Visit the scenes and settings in the Salinas Valley on the Central Coast of California where Nobel Prize winning writer John Steinbeck was born (1902), raised, and wrote many of his California-based stories. For locations in Carmel, Cannery Row, Monterey including Cannery Row, and Pacific Grove, see Steinbeck Country on the Monterey Peninsula.
Steinbeck’s family home and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas are just 20 miles from Cannery Row. Many other buildings and locations in the Salinas Valley played important roles in the writer’s childhood and are featured in his stories.
Click on the red POI (point of interest) links for more information on each location.
John Steinbeck was born in the Steinbeck House and Restaurant, a Queen Anne-style residence when the population of the town was under 2,000 people. It now exceeds 150,000. A bronze statue stands outside the Salinas Public Library.
In the 1940s, he moved to New York City where he died in 1968. His ashes are interred with family members and characters from his novels in the Garden of Memories Cemetery.
Sugar king Claus Spreckels built his four-block company town of Spreckels in 1898. While working at the sugar factory 5 miles south of Salinas, Ernst Steinbeck helped his son find work as a lab chemist. Here he met characters and heard stories that appeared in Tortilla Flat.
West of Spreckels, Bernancio and Corral de Tierra Roads loop off Highway 68 through the pastoral valley that Steinbeck named Las Pasturas del Cielo. Translated as The Pastures of Heaven, this was the setting for his first California novel.
Castle Rock, featured in The Pastures of Heaven and The Long Valley, overlooks the gated residential development of Markham Ranch. Bluffs eroded into Camelot castle-like towers and turrets stirred the young Steinbeck’s life-long fascination with the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Other Salinas Valley locations, include the banks of the Salinas River near Soledad (Of Mice and Men), and buildings at the Agricultural Museum near King City and the Boronda Adobe History Center, near Salinas (The Red Pony and The Long Valley).
The Red Pony Ranch, on private propriety off San Juan Grade Road north of Salinas, is open for occasional tours organized by the Steinbeck Center.