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"Steinbeck Country" is a gorgeous stretch of central California's coastal valleys, headlands and shoreline that attests to author John Steinbeck's own fertile mind and enduring literary legacy. It's only appropriate that one of the region's most popular attractions is a tribute to him: the National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas, the author's hometown.

For More Information

The National Steinbeck Center
One Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901
Tel: (831) 796.3833
Fax: (831) 796.3828
Email: info@steinbeck.org
www.steinbeck.org
Hours of Operation
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
7 days a week
Visit website for Admission fees

The National Steinbeck Center is an $15 million, 37,000-square-foot museum and archive a few blocks away from the eponymous author's birthplace and childhood home. The Center, opened in 1989, presents the life of John Steinbeck, his writings, his characters and Steinbeck Country itself in an informative and entertaining manner through interactive exhibits, priceless artifacts, educational programs and film.

Courtesy National Steinbeck Center, c Bob Blackwell


Not high tech, but high touch, the museum is an enjoyable place to introduce children to the joys of reading. Themed sections and theaters showcase Cannery Row, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice yand Men, The Red Pony Travels With Charley, and other Steinbeck works, and involves the visitor in the times, places and people of which he wrote. Steinbeck, a Nobel Laureate in 1962, was recognized for his memorable observations of the human condition. Drawing inspiration from the land and the people who worked it, the author championed the disenfranchised, and their stories also can be found among the exhibits.

Visitor admires this mural on Highway 68 on Salinas by John Cerney and Dong Sun Kim


An anticipated new chapter began in 2003 at the National Steinbeck Center with the grand opening of the museum's "Valley of the World" wing. The new addition celebrates the rich agricultural heritage of the Salinas Valley area, described as "The Valley of the World" by John Steinbeck in his novel East of Eden. The $4.6 million, 8,000-square-foot wing focuses on the human element as well as the evolving technology of farming.


The multi-media experienc features audio clips, photographs and film footage of farm workers, personal memorabilia including unique tools, clothes and artifacts used throughout the decades, interactive computer modules illustrating the science of agriculture and personal histories of families that have worked in the industry. Among the other hands-on experiences for visitors is a station at which you can design your own version of a vintage crate label, a special art form whose galleries were the wooden boxes in which local growers packed and shipped their produce.

The National Steinbeck CenterVisitors to the National Steinbeck Center will want to save time for browsing the excellent Museum Store and taking a lunch break at One Main Street, the Center's exceptional café whose menu includes produce grown in some of the very fields of which Steinbeck wrote. Another dining option within walking distance is the Steinbeck House, the author's childhood Victorian home that has been lovingly preserved as a luncheon restaurant that's rich with period atmosphere. The National Steinbeck Center's handsome, helpful website can help you plan your visit; see the Info Box for the Center's hours and contact details.

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