Few things rival sitting out on the patio with friends in beautiful, year-round weather, munching on chips and salsa while enjoying a generously prepared margarita.

Sandlyland Road is a quintessential beachfront street, filled with charming rentals that you can reserve for a night or a week. A few blocks to the east is the popular state campground, located right on what is affectionately known as “The World’s Safest Beach.”

The Tomol Interpretive Play Area and picnic area is right next to it. You can’t find a better place for a family to have fun, relax and play together. And nearby Linden Field makes throwing a Frisbee while enjoying the ocean breeze an absolute must.

Carpinteria is the southern gateway to Santa Barbara County. It is home to some of the Central Coast’s most valuable, protected environmental resources. Enjoying the natural habitat and the plethora of interesting things to do in the 2½-square-mile town are the ingredients for a delightful getaway.

I snuck away for a few hours, and it wasn’t near enough. Next time I go, I think I’ll take Amtrak and stay for a long weekend.

One day away can rejuvenate the soul, give perspective and refresh us in ways that change our course for the better. So take a break, get up and get out there!

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a Central Coast travel resource providing members with a customized list of recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >