I have to admit I am a huge fan of literary history. Over the last few months, I have enjoyed adding in stops that showcase famous authors and their impact on the state we live in. I first did this by retracing some of Mark Twain’s steps in Angels Camp, California’s Gold Country. I did it again on a recent trip to Monterey where I spent time exploring Cannery Row in search of what Steinbeck wrote about in the novel of the same name. This adventure lead me to Salinas to visit the museum dedicated to his stories and to see his house. Here is all of the information so you can do the latter two yourself.
- Cost: $12 for the museum
- Location: 1 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901
- House is located two blocks of walking from the museum
John Steinbeck was born in 1902 at the home located only a few blocks from the center. The house is still available for tours to this day and is a working restaurant.
The center itself was opened in 1998 to encourage the preservation and education of the works of John Steinbeck. It houses the largest collection of Steinbeck archives in the entire United States and features rotating exhibits that focus on things Steinbeck was passionate about like agriculture.
I was on the last leg of a road trip when I rolled into the center right around 4:30 PM, only 30 minutes before it closed. Due to time constraints, I had to rush through the museum, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well done it is, and I plan to make my way back there at a later date when I have more time.
The museum is mostly one main exhibit area which is broken into sections telling history and stories about each of his famous novels. My favorite of these is East of Eden, and there was a huge section dedicated to it that I spent the most time in. Here are some of the other famous stories that he wrote and an example of what their exhibits looked like. Honestly, if you like his stories you could easily spend a few hours here taking it all in.
Grapes of Wrath
Of Mice and Men
As you are working your way through the museum, you will pass the sections dedicated to his books and learn more about his later life, including information about his Nobel Prize in literature and his life in New York City.
The exhibit ends with the above quote which I thought was fitting for such a good author.
Also, there is a recap of his entire life biography before you exit back into the lobby of the museum.
The museum also had an area with a video playing about his life, but unfortunately I did not have time to watch it, and a store that sold lots of different pieces of memorabilia including his books.
On the way out one of the workers directed me to how to get to his house, so I set out from the center to see it before I left.
John Steinbeck’s House
After exiting the center, you will head right (away from the parking structure) and start walking down that street. After about two blocks of walking, you will see his house on the corner.
The house is beautiful and well kept since it has historical significance and because it is a working restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closed when I went, but I walked around it and looked at the different historical plaques.
All in all, I enjoyed my time in Salinas and look forward to when I can come back and spend more time here. I can honestly say that this is an excellent way to learn more about the famous author and California history while you are at it. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.