There are 5 natural tar deposits on the planet and three happen to be in southern/ southernish California. I stopped in on the one on Carpinteria’s State Beach on the way through Santa Barbara County a few weeks ago and discovered a small wonder none of my Southern California-native family knew existed despite being very easy to reach. The section of beach loaded with deposits of tar hills created over centuries of slow seep is located just south of the campground parking lot.
You can also park on a side street next to residential housing and cross over the train tracks to a stairway to the beach-this is how Apple Maps will take you if you type in Carpinteria tar beach and it was a pleasant opportunity to see how gorgeous this little community is on the way to the main event. Most of the tar here is well aged and neither hot, nor dangerous, but you will get tar on your feet or shoes if you explore the weeping wall of tar found it you go to the dead end of the beach as far south as you can get without having to cross into water. There are also rocks you can wade out to that are covered in barnacles and mini tide pools that are fun to explore. Overall it’s a great little spot for adults and kids (who won’t mess with the wildlife).