Located in the town of Carpinteria, only 12 miles south of Santa Barbara and shrouded by the towering hills of Santa Ynez, lies a modest 62-acre recreation area with more than 4,600 feet of beachfront. The original inhabitants of the land were Chumash peoples, who called the area mishopshnow, which roughly translates to “correspondence.” The Chumash used the area’s resources for crafts, such as bowls, effigies, and beads.
The area also boasts rich tar deposits that were utilized for multiple purposes, one of which was paving the roads of Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara campers and Carpinteria campers love to come here to beat the summer heat, but the park’s beauty beckons visitors from all across the state as well. Guests can enjoy a variety of water-based activities and see harbor seals basking on the rocks as well as gulls and coastal bird species feeding on the shoreline. During December and mid-May, you're likely to spot gray whales as they're going to or coming back from their breeding grounds.
Carpinteria State Beach is a perfect summer getaway, with a spacious campground and all the amenities you need for an RV camping trip. Search for RV rentals in nearby cities like Ventura and Oxnard, or book an RV in Santa Barbara County instead.
Carpinteria State Beach is a popular swimming and surfing area, with a few secluded spots ideal for fishing. There's also a lifeguard on duty, so you can swim, fish, and surf without worrying about safety. Low tide makes this place ideal for exploring tide pools. Keep your camera at the ready to snap a photo of sea lions basking on the rocks nearby.
Camping at Carpinteria State Beach also provides plenty of family-friendly fun. Tomol Interpretive Play Area is a great place to start, as it honors the culture and history of the native Chumash tribes. The area boasts a cloudburst slide, a rainbow bridge, a Tomol canoe, cave art, and aquatic mammals. This is a great way for kids to play the day away while also learning about the area's indigenous peoples.
As mentioned, the park is famous for its tar pits, and you can see them up close. Back in the 1920s, a number of fossilized plants and animals were excavated from these pits, and the natives used the tar in order to make their cones waterproof.
Camping at Carpinteria State Park
There are four state park campground loops and over 200 campsites at Carpinteria State Beach. Two of these loops feature sites with electric and water hookups, whereas other loops have primitive camping sites. Guests also have access to amenities such as tables, fire rings, a dump station, and restrooms. Bear in mind that the showers here are coin-operated.
Pets are also allowed in the RV campgrounds at Carpinteria State Beach, but they must be kept on a leash. Sites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet in length, so bear that in mind when looking for a camper rental.
Exploring the Area
As the state park campgrounds are located in Carpinteria, you should have no trouble finding convenience or grocery stores nearby. If you get tired of preparing your own meals and having picnics at the beach, fear not. The town has a variety of dining options, including sushi, Mexican, Italian, Thai, pizza, fast food, and many more.
On your Carpinteria State Beach camping trip, take time to explore the town of Carpinteria as well as the city of Santa Barbara. While in Carpinteria, you can visit the Carpinteria Museum of History. The museum features a collection of Chumash artifacts used for hunting and gathering. You can also see items used during the Mexican cattle ranching period, in addition to Victorian furniture, items used for tar gathering and extracting oil, and many more exhibits.
If you decide to go to Santa Barbara, take some time and visit the city zoo. The zoo houses over 140 animal species, and you'll even get to interact with some of them. The zoo contributes to conservation efforts and supports the protection of endangered species and their habitats. If you're traveling with your kids, you can sign them up for the zoo camp, where they can feed the animals, participate in fun hands-on activities, and more.
Another important historic site is Lotusland, a botanical garden located on the grounds of the former home of Madame Ganna Walska. This historic estate has an impressive collection of lotus plants, and also organizes educational events, programs, and tours. This is an amazing chance to see the incredible biodiversity of the region, making it another great learning opportunity for kids.
Carpinteria State Park, CA is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Carpinteria State Park. Outdoorsy's Carpinteria State Park RV rental marketplace allows renters to choose from rental options from professional RV rental agencies as well as RVs for rent by owner.