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What to do during your stay at Solimar Sands

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Carpinteria Beach

Go to the Beach!

There are a number of excellent beaches in and around Carpinteria. The gorgeous long beach that fronts the ocean along the length of the city itself is actually considered two beaches - Carpinteria City Beach and Carpinteria State Beach. Southeast of the city is home to the famous Rincon Beach, which is world known for its great surfing. Northwest of the city is Padero Beach, popular with the locals.

When visiting Carpinteria beaches, there are a few important things to remember.

  • Bring your own supplies. The city and state beaches have complete facilities, but the others do not. In particular, bring water along since none of the beaches really have general stores nearby.
  • Wear beach sandals. The gel kind are perfect. Carpinteria is well endowed with tar that seeps up from the rocks along the coast. It is a natural phenomenon that can leave black sticky tar spots on the bottom of your feet and all over the inside of your car.
  • Bring and use sunscreen. It's very deceptive along the coast. The breezes are cool and the coast is often hazy. However, you are still dealing with Southern California sunshine. Most locals have an umbrella that they bring to extend the amount of time they can play in the sand.
  • Pick up after yourself. Although that's always a good idea, Padero and Rincon are fairly rural and any litter you leave is less likely to be picked up than on a more urban beach.
  • Keep an eye out for beach closures. The stretch of beach between the Bluffs and Tar Pits Park is closed from December through May because of seal pups. Some stretches are also closed at various times for bird hatching. You can and will be chased out of these areas so avoid the stress and respect those areas.
  • Dogs. Dogs are only allowed on the beach north of Ash Avenue.
  • Baby oil works well to remove the tar you pick up on your bare feet or shoes. To more easily remove the tar, rub a a bit of sand in with the oil. You'll find foot baths at each entrace to Solimar Sands.
Salt Marsh Park

Salt Marsh Park - excellent birdwatching & handicap accessible trails

The park, also known as El Estuaro, is one of the most important wetlands in Southern California. This beautiful, relatively unspoiled estuary is home to rare and endangered plants and birds. It is a haven for migrating birds, the foundation for much of the local food chain, as well as a nursery for marine fish.

  • Located directly across the street from Solimar Sands. All our our units in Building A enjoy spectacular views of the salt marsh.
  • Docent-led tours every Saturday at 10 am from May to November.
  • Entrances are along Ash Avenue bring you to nature paths and platforms for safely viewing the estuary.

The estuary totals 230 acres, 120 of which is owned by USCB as the Salt Marsh Reserve. The remainder is the Salt Marsh Nature Park, which is owned and operated by the City of Carpinteria.

Farmer's Market - fresh produce and locally made crafts

Although not as large as some of its northern cousins, you can always find a nice selection of veggies, fruit, flowers and assorted locally made crafts at excellent prices.

  • Every Thursday from 4 to 7 pm (3-6pm during in the winter).
  • This certified Farmer's Market spans the entire block in front of Vons in downtown Carpinteria.
Carpinteria Bluffs

Carpinteria Bluffs

52 acres of prime coastal property, the Carpinteria Bluffs feature fabulous views of the Santa Ynez mountains, the ocean and the Channel Islands. You can access the Seal Rookery from here. It is also home to such birds as the White-tailed Kite, the Loggerhead Shrike, American Kestrel, and Red-Tailed and Cooper hawks. Native plants include coastal sage scrub and stipa grasslands as well as several stands of non-native but impressive eucalyptus.

Carpinteria residents have fought to keep this space open and undeveloped for over 30 years. In 1996 residents decided to tackle the the problem a different way. Within a few years the dedicated conservation group managed to raise $3.95 million to purchase the Bluffs from landowners and another $500,000 to hold in trust for the preservation of the property. The land was deeded to the city in 2000 and is now safe from development and available for all of us to enjoy.

Directions: Take the 101 to Bailard Avenue. At the top of the ramp turn towards the ocean. Drive straight ahead into the parking lot.

naturally occuring tar oozes up out of the sand on the beach

Tar Pits

This wonderful, hidden park is one of the real treasures of the Carpinteria Parks Department. Many locals don't even know this is here! There are wonderful walking trails, vegetation restored as close to its natural state as possible, spectacular views and a real sense of privacy. You can usually see seals and sometimes dolphins in the water. The birds are numerous and varied.

Early explorers observed Chumash Indians building their large ocean-going canoes, called tomols, along these banks. You can still see the natural asphaltum oozing from the rocks (and all over your feet if you're not careful).

The thing we love the most about this park is you can start here (on middle to low tide), walk along the beach all the way to the Salt Marsh Estuary and back. It's about a two mile walk on clean white sand (except for the occasional spot of tar, but you get used to that pretty quickly) and probably one of the most beautiful walks anywhere.

This park doesn't have any facilities to speak of, unless you count the benches placed strategically along the way for gazing at the Channel Islands and abundant wild life. However, the State Park borders it.

Directions: From Carpinteria Avenue, take Concha Loma Avenue to Calle Ocho; park at the end of Calle Ocho and walk across the railroad tracks to the lookout point.

Santa Clause Lane - beaches, shops, dining

The famous Santa Claus statue on Santa Clause Lane greeted passerby's since 1950. After more than 50 years at its perch, Santa was removed to allow for renovation of the area. Santa Claus Lane is also home to a beautiful beach, restaurants, shops, and a number of private beach homes.

Isolated from the rest of Carpinteria by the estuary, Santa Clause Lane is a world of its own. The thing many like most about visiting Santa Claus Lane is its eclectic nature. You'll find a variety of shops ... from a surf shop to a sophisticated market with an excellent selection of Santa Barbara county wines. The restaurant selection is great too: The Grill at Pardaro and Smokin' Joes.

Directions: Take the 101 to Santa Claus Lane exit. Northbound: Turn left at the bottom of the exit and go back under the freeway. Turn left on Santa Claus Lane. Southbound: At the bottom of the exit there will be a stop sign. Go straight and you will be able to park along Santa Claus Lane.

It's possible to walk to Santa Claus Lane from Solimar Sands along the beach. But only at low tide! So be careful.

Seal Rookery

Harbor Seal Preserve and Rookery

One of the most interesting secrets of Carpinteria is the Harbor Seal Preserve. The preserve is home to almost 100 adult seals who give birth to their cubs on the Carpinteria shoreline. The beach is closed 750 feet on either side of the rookery (as their nesting area is called) from December through May. The seals are there all year long, but in the spring the cubs don't have the thick layer of fat that they need to protect themselves from the cold ocean waters.

There is a long standing debate about whether to publicize them and risk having the privacy and quality of life for these amazing animals be deteriorated or to keep mum about them and risk humans and dogs wandering into their home and possibly doing a great deal of damage. We think visitors will respect the seals - especially if they know that they know that there is a perfectly safe and wonderful way to watch the seals in their natural habitat.

You can visit the Preserve via the bluffs above the rookery rather than via the beach. The seals are fascinating to watch as they move in and out of the water, bask in the sun, argue amongst themselves and dive for fish. There will usually be a member of Seal Watch, a volunteer organization whose members monitor both seal and human activity.

Directions: The easiest thing to do is take the 101 to the Bailard Avenue exit. Turn towards the ocean and go into the Bluffs parking lot. From here you can follow the footpath that leads to down to the bluff, over the railroad tracks then along the bluff top to the seal rookery overlook. It is about a half a mile walk.

You can also walk all the way to the seal rookery from Solimar Sands. This beautiful walk is less than two miles (one-way). Start out along the beach and then cut in at the State Park so that you're walking along the tops of the bluffs (be sure to stay on the trail, the cliff edge is dangerous). Cross the Venoco parking lot and follow the short footpath to the seal rookery overlook.

Bike Trail

If you are around Linden Avenue and the City beach, there is a bike trail (the Coastal Vista Trail) that leads through Tar Pits State Park, then along the railroad tracks out to the seal rookery. From Linden it is more than a mile.

The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History and Flea Market

This museum highlights the three distinct cultures expressed throughout Carpinteria's long history - Chumash, Spanish and American. Exhibits are arranged generally as vignettes, with unique household objects, tools, and various larger antiques - such as a car - that give a taste of what life was like for the people involved. There is an interesting exhibit on the asphaltum mining operation that was important in the early 1900s.

A Flea Market is held on the grounds of the Museum on the last Saturday of the month. Booth fees contribute to the upkeep of the museum.

956 Maple Avenue
805-684-3112
Open: Tues - Sat, 1 to 4 pm
Admission is free but donations are appreciated

Directions: From the 101 take the Casitas Pass exit. Turn away from the mountains. At the light turn right. In about four blocks you will turn left onto Maple Avenue. There is parking on the street.

The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club has their beautiful facilities here in Carpinteria. If you like horses, sports, hockey, basketball or soccer, you stand a good chance of loving Polo. Each Sunday afternoon (except in the winter), you can attend a game even if you are not a member of the club. The fans even get involved at half time by going onto the field and stomping divots. Without a doubt, it's a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon! If you have never seen Polo, much less played it, make sure to visit their website. They have a great section on the rules and theories behind the game.

  • Polo games are held each Sunday through the Spring, Summer and Fall.
  • Tickets can be purchased at the gate
  • Box lunches, picnic baskets and beverages are available
  • Polo Game Times: 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm
  • Admission: $10.00 per person

Late each summer, the Pacific Coast Open really brings the field to life. The PCO Game Times: 1pm and 3pm. Cost is $10 - $15

3375 Foothill Road
Carpinteria, CA 93013
805-684-6683

Directions:

  • Northbound: Take the 101N to the Santa Claus Lane exit. At the stop sign, turn right and take an immediate left onto Via Real. Continue North 1/2 mile to the entrance of SBPRC, which is on your right.
  • Southbound: Take the 101S from Santa Barbara, through Montecito and Summerland. South of Summerland, take the Padaro Lane exit. At the stop sign, turn left and go back over the 101 to the stop sign. Turn right on Via Real and drive approximately 1 mile to the entrance for SBPRC, which is on your left.