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I love the mountains, except for one thing – the ocean is a day’s car ride away! Because it’s so far, when we go to the beach, we stay at the beach. That’s what I like about Carpinteria State Beach in Southern California. There’s not many places were you can sleep so close to the big ocean blue.
Even with 200 sites, Carpinteria State Beach Campground is busy place. Reservations are snatched up the moment they become available (six months in advance) so make sure you’re on the ReserveAmerica website early if you want a spot. Plus, it’s not cheap. An individual site runs 45.00 a night minimum, not counting hookups, extra parking or tax.
With that said, Carpinteria State Beach Campground is one of the best places around for family beach camping. The mile long beach is sandy and beautiful, with a smooth, consistent break that’s great for boogie boarding. Plus the morning tide pools are amazing (more on that in my next post). When you’ve had enough sun for the day, kids can bike around the campground road and along the nearby community trail to the park’s playground.
On our trip we stayed with Mountain Dad’s sister and several family friends at the Heron Group site, located next to the showers and with easy access to HWY 101 and the Carpinteria community. The flush bathrooms and showers were cleaned regularly, although with hundreds of people using them daily it was hard to tell at times.
One word to the wise – lock up your food. Raccoons, seagulls, chipmunks, birds, and many other critters are fearless when it comes to raiding your cooler. We had a raccoon devour all the eggs from one cooler, leave muddy paw prints in another and while cleaning up the mess a seagull came and stole a string cheese right out from under us.
The views from other beaches may be prettier (I’m not a huge fan of oil rigs in the distance, but I am a fan of driving so I guess I can’t complain too much) but Carpinteria State Beach Campground is still worth a stay. Even our mountain family had a blast.
Carpinteria State Beach Campground Info
Location: 12 miles south of Santa Barbara on US 101 take the Casitas Pass Road exit heading west. Turn right at the light, then left on Palm Avenue. Follow Palm all the way to the ocean.
Price: 45.00 – 290.00 per night depending on individual or group sites.
Benefits: SO close to the beach, hot showers, flush toilets, picnic table, family friendly and the tidepools are amazing.
Drawbacks: Price, lots of people and fearless scavenging animals