10 Things to Do in Salinas That You Shouldn't Miss

April 7, 2018 Christa Meece

Salinas /səˈliːnəs/ is the county seat and largest municipality of Monterey County, California. Salinas is an urban area located just outside the southern portion of the Greater Bay Area and 10 miles (16 km) east-southeast of the mouth of the Salinas River. The population was 157,218 as of 2016. The city is located at the mouth of the Salinas Valley roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean and has a climate more influenced by the ocean than the hot-summer interior. The majority of residents live in single-unit detached homes, built between 1950 and 2000, while one third of the housing stock has three or more units per structure. Salinas serves as the main business, governmental and industrial center of the region. The marine climate is ideal for the floral industry, grape vineyards, and vegetable growers. Salinas is known for its vibrant and large agriculture industry and being "The Salad Bowl of the World" as the hometown of writer and Nobel Prize in Literature laureate John Steinbeck, who based several of his novels there.
Restaurants in Salinas

1. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

1021 Monterey Salinas Hwy, Salinas, CA 93908-8937 +1 831-242-8201
Excellent
72%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 200 reviews

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

The Monterey Peninsula's love affair with world-class racing traces its beginnings to the inaugural running of the Pebble Beach Road Races in 1950. Those sports car events quickly outgrew the public roads of the Del Monte Forest and a beautiful new road facility was born on November 9, 1957.Since then, Monterey has been visited by some of the most prestigious racers in history; Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Kenny Roberts, Bobby Rahal, Wayne Rainey and Valentino Rossi to name a few. The late 60's and 1970's may be remembered as the "Can-Am Years," but it was also the debut of Trans Am, IMSA and AMA motorcycles. CART Indy Car racing and Grand Prix Motorcycling put their stamp on the track in the 80's and 90's. More recently, the huge evolution MotoGP has created a phenomenal global following for the track.Today, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts five world-class race weekends each season, with elite road racing series from around the world visiting the Monterey Peninsula every year.

Reviewed By TREVI36 - Driftwood, Texas

We went to see the track but were more entertained by the literally hundred squirrels running everywhere.

2. National Steinbeck Center

1 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901-3436 +1 831-775-4721
Excellent
63%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 331 reviews

National Steinbeck Center

A celebration and exploration of the well-known author's work through multi-sensory exhibits, priceless artifacts and live theater performances.

Reviewed By Cllark W - Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

Great place to visit if you are a reader of the famous author. The Salinas-Watsonville-Castroville-Monterey farming and fishing areas are well represented with cameos and vignettes in the displays and memorabilia, and the agricultural communities well-honored, including Latino, in the short film. I was not disappointed to see the completely restored original Dodge truck, complete with camper, of "Travels With Charley". Hard to get a good picture with the beams in the way, and kinda dusty, but the real McCoy. There are interesting critiques of some of Steinbeck's works, even life. This gives balance. Cheap parking, tall admission. Worth it. Beware, you might get the urge to collect old Steinbeck print books. All students should watch "The Grapes of Wrath". Easily good for a whole day.

3. The Steinbeck House / Best Cellar Gift Shop

132 Central Ave, Salinas, CA 93901-2651 +1 831-424-2735
Excellent
63%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 77 reviews

The Steinbeck House / Best Cellar Gift Shop

This Queen Anne style Victorian was the birthplace and boyhood home of author John Steinbeck. Built in Salinas in 1897, the Steinbeck family moved into the house in 1900. The Valley Guild was formed by eight enthusiastic women who shared a common interest in gourmet cooking and wanted to showcase Salinas Valley produce. The volunteers of Valley Guild purchased and renovated the house. It was opened to the public as a restaurant on February 27, 1974 -the 72nd anniversary of John Steinbeck's birth. The house is operated by volunteers with a minimum of paid staff, and recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary. The Best Cellar is in the original basement of the Steinbeck House. The Best Cellar is a delightful gift shop featuring unique gift items as well as vintage and new Steinbeck books. Original furniture from the Steinbeck family is on display including the headboard of the bed in which John Steinbeck was born.

Reviewed By mikegrattan - Salinas

The servers here are volunteers, so I always get to see friendly faces and get good service. Unfortunately, the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen is a bit inconsistent. For example, the salads were good but the chicken cordon bleu had a soggy coating instead of being crisp on the outside. Hit or miss.

4. Toro County Park

501 Monterey Salinas Hwy, Salinas, CA 93908-8980 +1 831-755-4899
Excellent
62%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 46 reviews

Toro County Park

Reviewed By heckfy - Pleasanton, California

This park has pretty much everything you can think of. Great location - right off a freeway. It has a nice formal side (seems to be getting crowded sometimes) and a huge "wild" part. Trails, hills, trees, water features - you name it. You have to pay to park inside, but there is also free street parking outside just a few hundred feet away.

5. Monterey Zoo

400 River Rd, Salinas, CA 93908-9627 +1 831-455-1901
Excellent
57%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
6%
Terrible
8%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 114 reviews

Monterey Zoo

Take a Walk on the Wild Side! Visit Monterey Zoo and see a collection of over 100 animals as this zoo is fast becoming a premier Monterey Attraction. Currently under construction but still open daily for all to see the progress and hopefully help support this special effort to improve the quality of life for the animals and the community that enjoys them.

Reviewed By kayakPhil - Fillmore, California

Lots fun and clamping tents with showers. Cools off evening . Wouldn't come in hottest mo year. We were here Jun 16. They have viewing area to see elephants and water buffalo and a zebra. You can pay extra and put elephants to bed and give them carrots and touch their trunks. Your sleeping at cabins and hear lions roar. Feels like Africa.,
Staff have degrees in Zoo and animal care. Great special occasion. The bed time Buster was extra charge and my wife used walker and they opened special gate to let her in barn and paved Zoo area.
Great experience.

6. The Farm

Hwy 68 off the Spreckels Road Exit, Salinas, CA 93902 +1 831-424-1996
Excellent
60%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 29 reviews

The Farm

This working farm is also an agricultural education center, demonstration farm, produce stand and recreation destination. You can pick your own vegetables, see the animals, learn or just shop in the farmstand.

Reviewed By Rebekajean - The Woodlands, Texas

We stopped to see what they had to offer and came away with more than we planned. Sweet cherries, the most aromatic and flavorful strawberries and fresh off the vine snap peas. Half our purchase was eaten before we reached home. Love the atmosphere and presentation. Farm animals for the kids to see and pet. Friendly and helpful staff. Everything looked so fresh, clean and the smell, wow. They even have restrooms. A bit difficult to find if you are not from the area. From our direction we had to pass it by then enter near the underpass. So worth the trip.

7. Tatum's Garden

1 Maryal Dr, Salinas, CA 93906-3757
Excellent
85%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 19 reviews

Tatum's Garden

Reviewed By mini - Fremont, California

We visited Tatum's Garden. This is a great place for children to come and play. Since we visited on a holiday and a blue sky day, many children were coming to play. This is a delightful accessible playground for all. It is well designed.

There is a parking lot right by the garden. The playground is fenced. It is by the Salinas Sports Complex and Rodeo Grounds.

8. Oldtown

Salinas, CA
Excellent
33%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
12%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 54 reviews

Oldtown

Reviewed By Keith N - Salinas, California

We have made a trip every week to Old Town Salinas, to find new restaurants, places of interest, and fun things to do. There are many excellent restaurants including Patria's, Monterey Coast Brewing Company, First Awakenings, and The Golden Fish, which I have dined in, enjoyed, and reviewed. On my list to visit soon are Georgio's, The Pub, Farm Fresh Deli, and Mi Tierra Restaurant. The Maya Cinema offers choices for movies and the Steinbeck Center provides a learning experience. The new Taylor Farms Building offers an impressive landmark and has not quite fully opened. There are a variety of special shops and services. We enjoy a walk around after lunch and I was always seem to discover something new.

9. California Welcome Center Salinas

1213 N Davis Rd, Westridge Shopping Center, Salinas, CA 93907-1996 +1 831-757-8687
Excellent
72%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 7 reviews

California Welcome Center Salinas

The California Welcome Center Salinas provides locals and visitors traveling Highway 101 with comprehensive information on both the Central Coast region of Californa and additional information for areas around the State. Free maps and brochures are available as well as souvenirs. There's a pet area, plenty of parking for vehicles of all sizes and free internet access. Our professional staff and volunteers act as your personal concierge to ensure the best possible California experience.

Reviewed By mini - Fremont, California

We were in Salinas for the day and went to the California Welcome Center in Salinas. This is a very nice visitor center with information not only for Salinas but also, Monterey area, California and Nevada.

They have some coupons.

The staff here is great.

We saw the Visitor Sign on Freeway 101. There are a few signs that are very helpful to help one quickly find the Visitor Center.

The center is in a smaller size shopping center.

Parking is right by the Visitor Center.

10. Salinas Sports Complex

1034 N Main St, Salinas, CA 93906-3815 +1 831-775-3100
Excellent
58%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
14%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 7 reviews

Salinas Sports Complex

Reviewed By mini - Fremont, California

We visited the Salinas Sports Complex; this is an amazing facility. First there is the rodeo grounds and corrals area. The rodeo is held in the summer.

There is a very nice baseball stadium - Rabobank Stadium. There are also softball fields.

The aquatic center is very nice as well.

By the rodeo stadium, there is a building with a Wells Fargo stagecoach from 1868.

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