I have to admit; I am a huge fan of exploring literary history. Over the last few months, I have enjoyed creating posts that showcase famous authors’ impact on the state. I first did this by retracing some of Mark Twain’s steps in Angels Camp, part of California’s Gold Country. Then I did it again on a recent trip to Monterey, where I spent time exploring Cannery Row, searching for what Steinbeck wrote about in the novel of the same name. This adventure led me to Salinas to visit the museum dedicated to his stories and to see his house. Here is all of the information if you want to visit yourself.
- Cost: $15 for the museum
- Location: 1 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901
- The house is located two blocks from the museum
- Information from my visit in 2016 and 2021
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 was opened in 1998 to encourage the preservation and education of the works of John Steinbeck. It houses the most extensive 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 arrived at 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 was, 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 that 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 their exhibits. 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 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 before you exit back into the lobby of the museum.
The museum also had an exhibit with a video playing about his life, but unfortunately, I did not have time to watch it. Lastly, there is 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.
I enjoyed my time in Salinas and look forward to coming back and spending 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.