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Steinbeck Country on the Monterey Peninsula

Photo by David Laws

Exploring Coastal settings for Steinbeck's stories

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Visit the scenes and settings on the Monterey Peninsula of the Central Coast of California where Nobel Prize winning writer John Steinbeck lived and wrote many of his California-based stories. For inland locations in Salinas and the Salinas Valley area, including the National Steinbeck Center, see Steinbeck Country in Salinas.

The Monterey Peninsula and Pacific Ocean is just 20 miles from the Steinbeck family home in Salinas. Many buildings and locations in Carmel, Monterey including Cannery Row, and Pacific Grove 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.


Pacific Grove

The Steinbeck family owned a summer cottage on 11th Street. Here John and his sisters spent many hours exploring the rocky coves and beaches west of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station.

John and his wife Carol spent the early years of their marriage in the cottage where he wrote his early stories, including The Pastures of Heaven, The Long Valley, Tortilla Flat, and The Red Pony.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, Ed Ricketts’s Great Tidepool, Holman’s Department Store and other locations in town feature prominently in Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.


Monterey

Monterey’s downtown State Historic Park preserves a rich heritage of adobe buildings dating from its years as the capital of Spanish California.

Steinbeck paints his most colorful pictures of Monterey in Tortilla Flat. Danny and his paisanos lived on the outskirts of town where their revels and brushes with the law appealed to readers looking for escape from the realities of the Depression.

He lived in the Lara Soto Adobe on Pierce Street for a short time before moving to the East Coast in 1945.


Cannery Row

Sardines canneries dominated the ocean front west of Monterey until the early 1950s when over-fishing depleted the catch. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, hotels, restaurants, and souvenir stores fill former cannery buildings.

Steinbeck’s association with the industry stemmed from his friendship with marine biologist Ed Ricketts, owner of Pacific Biological Laboratories on Cannery Row. Occasionally open to the public, the lab served as a meeting place for writers, artists, and intellectuals and the setting for legendary parties.


Carmel-by-the-Sea & Carmel Valley

Steinbeck often drove over the hill from Pacific Grove to Carmel-by-the-Sea to visit journalist Lincoln Steffens who introduced him to farm labor activists who inspired In Dubious Battle.

He met his third wife Elaine Scott at Carmel’s oldest hostelry the Pine Inn.

Invaded by Mac and the Boys to hunt for frogs in Cannery Row, the banks of the Carmel River are now lined with golf resorts, wineries, and luxury homes.


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