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Shopping

Carpinteria’s Linden Avenue Offers a Vibrant Shopping Experience Without the Hustle or the Hassle

Whether buying or browsing, originality and personality amid beach town’s laid-back atmosphere will suit you just fine

With two locations in downtown Carpinteria, Whimsy features carefully curated vintage furnishings as well as newly commissioned pieces that will put a smile on your face.
With two locations in downtown Carpinteria, Whimsy features carefully curated vintage furnishings as well as newly commissioned pieces that will put a smile on your face. (Hilary Doubleday / Noozhawk photo)

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There may be better-known and higher-profile shopping areas in Santa Barbara County, but when it comes to charm, authenticity and a laid-back atmosphere, it’s hard to beat Linden Avenue in the heart of Carpinteria.

“Linden Avenue is the last of a bygone era, in one of the last great seaside towns in California,” proclaimed Gina Andrews, owner of Bon Fortune, which sells party goods and more at 929 Linden Ave.

A stroll down Linden does remind one of a different time in California’s history. Linden’s blocks lead due south and dead end into Carpinteria Beach, known far and wide as “The World’s Safest Beach.”

Walking along the street, you’ll discover a mom-and-pop barbershop next door to a home furnishings store, which is next door to a little grocery store. It’s a far cry from the blocks and blocks of brand-name stores so prevalent these days.

Notably, when you step inside each of these stores, you’re likely to meet the owner of the shop. You’ll also notice that the goods being sold are not the ubiquitous, barcoded items that we’ve all become accustomed to seeing.

There is a lot of personality and originality on Linden Avenue. Bookended with great places to grab a beer and a bite, Linden is a perfect weekend meandering ground, not only a fun way to spend an afternoon but an easy place to find treasures that will differentiate and add personality to your home.

“Linden Avenue is like a slice of heaven cake,” exclaimed Joyce Donaldson, president and CEO of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Filled with both residents and visitors, the shops and restaurants are a flurry of activity — even more so at Christmas.”

A walk on Linden could start with a beer and a burger at Rincon Brewery. Located at 5065 Carpinteria Ave., the brewpub is just around the corner from Linden. It opened last October and features classic pub food like tacos, burgers, and fish and chips. The chicken and beef are organic and the beer is brewed on the premises.

General manager Chris Allen explained that the restaurant is 95 percent eco-friendly.

“We spend a bit more with the clear idea that it was the right thing to do and also that it’ll come back to us — that our customers will like it,” he told Noozhawk.

The next stop definitely should be Whimsy, especially for those looking to bring something different home.

There are actually two Whimsy stores in Carpinteria. Whimsy at 5042 Seventh St. is tucked around the corner from Whimsy at 963 Linden Ave.

Both stores are owned by the creative duo of Karen and Alan Clark, trained artists and photographers.

The name of the store says it all. Whimsy is about having fun with home décor. The store features carefully curated vintage furnishings as well as newly commissioned pieces that will bring something fresh and surprising to your home.

Just across the street from Whimsy are two more fun stops. The aforementioned Bon Fortune has been open for almost two years. After specializing in events for children for several years, Andrews opened the store to offer truly unique and colorful items that she calls “party details.”

The things in the store are sourced worldwide, Andrews explained. The store also has become a bit of an incubator for creative artists who started here and are now launched and running successful businesses.

“It feels great to support local artists in this way,” she added.

Homestead Antiques & Trading Co. is located just up the street, at 943 Linden Ave., and is an antique collective featuring everything from kitchen gadgets to larger pieces of furniture. Owner Beth Ann was in the store when Noozhawk stopped by and learned that it originally was located on Brinkerhoff Avenue in Santa Barbara.

It’s a good spot to find something out of the ordinary, and with a bit of history, for the home.

After all this shopping, you might want a little pick-me-up as you continue your walk toward the beach. Robitaille’s Fine Candies, 900 Linden Ave., has been satisfying sweet cravings for more than 40 years. It is famous for its creamy “presidential” mints that are known to melt on your tongue.

If candy is not your thing, the Beach Bowl frozen yogurt and more across the street at 901 Linden Ave. might do the trick.

If in the mood for a more sophisticated bistro meal, you will not want to miss Sly’s, at 686 Linden Ave. Chef James Sly’s shoestring onion rings are unmatched.

The Palms, a grill-it-yourself steak place at 701 Linden Ave., cater-cornered from Sly’s, has been unchanged for at least 30 years and has a loyal following all its own.

As you walk south, things get beachier. You’ll pass Traveling Pants, an upscale resale boutique for children at 768 Linden Ave., and then Tidepools, at 619 Linden Ave., a store that will bring the ocean into your home with its large selection of seashells, sea glass jewelry and assorted things nautical.

At the end of Linden is another long-standing favorite called The Spot, at 389 Linden Ave. If you skipped the burger at Rincon Brewery, here’s your second chance. At The Spot, you order your burger on the sidewalk and then can walk a few feet to eat it at the beach with your toes in the sand.

Donaldson pointed out that the fun doesn’t end there, noting that Linden Field and the Tomol Interpretive Play Area are “popular destinations for families, picnics, sporting events and movies in the park.”

“Enjoy a slice of downtown Carpinteria during the holidays as it is sure to fulfill your sweet tooth,” she said.

— Noozhawk contributing writer Hilary Doubleday can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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