The Spanish named the area Carpinteria because the Chumash tribe, which lived in the area, had a large seagoing canoe-building enterprise, or "carpentry shop" there; this was due to the availability of naturally-occurring surface tar which was used to seal the boats. You can still see the tar oozing out of the bluffs at Tar Pits Park, on the beach just south of the campground.
Carpinteria Beach is known to have a gentle, sloping terrain and calm waves. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopuses and sea urchins. A popular campground is located adjacent to the beach. There is good bird watching at Salt Marsh Nature Park.
The city has a small weekly newspaper called The Coastal View.
The city of Carpinteria is served by the Carpinteria Unified School District, which also includes the community of Summerland, and all outlying areas. It includes one high school, one middle (junior high) school, and five elementary schools, as well as two alternative schools (one K-8, one 9-12). Cate School is another school in Carpinteria, a private preparatory school and one of the most sought-after high schools in the nation.
Pacifica Graduate Institute, home of the Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Library, is located in Carpinteria. This graduate school hosts master's and PhD programs in depth psychology and mythology.
Carpinteria High School's football team, the Warriors, defeated Moorpark High School in 51 consecutive games which is a national high school record.
Since 1987, the California Avocado Festival has been held in Carpinteria on the first weekend of October.
Carpinteria is located at 34°23′57″N, 119°30′59″W (34.399044, -119.516442).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.3 square miles (18.8 km²), of which, 2.7 square miles (7.0 km²) of it is land and 4.6 square miles (11.8 km²) of it (62.86%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,194 persons, 4,989 households, and 3,332 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,250.8 people per square mile (2,029.8/km²). There were 5,464 housing units at an average density of 2,021.3/sq mi (781.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 73.40% White, 0.59% African American, 0.99% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 18.09% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 43.50% of the population.
There were 4,989 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families.
25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.38.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,729, and the median income for a family was $54,849. Males had a median income of $35,679 versus $30,736 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,563. About 7.1% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.
Carpinteria hosts an annual Avocado Festival, with a history extending back to 1902.Over 80,000 persons attend the three-day festival which takes place during the first weekend of October. The festival offers avocado products and locally made goods.