Things to Do in Salinas, California for a Day or a Weekend

Plan a Salinas Getaway - Quick and Easy

One of John Cerney's Salinas County Murals
••• One of John Cerney's Salinas County Murals. ©2000 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

Salinas has more of a reputation for vegetation than visitation, but it can be a great place for a short getaway, and you'll find one of the state's most unusual and fun bed and breakfasts here. You can plan your Salinas weekend getaway using the resources below.

Why Should You Go? Will You Like Salinas?

If you like seeing things growing and visiting farm stands, you'll have a great time here. Fans of writer John Steinbeck will also enjoy a visit to his hometown.

Animal lovers shouldn't miss Vision Quest Bed and Breakfast.

Best Time to Go to Salinas

Salinas weather is best during spring through fall, but most afternoons are windy.

Six Great Things to Do in Salinas

National Steinbeck Center: Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck grew up in Salinas. The Steinbeck Center offers a journey through his world and includes seven themed theaters showcasing his works "East of Eden," "Cannery Row," "Of Mice and Men," "The Grapes of Wrath" and more. And if you ever read "Travels With Charley," they have Steinbeck's camper from that epic cross-country road trip. Steinbeck is buried at Garden of Memories Cemetery, 768 Abbott Street and you can visit his childhood home (which is also a restaurant) for a tour or a bite to eat.

The Farm: The fertile Salinas Valley is all about agriculture, and this "agricultural education center" offers farm tours, family activities and fresh produce for sale.

Roadside Art: Around Salinas and Monterey County, you're likely to see some lifelike murals and cutouts by artist John Cerney, like the one in the photo above. Favorites include "The Harvey House Train" located behind the Harvey House and next to the train station, an accident scene at a downtown intersection and an old-fashioned baseball game on Highway 101 south of Prunedale.

You can find out more about them on John Cerney's website.

Wild Things, Inc: It started out as a hobby, but the next thing he knew, owner Charlie Samut had a business, providing animals for filming. As his stars got older, he wanted a way to keep them home more while earning their keep. That spurred him to create a safari-style bed and breakfast, where you can see the animals and maybe even make friends with an elephant. Even if you don't stay at the B&B, you can take their daily tours and see their star cast of animals.

Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca: This racetrack is an 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course that is widely hailed as one of the top ten traditional road courses in the world. They host five world-class race weekends each season. It's  about a 20-minute drive south of town. Find out more about their season and get tickets at their website. You don't have to just watch, either. Allen Berg Racing Schools offer Grand Prix racing experience on the famous track.

Annual Events You Should Know About in Salinas

  • California Rodeo Salinas: The California Rodeo in Salinas is one of the country's top 20 rodeos. It draws the most competitive cowboys and cowgirls, who compete for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. 
  • Salinas Air Show: Held in late September/early October, it features lots of aerial acrobatics.

Best Brunch

Tarpy's Roadhouse, an authentic 1917 roadhouse, serves lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. It's at 2999 Monterey-Salinas Highway west of town.

Where to Stay

The most interesting and fun place to stay in Salinas is Vision Quest Bed and Breakfast.

If you'd rather stay somewhere else, you can find quite a few hotels and motels along US Hwy 101. Use our recommendations for to find a good place to stay, cheap and then go to Tripadvisor's reviews and price comparisons for hotels in Salinas.

Getting There

Salinas is 60 miles from San Jose, 106 miles from San Francisco and 174 miles from Sacramento.