Salinas (population 150,000) is in California, 20 minutes inland from Monterey Bay in a region known as the Central Coast. Salinas was the home of writer and Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. It claims to be the "Salad Bowl of the World."
Salinas also has a Greyhound bus station, which travelers can come to via many major California cities.
Use CalTrain to get to Salinas from San Francisco or San Jose. Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) buses connect to CalTrain at San Jose, Morgan Hill and Gilroy. (Morgan Hill and Gilroy stations are only open weekdays.) These buses will deposit you in Monterey; from there you can connect to another MST bus to Salinas.
Oldtown Salinas is very walkable. It has many stores, restaurants and galleries. It is also the location of the Transit Plaza, providing access to the Amtrak train and the bus system.
Getting around by automobile is easy. Parking is plentiful and often free.
National Steinbeck Center, 1 Main St, . Every day 10AM-5PM. Has exhibitions about John Steinbeck, his work, and life on the California Coast. $10.95.
Harvey Baker House, . Thought to be the oldest standing structure within the Salinas City limits, is available for tours.
Monterey and Salinas Valley RR, . Railroad museum feturing a model of the Salinas Valley circa 1950. Steam Engine, Cabose, Refigerator Ice Car, and bagagge care availble for tours. See website www.msvrr.org for schedule next door to AMATRAK station and the Harvey Baker house.
First Fridays Art Walk, Oldtown Salinas (start at Main and Gabilan, look for balloons), . 5-8pm. On the first Friday of every month, stores and galleries in Oldtown Salinas throw open their doors. Over 50 venues are usually involved, and there are also many outdoor performances. See live music, dance, and other performances and consume light food and beverages while checking out the art. Look for the balloons on the sidewalk, denoting which venues are open.
Oldtown Salinas Farmer's Market, 100 Main Street (parking lot across from Steinbeck Center). Saturday 9am-2pm. Organic and conventional produce vendors set up shop alongside sellers of clothes, jewelry, soap and other items every Saturday morning. Busier in summer than winter.
Salinas Sunday Farmers Market, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead Road, . Sunday, 8am-noon. Another popular Salinas farmers market, held year round.
Wild Things, Vision Quest Ranch, . Home to a number of animal "movie stars" and over 100 other wild and exotic animals.
Sherwood Hall, adjacent to Salinas Sports Complex, hosts plays and live musical performances including the Monterey County Symphony.
The Western Stage, 411 Central Avenue (parking lot is on Alisal, across from San Vicente Ave.), ☎ (831) 375-2111, . Monterey County's largest professional theatre organization.
California Rodeo, Salinas Sports Complex, North Main St, adjacent to Sherwood Hall, . Held in the third week of July in the heart of Salinas. Locals will correct you if you refer to the ROW-dee-oh; the preferred local pronunciation is row-DAY-oh.
Twin Creeks golf course. Offers players world class golf and pristine scenery. Twin Creeks is a 9-hole course, consisting of four par four holes and five par threes. It offers a 31-par challenge with a 30-station night lighted driving range, practice green, and practice sand bunker.
Salinas Fairways. Another golfing option in the city limits.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 1021 Monterey Salinas Hwy, ☎ (831) 242-8201, . The local racetrack. Laguna Seca is a world-famous, 2.24 mile road course hosting many major racing events.
The Salinas Auto Mall, Northridge, Westridge, Harden Ranch Plaza, Santa Rita Plaza and Sherwood shopping centers cater to shoppers with a variety of needs. Oldtown Salinas draws antique lovers and a specialty gift clientele.
Northridge Mall, 796 Northridge Mall, . The largest mall in Monterey County, housing everything from Gap to Macy's to Express. If you are looking for your typical mall experience, a food court (Panda Express, Cold Stone Creamery, Sarabol, McDonalds, etc), or need a new pair of jeans, this is the place.
The Steinbeck House, 132 Central Ave (two blocks west of the National Steinbeck Center), . Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2PM. A luncheon restaurant in John Steinbeck's boyhood home.
In-N-Out Burger, near Highway 101.
Tico's Tacos, South Main Street.
Monterey Coast Brewing Company, 165 Main Street, 93901 (Near the corner of Main and Gabilan), ☎ 831-758-2337. Monterey Coast Brewing Company brews excellent beer. They serve good pizzas and solid pub food. Make sure to have either the grilled or deep-fried artichokes; both are excellent.
Big Sur is a sparsely settled coastal region known for its breathtaking scenery, and is popular for hiking and camping. It is about 45 minutes southwest of Salinas.
Monterey is popular for its historic district, its water recreation activities, its world-renowned aquarium, and Cannery Row, the setting for John Steinbeck's novel of the same name. It is easily accessible by bus or car from Salinas, and is about 20 minutes west of Salinas.
Santa Cruz is a college town known for its hippie-crunchy vibe. It is an hour northwest of Salinas by car.