Mix literature, lunching and long walks with a weekend in Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck’s childhood town, otherwise known as “the Salad Bowl of the World.” With much more to see than just vegetation, Salinas has a vibrant music scene, rich literary heritage, and one of the state’s most unusual bed and breakfasts.
Salinas is less than two hours' drive from San Francisco. If speed to Salinas is the goal, get on US 101 S and open up the throttle. It's your line all the way to Salinas, your inland destination within super-easy reach of all the seaside miles of Monterey Bay have to offer.
If you're up for the slow ride that will carry you along the waves and shoreline, take I-280 to Daly City and coast CA-1 all the way down to Castroville, where you'll bend inland on CA-183 the last few miles of the drive.
Stop in Santa Cruz for some surf and tacos or cruise on around the bay. Taking the coastal route will add 30 minutes, but the views and experience are more than worth it.
Residence Inn by Marriott Salinas is your Salinas home away from home, with its suites that include full kitchens and all the amenities you could want. There are on-site tennis and volleyball courts, an indoor swimming pool and fitness facility. And the hotel is only three miles from The Steinbeck House, the famous author's historical house museum, among so much else.
The Laurel Inn is a top-rated motel in Salinas. It offers continental breakfast and has a year-round outdoor pool and hot tub. There also is an on-site restaurant. It's a great budget spot for jumping off with day trips to the beaches of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz, and running down the coast on US-1.
Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas puts you in the heart of history with Oldtown Salinas and the Steinbeck Museum nearby, and Monterey's famous Cannery Row and Monterey Bay Aquarium only 15 miles away. The hotel also provides a fitness center and indoor pool, a free hot breakfast, and free WiFi in each room.
Start your day at First Awakenings, a breakfast joint that prides itself on offering fresh, quality meals, and the best and friendliest service around. The family-run restaurant also serves lunch. Either way, you can't go wrong with what locals often call out as the "best in town."
Gino's Family Restaurant offers mouth-watering Italian food, with spicy tomato garlic meatballs you won't find better anywhere else. Enjoy tasty traditional Italian food, with a child-friendly menu to boot.
Rancho Cielo serves a unique opportunity, where the food is prepared and served the students of its nationally recognized culinary program, and the quality of food, service and overall experience earn rave reviews. The menu includes all tastes, and the desserts are to swoon over.
Oldtown Salinas has that charming Main Street where you can feel the quaint, history-filled vibe of what once was. Stroll the town, take in the sights, people watch and enjoy dinner when the mood strikes.
The Monterey Zoo in Salinas is home to big cats, small cats, bears and birds. Reptiles and amphibians, primates and elephants, the list rolls on. There are daily tours, private tours, tour packages, and educational events and programs. And tours are free for the brave who stay the night at the associated Vision Quest Ranch B&B.
This world-famous raceway is worth the visit, whether for a scheduled event or just to take in this slice of racing history. If you're a cyclist, there are monthly twilight rides for all ages to experience pedaling Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 11-turn, 2.238-mile course.
Toro County Park offers 4,756 acres that many types of wildlife including deer, coyote, and a rare mountain lion and golden eagle call home. The park facilities include an equestrian staging area and riding trails, two softball fields, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, mountain biking, volleyball courts, and over 20 miles of hiking trials.
The Steinbeck House is one of the premier literary stops in the world. It's a gorgeous historic house that has been immaculately restored to the glory it enjoyed when author John Steinbeck lived here. There also is a cafe for catching a light lunch. A fantastic bookshop on site, as you might guess, features all Steinbeck's works, as well as curios, photos and other souvenirs.