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A Day Trip to Carpinteria
Carpinteria is a small beach town with an outsized heart. Most people whiz through while driving the 101, or stop for gas on their way to Santa Barbara or Ventura, and that’s a shame – walking, nature viewing, and shopping are just a few of the activities offered by this friendly area. As an alternative to driving, why not take Amtrack? Trains leave roughly every hour, and while it’s more expensive than driving (a round-trip ticket will set you back around fifty dollars), it’s scenic and less stressful than taking the freeway.
If you’ve decided to take the freeway, use the Linden Avenue exit, and head towards the ocean – that’s a left for those exiting the northbound 101. You’ll find a public parking lot in a few blocks, right near the Amtrack station. (Yes, the train is convenient as well as scenic!) From here, you’re two blocks from the beach, but why not start your day by visiting the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History? The free attraction is is small but well curated. Volunteer docents will be glad to walk with you and point out curiosities; pieces include Native American pottery, furniture, vintage automobiles, machines from farm and industry, household furnishings, and textiles including a wall-sized quilt made to commemorate the history of the area. The museum isn’t government supported, so any donations left will be very much appreciated.
After your dose of history, it’s time for a bit of shopping. Across from the museum, Roxane’s A Wish and A Dream beckons. This unusual store offers supplies for quilting, embroidery, knitting, and crocheting. In addition, you will find uncommon gift items here. Even if you’re not a crafter, you’ll enjoy viewing the beautiful finished items on display. When you’re done here, make your way to 7th Avenue to check out the antiques at Whimsy, or head back to Linden Avenue to wander through the clothing and candy stores.
Through all of this, the shoreline beckons at the end of Linden Avenue. When you arrive, you’ll no doubt want to stop and just sit on the strand, watching the waves. The beach is fairly wide, with soft sand perfect for a towel or beach chair, and it’s tempting to spend the rest of the day here with a book or magazine. There’s usually a good stiff breeze, so bring a kite to play with!
When you’re ready to walk again, you can follow the beach south for as long as you like. You’ll pass through the Carpinteria State Park campground, past the lagoon, and up a wooden staircase to the bluffs. Keep walking, and you’ll come to the seal preserve, where you are almost guaranteed to see these animals on the beach. There are enough side trails to provide an afternoon’s worth of easy hiking, with the clean ocean air providing lots of de-stressing ions to temper any city blues.
All of this walking will eventually make you hungry. When you’re ready to stop for food, there are many choices in town – but Rincon Brewery is one of the best. Right around the corner from the Historical Museum, this brewpub offers craft beers and a menu of burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex. Vegetarian choices abound (and are well prepared!), and the prices are reasonable. If you’re driving, enjoy the soft drinks and resolve to return by train to take advantage of the extensive beer menu!
Disclaimer: I am not associated with any of the places profiled here. I paid for my shopping and food with my own funds.
Carpinteria Valley Historical Museum, 956 Maple Avenue, Carpinteria, Carpinteriahistoricalmuseum.org
Roxanne’s A Wish and a Dream, 919 Maple Street, Carpinteria (805) 566-1250. Roxannequilts.com
Whimsy – 5042 7th Street, Carpinteria (805) 684-7211
Rincon Brewery, 5065 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria (805) 684-6044, rinconbrewery.com
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