Camping is our favorite outing. Nothing beats the fresh air and being close to nature. My kids love playing in the water so we try to find campsites near the beach. Carpinteria is our all time favorite campsite. Due to its location it books way in advance and consider yourself lucky to find a spot at any given weekend of the year.
THE CAMPGROUND: There are 4 campgrounds within the campsite Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa. There is camping option for both tents and RVs. You can book for large groups or just for your family. It is located off US 101 and is approx. 12 miles south of Santa Barbara. Within the campsite there is a Visitors Center and Rangers Center. Each camping spot has a picnic table, fire ring and water faucet. Each campground has bathrooms and washing stations and paid hot showers. Check-in time is 2pm and Checkout time is 11 am. The Amtrak station is at walking distance and the train tracks are almost next to the campgrounds. You can see the trains passing multiple times during the day. There are a lot of food joints within walking distance.
OUR CAMPING EXPERIENCE: We camped for two nights which meant more time to enjoy the beach and the campsite. One of our friends also joined us which made out trip more enjoyable. We arrived at the campsite around 2 pm. Our spot was on the Anacapa campground which is next to the Carpinteria State Park. Our camp hosts Barbara and Jerry were super helpful and friendly.
Our camp spot had a lot of shrubs and small trees and fitting two tents side by side was impossible. We ended up setting them almost perpendicular to each other. Also the parking was laid at such an angle that it was impossible to fit two cars. Eventually, after unloading we had to park one of the cars in the general beach parking which was across the campsite. This is not the issue with all camp spots.
After setting up the tents and other stuff we decided to hit the beach. It was a bit windy but the warmth of the sun made it really enjoyable. The kids played in the water and the adults enjoyed beachside walk. The beach was clean with a lot of shells and interesting rocks. By the time we came back to the campsite everyone was drained. We all gathered around the fire ring and enjoyed yummy BBQ and board games. We were soo tired that we slept the moment we hit the sleeping bags. Luckily no train passes through the night so all you enjoy is the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. Soo calming.
For breakfast we had homemade croissant sandwiches with mortadella and the kids enjoyed waffles. My younger son has food allergies so we ended up making gluten-free, dairy free grilled cheese sandwich. I thoroughly recommend investing in a nice Pie Iron as it was super easy to warm up the sandwiches and also make grilled cheese with it. After breakfast we just chilled around the fire ring and later hit the beach. Initially we had decided to drive to the city for lunch but as the kids were having a blast we decided to eat at the beach.
After resting for a bit the kids went to the Tom Interpretive play area which has cool tomols (boats) and dolphin statues to climb on and very interesting slide structures. It is It is very modern and chic. It’s a fun place for both the kids and adults. We enjoyed making smores and popping jiffy popcorn at night. The jiffy pop experiment was meh. Next time we will get pre popped popcorn.
The best part of our trip was heading to the beach after sunset and sitting under the dark sky enjoying the stars. The kids were amazed to see soo many stars and the oil rigs looked like lit up ghosts ships from afar. Not everyday do you get to enjoy a calm beach with the waves singing and the stars shining in all their might on a pitch black background.
The next day after packing up and loading the cars we went to “The Spot”, a beach side fast food restaurant. We enjoyed burgers and shrimp. It is cash only place so if you decide to eat here make sure you have money. Their shakes an floats are super yummy too. Later the kids grabbed ice cream from Rainbow ice-cream and Yogurt parlor. A bit pricey but totally worth the money.
We also went to Siam Elephant. You can read the review at:
FINAL VERDICT: Carpinteria is like city camping without the city feel. I know it is beachside but still within the city and you do not feel as if you are camping in the wild.If you want to enjoy beachside camping but away from the crowds, go to Carpinteria State Beach. Convenience store, Amtrak, restaurants are within walking distance so even if you pack just your camping gear you will be good to go. It is a kids friendly campsite. Clean bathrooms stocked with hand soap and paid hot showers.
If you are thinking of doing one family outing this summer, camp at Carpinteria State Beach Campgrounds. The whole family will enjoy.