Located in the Salinas Valley, Spreckels is small, enchanting, well-preserved town. It was home to John Steinbeck and the setting for his book, Tortilla Flat. Just stepping into this town, you get a picture of how it could have been years ago.
Spreckels was originally built for workers at the local sugar plant. This enchanting little destination (pop. <700) south of Salinas will mystify you as soon as you drive through its tree lined entrance, and after a couple of days, you will be completely under the Spreckel spell.
The drive to Spreckels from San Francisco is less than two and a half hours via the US-101 route. From US-101 S, take exit 326A for Airport Boulevard, then turn left onto Hansen St. Soon after, turn right on to Harkings Rd. for 2.3 miles, then continue onto Hatton Avenue. From there, turn right on to Third St. ... and Spreckels surrounds you.
An alternative route, 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 handful of miles of the drive.
Along the way, 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 opportunity to unwind en route to your destination 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.
Mo's River Road Grill is an unexpected gem, one of those road-side places you all too often wonder what's inside as you pass by to the next biggest town. Don't miss this stop while you're touring Spreckels and the Salinas Valley. The food and service standout. The fish tacos are a favorite, but the burgers, pizzas, prime rib sandwiches, salads, beers, wines ... the menu runs deep with what you love about a good grill joint.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.