Linden Street on the ocean side of Hwy 101 is known for its charming local boutiques, vintage-antique shops (see my post on Vintage Treasure Hunt II), candy and chocolate shop and lots of locally owned restaurants. Dining ranges from super casual to fine dining and include The Spot (fabulous hamburger stand at the bottom of Linden near the beach), the Hot Dog Man, on the Casitas Pass off-ramp), Clementine's in the purple house on Carpinteria Street; a family owned restaurant which serves fabulous "family style" dinners including home made bread and pies. Santa Claus Lane located just south of the City offers several fun dining experiences, including the wonderful Garden Market. There's not a bad meal to be had in the Carpinteria Valley. Across the street from Clementines is the not to be missed Eye of the Day Nursery and Garden Boutique.
Via Real which runs parallel to and north of Hwy 101 (from Santa Monica to Nidever at the Polo Grounds) features numerous nurseries open to the public for purchasing locally grown orchids and/or native and exotic garden and house plants. One of my favorites is the Island View Nursery, located on Nidever. Several nurseries also offer landscape design areas for enjoyment and ideas to take home. Several times of year the Commercial Green House Growers offer a tours to the public. Check with the Chamber of Commerce for details.