One of the most beautiful and agriculturally productive valleys California has to offer, Salinas Valley has become a great destination for a weekend break from the city. For a real outdoors experience, you can rock climb, explore national parks and hike to your heart's content.
For those looking for more of a relaxing getaway, there are wine tastings, arts, and the Old Town to stroll.
Salinas is less than two hours' drive from San Francisco. If getting to Salinas quickly is the goal, hop onto US 101 S and put the pedal down. It's your line all the way to Salinas, your slightly inland destination within oh-so-easy reach of all Monterey Bay has to offer.
If you're looking for a breathtaking slow roll along the way, CA-1 will carry you along the shoreline, down to Castroville, where you'll angle more 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. The coastal route adds a half hour to your drive, but the views are well worth it.
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.
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.
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."
Patria is a one of the great Salinas restaurants, with incredible Italian, French and German food. The chef and menu get top reviews, as does the excellent staff. The ambience also is consistently rated among the best in Salinas.
Salinas City BBQ is a hopping spot, a local favorite if BBQ is your soft spot. The authentic heat and flavors, and the BBQ skill is what it's about. Very casual joint to grab the best ribs, pulled pork, tri tips, brisket -- you name it -- in town.
Tour the area vineyards to blend pastoral scenery with a taste from the vines. Make a day of it and start with Passagno Winery, Odonata Wines South, Marilyn Remark Winery, Scheid Vineyards, and Talbott Vineyards. If you want to expand your wings, even more vineyards await throughout the Monterey Bay region.
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.
Located in the heart of historic Oldtown Salinas, the National Steinbeck Center serves as a great point of entry into the rest of beautiful Steinbeck Country. Tour the center, and then pickup a walking map through Old Town.
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.
Tour the galleries for an easy-going day on the town, or even dive in and get your hands dirty with art classes for artists of all ages at the Main Street Art Studio & Gallery or the Bowl Gallery & Creative Studio. If collecting contemporary art is your passion, stretch a little further and explore Monterey Bay and the surrounding region.