The industrious city of Salinas is primarily known for two things: its rich agricultural landscapes and for being the birthplace of one of America’s most widely read 20th-century writers. Taste the locally grown lettuce that gives Salinas its nickname, the “Salad Bowl of the World,” and learn about the life of the Salinas-born author, John Steinbeck, at literary-themed attractions.
To find out more about Steinbeck’s upbringing, head to the National Steinbeck Center on Main Street. Exhibits here focus on Steinbeck’s life and literature, much of which attempts to portray the lives of working-class Americans and the landscapes of rural California. Just a few blocks west sits the Queen Anne-style Steinbeck House, where the writer spent much of his childhood. Take a guided tour of the house in summer and enjoy dinner or drinks at the on-site restaurant. Venture 2 miles (3 kilometers) or so southeast of downtown Salinas to the Garden of Memories Memorial Park to see where Steinbeck is buried.
Wander around the quaint streets of Oldtown Salinas and soak up the charming atmosphere. Lots of restaurants, many of which serve locally grown produce, can be found here, as can boutiques, antique stores, ice-cream shops and a retro-style cinema. Examine the paintings, jewelry and ceramics on show at the Salinas Valley Art Gallery, which displays the works of local artists.
For information or help getting around town, enter the California Welcome Center in Salinas. Ask the staff for advice, and browse brochures and literature on nearby attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium or Pinnacles National Park. The nearby region offers abundant hiking opportunities, and also contains several wineries, such as Pessagno Winery.
Salinas is in Monterey County in northern California. Buses and coaches connect Salinas to other Californian cities. The nearest airport is Monterey Regional Airport. Salinas is just 20 minutes’ drive from the coast and 30 minutes or so from seaside Monterey, where memorable views and marine wildlife await, and the upscale, resort-like Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its gable-roofed, 1920s-era Comstock cottages.