Carp, as the locals call it, lies 12 miles southeast of Santa Barbara. The native Chumash used to build canoes here, using naturally seeping tar to seal the boats. When the Spaniards happened upon the boat builders in the late 1700s, they named the place carpinteria, or "carpentry shop."
Carpinteria is a quiet, coastal town with a charming main street peppered with family-owned restaurants and mom-and-pop shops. Stroll down the main drag, Linden Avenue, all the way to tranquil Carpinteria City Beach. Just a few steps down the sand, Carpinteria State Beach, known as the "World's Safest Beach," is bordered by the "Tar Pits," sticky embankments that the Chumash Indians used to waterproof their canoes. Farther south, visitors can walk across the bluffs and peer down to the harbor seal rookery where pups and their parents lounge on the beach.
For more outdoor adventure, drive just a couple miles south to Rincon Point, where you can watch surfers rip world-class waves. Then wind your way through the rural valley that stretches beneath the foothills and craggy mountains - it's filled with flower nurseries, polo fields, avocado farms and horse ranches.
If visiting in October, be sure to bring some chips and indulge in the most scrumptious guacamole you've ever tasted, as Carpinteria is home to California's yearly Avocado Festival. The city also offers a beautiful and eclectic selection of hotels and beach rentals for visitors to choose from.