Discover Salinas Valley is one of the country’s most productive agricultural regions. Its hub, Salinas, is a small city dominated by agriculture. To literature lovers, it’s known as the hometown of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck.
Best Placed Salinas Valley
Discover Salinas Valley is more unassuming than the nearby cities of the Monterey Peninsula and has a significant population of farmers, cowboys, field laborers, and blue-collar workers.The best way to get a feel for Salinas’s small town ambiance is to spend a little time in Old town, where Main Street is lined with local businesses. Steinbeck fans should spend some time at the illuminating National Steinbeck Center and the Steinbeck House, where the author lived during the early part of his life.Outside of Salinas, inland Monterey County offers many worthy attractions and unique experiences that are spread throughout the region’s hotter, drier interior. On the eastern side of Salinas Valley is the country’s newest national park, Pinnacles National Park, which has caves and jagged rock formations perfect for climbers and hikers alike.
The western side of the valley is lined with some of the county’s best vineyards and tasting rooms, especially along the River Road Wine Trail. You can also enjoy solitude at the remote Mission San Antonio de Padua, climb the 5,856-foot Junípero Serra Peak, or reflect in an Eastern-inspired setting at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Just north of the county line, the historic town of San Juan Bautista may look familiar to film fans:
The historic downtown and mission were the setting of many pivotal scenes in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo. Nearby, 3,169-foot Fremont Peak in Fremont Peak State Park offers one of the area’s best views of the Monterey Bay as well as some of the Central Coast’s finest stargazing. Be aware that Salinas and inland Monterey are almost always hotter than the Pacific Ocean-cooled peninsula. Bring lots of water and plenty of sunscreen.
Salinas is Monterey County’s largest city and a popular attraction for fans of writer John Steinbeck. The best place to visit in Salinas is its Oldtown area, where the National Steinbeck Center is located. There are chain hotels in Salinas, but you can find better (albeit more expensive) lodging on the Monterey Peninsula.
Inland Monterey is pretty spread out, so it doesn’t make sense to try and get to everything in a couple of days. Instead, focus on which area sounds the most interesting. The Eastern Los Padres is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts. Fort Hunter Liggett is for those that treasure out-of-the-way places. A superb day can be made by hiking in Pinnacles National Park and then visiting the tasting rooms of the River Road Wine Trail while heading back to Monterey or Salinas. San Juan Bautista is in neighboring San Benito County, and is worth an afternoon of exploration for people interested in early California history. Gilroy makes a fine stopping point on trips between Monterey and the Bay Area.