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Just 15 minutes from Santa Barbara along Highway 101 south, is the small beach town of Carpinteria. With the relaxed atmosphere of a much earlier California surf community, it is blessed with sugar white sand dunes and a wide beach on one side and rolling hills dotted with avocado farms and horse ranches on the other. At one end of the town is a large nature preserve with trails that overlook a seal rookery.

The small downtown area is populated primarily by small local businesses including some newer trendy shops and cafes. Many young families have recently been attracted to the casual lifestyle, reasonably priced housing and good schools, and the town has been expanding toward the mountains.

Carpinteria is unique in its widely diverse range of housing choices. At the low end are several considerably attractive condominium complexes. One particularly desirable complex is located overlooking the expansive green of polo fields where Sunday afternoon matches attract world class polo players and their fans. At the mid-level, there are the more traditional neighborhoods with lovely ranch style homes while the upper end boasts larger acreage ranches in the foothills with expansive views and space for equestrian facilities and orchards.

Several outlying beach communities attract the more affluent. Sandyland is a small, gated waterfront community at the end of Santa Claus Lane and public beach, a popular beach for families and beginning surfers. Santa Claus Lane was named for a large sculpture of that Christmas icon that once graced the roof of a local business. His removal coincided with a recent upgrade of the Lane’s boutiques and coffee shops from funky kitsch to beach chic.

Just adjacent is Sandyland Cove, another upscale, gated community that was originally established by several families from Pasadena and still is home to their second and third generations. A third community, Padaro Lane, typically has slightly larger homes strung along a mile and a half of pristine beach edged by lush foliage. The waters off of all three communities are frequently graced by frolicking pods of dolphins and the occasional seal poking its head out of the gentle waves.

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