Salinas CA: Steinbeck Country Revisited

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    Salinas CA: The Other Wine Country

    The intriguing city of Salinas is located on California's central coast, a few miles from Monterey Bay. Exceptional wineries line the Salinas Valley, one of California's premier regions for the production of top quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visitors to the Hahn Estate can explore the vineyards on ATVs and enjoy lunch on a terrace overlooking the vineyards. Several picturesque wineries offer tastings along this fertile stretch of the Salinas River Road Wine Trail. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Hahn Estate Winery

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    Historic Salinas: As Steinbeck Knew It

    Go back in time as you walk through the many blocks of old Main Street in Salinas, birthplace of renowned author and Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. The historic downtown features fine Victorian and Art Deco architecture and is home to the National Steinbeck Center as well as the National Steinbeck Library and the author's family home. One of Salinas' many popular dining spots, First Awakenings, is housed in a 1898 historical building.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona/National Steinbeck Center

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    Tour a Working Organic Farm

    The Farm in Salinas is just organic farm that offers a wide variety of agricultural tours that give participants an up close and personal look at how produce is grown and distributed. Known as the "Salad Bowl of the Nation," the Salinas Valley is purported to be one of the most fertile in the world. In addition to agritourism, The Farm is the exhibition space for the large murals of farm workers produced by celebrated artist John Cerney.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona/The Farm

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    Marine Sanctuary Teems with Whales

    It's no fluke that the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to numerous species of marine life, thanks to its unusually deep waters and constant supply of abundant sardines and other food sources that feed marine mammals. Located just 12 miles from Salinas, the sanctuary is a perfect spot for whale-watching. From frisky dolphins and sea lions, to majestic humpback and killer whales, whale-watching in this area is an unforgettable experience.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Sanctuary Cruises

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    Dine in History: the Steinbeck House

    There is something quite awe-inspiring about sitting down to a gourmet meal in the same rooms where renowned American author John Steinbeck spent his youth. Located blocks from the National Steinbeck Center, this 1897 Queen Anne-style Victorian is operated by the non-profit Valley Guild, formed by eight women whose goal was to preserve the Steinbeck home and heritage while creating farm-to-table meals showcasing Salinas Valley ingredients.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Steinbeck House

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    Hike the Dramatic Trails of Pinnacles National Park

    Just a short ride from Salinas, you can enjoy the grandeur of Pinnacles National Park. It holds the honor of being one of America's newest national parks, designated in 2013. Hike over rock spires, ramparts and crags, all part of the remains of the ancient volcanos that formed this landscape. There are several hiking trails available, one of which takes you through majestic talus caves, formed by falling boulders. Ranger-led programs are available.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Pinnacles National Park

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    All Choked Up in Castroville

    Castroville, located just 14 miles from Salinas, is the center of the artichoke-growing industry in the U.S. The globe artichoke variety was first brought to Castroville in the early 1920’s by Italian immigrant farmers. The chokes harvested today are grown from the same root stock that's been passed down through generations for more than 90 years. An annual artichoke festival, now in its 53rd year, celebrates the delicious thistle prized since ancient times.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Ocean Mist

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    Kayak through Pristine Nature: Elkhorn Slough

    Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest areas of undisturbed wetlands remaining in California. A kayak tour through this pristine coastal marsh will give you a personal view of a wide variety of sea mammals and birds, including the endangered California sea otter. Guided tours conducted by naturalists are recommended to help visitors understand the conservation methods utilized to preserve these wetlands.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Monterey Bay Kayaks

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    Undersea Magic: Monterey Bay Aquarium

    A trip to Salinas wouldn't be complete without a visit to Cannery Row and the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. The facility holds thousands of plants and animals with more than 600 species on display, all fed by fresh ocean water that is pumped continuously through more than 100 exhibit tanks. Special exhibits such as the current "Tentacles" display that explores the lives of octopuses, squid, and cuttlefishes, are also featured as part of admission.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona/Monterey Bay Aquarium

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    Taste Your Way Along River Road Wine Trail

    Afternoon may find you on the exquisite River Road Wine Trail, where you can sip award-winning vintages at picturesque wineries and watch the sun set over the glorious Salinas Valley.  Explore the wineries of Puma Road, De Tierra, Manzoni, Pessagno, Talbott, and Odonata, among others, and raise a glass to the excellent vino produced in the fertile Salinas Valley. 

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona/Puma Road Winery

About Joanne DiBona

You'll never see Joanne without a camera or two strapped around her neck as she travels around the world to unearth new and exciting destinations to share with her readers. Her professional career includes a long tenure in communications for the San Diego Tourism Authority, where she wore many hats. By far her favorite role was as scenic photographer for the region.  When she’s not adding fresh images to her Scenic Photos website, Joanne can be found singing with her Italian band or whipping up fresh pasta in her kitchen. Joanne is a member of the esteemed Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

Read more about Joanne DiBona here.

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