Set in a forest of oaks and pines overlooking a white sand beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of California’s most popular tourist destinations. Art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and proximity to Pebble Beach golf resorts attract an upscale clientele to the one square mile village of quaint cottages, leafy lanes and multimillion dollar second homes.
As Steinbeck noted in Travels with Charley, the bohemian painters and writers who established the village as an art colony after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake would not be welcome today.
Stretching more than 25 miles inland from the ocean, Steinbeck’s Carmel Valley was a bountiful agricultural region of small truck farms and hillside ranches. The bucolic Carmel River bank setting for Mack and the Boys famous frog hunt in Cannery Row is today lined with resorts, golf courses, and luxury homes.
In the mid-1930s, Steinbeck drove over the hill from Pacific Grove to visit muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens. Later he met his third wife Elaine Scott at Carmel’s oldest hostelry, the Pine Inn. One of California’s most historic religious buildings, Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo is featured in The Pastures of Heaven.