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National Steinbeck Center
Vacation Travel Guide

Immerse yourself in the life, times and works of legendary American novelist John Steinbeck through memorabilia, photos, journals and film. 

John Steinbeck was a celebrated American novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The National Steinbeck Center celebrates his work through photos, artifacts, interactive exhibits and the author’s personal belongings. It also explores the area’s agricultural history, which was a major influence on Steinbeck’s work.

Separate rooms at the center are dedicated to each of Steinbeck’s major works. See the author’s journals and early notes for the novels East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. The permanent collection here also includes objects that inspired or were featured in the author’s books. You’ll see Rocinante, the camper van in which Steinbeck drove across the country for three months in 1960, a trip which inspired Travels with Charley: In Search of America.

There’s a fine collection of World War II memorabilia from Bombs Away and the canisters from the marine biology lab in Monterey that features in Cannery Row. Watch portions of the many Hollywood movies based on Steinbeck’s books. There are also photos of local migrant camps taken during Steinbeck’s visits, as well as artists’ depictions of characters and settings from certain novels.

Visit the Rabobank Agricultural Museum, part of the center. This interactive museum explores 200 years of California’s agricultural history. Discover the journey a head of lettuce takes, from growing in the fields to ending up on a plate. There are sections dedicated to notable workers and cultural movements, such as labor leader Cesar Chavez and the development of the United Farm Workers Union. The museum also looks at the technology used to keep produce fresh during export and the development of cropping technology, from the horse-drawn plough to worker-operated tractors.

The National Steinbeck Center is located in downtown Salinas, Steinbeck’s former hometown, a half-hour drive from downtown Monterey. Just a short stroll away is the author’s childhood home, Steinbeck House, which includes a restaurant and gift shop. The center is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Top things to do in National Steinbeck Center

Top Hotels Close to National Steinbeck Center

Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
2.5 out of 5
523 Work Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $105 per night from Apr 4 to Apr 5

Situated in Salinas, this hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of National Steinbeck Center, First Mayor's House, and Salinas Valley Model Railroad Museum. Aguila Cultural ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (777 reviews)

"Breakfast was good my kids loved it. Friendly staff."…"

Reviewed on Mar 3, 2021

Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
Traveler's Hotel
Traveler's Hotel
2 out of 5
16 1/2 E Gabilin Street, Salinas, CA
Get Rates

Situated in Salinas, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of National Steinbeck Center and Aguila Cultural Center. Steinbeck House and First Mayor's House are ...

1.9/5 (7 reviews)

"Was quite a bit worse than I expected in that location for that money. Seemed old."…"

Reviewed on May 17, 2016

Traveler's Hotel
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
2.5 out of 5
131 John Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $76 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12

Located in the heart of Salinas, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of National Steinbeck Center and Aguila Cultural Center. Steinbeck House and First Mayor's ...

3.6/5Good! (990 reviews)

"Excellent check in process. Excellent service and location. Downtown area"…"

Reviewed on Jan 11, 2021

Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top National Steinbeck Center Flight + Hotel Deals

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Best Lodging Options Near National Steinbeck Center

Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
2.5 out of 5
523 Work Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $105 per night from Apr 4 to Apr 5
Hampton Inn & Suites Salinas
Traveler's Hotel
Traveler's Hotel
2 out of 5
16 1/2 E Gabilin Street, Salinas, CA
Traveler's Hotel
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
2.5 out of 5
131 John Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $76 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Salinas
Super 8 by Wyndham Salinas
Super 8 by Wyndham Salinas
2 out of 5
131 Kern Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $71 per night from Mar 11 to Mar 12
Super 8 by Wyndham Salinas
Laurel Inn Motel
Laurel Inn Motel
2 out of 5
801 West Laurel Dr., Salinas, CA
The price is $76 per night from Mar 7 to Mar 8
Laurel Inn Motel
Steinbeck Lodge
Steinbeck Lodge
2 out of 5
109 John St, Salinas, CA
Steinbeck Lodge
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Salinas
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Salinas
2.5 out of 5
195 Kern St, Salinas, CA
The price is $101 per night from Mar 7 to Mar 8
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Salinas
Best Western Salinas Monterey Hotel
Best Western Salinas Monterey Hotel
2.5 out of 5
175 Kern St, Salinas, CA
The price is $79 per night from Mar 19 to Mar 20
Best Western Salinas Monterey Hotel
Best Western Plus Salinas Valley Inn & Suites
Best Western Plus Salinas Valley Inn & Suites
2.5 out of 5
187 Kern Street, Salinas, CA
The price is $87 per night from Mar 19 to Mar 20
Best Western Plus Salinas Valley Inn & Suites
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.