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Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

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Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Hi all

My partner and I are doing a short tour starting in San Diego and going up to San Fran and my partner being an English teacher really wants to stop by Salinas for the Steinbeck Festival (pure coincidence it's on).

Has anyone been to the festival before, was it any good and is it worth actually staying in Salinas or driving in? We're basically only passing through and staying for one night so we want to make the most of the time we have there.

If we do stay outside of the area, is it easy to find parking?

Any help would be fab.

Gem

10 replies to this topic
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1. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

I'm sure thousands of people (or more) have stayed in Salinas for some reason, but it's not a common place for a stop by tourists. It's a city of about 150,000 people, so, not too quaint IMO. Whether you should spend the night or not comes down to two things, I suspect:

How long a day you have (i.e., will you have just left San Diego or San Luis Obispo or ?-- your starting point makes a huge difference in whether you would want to keep driving to get to a hotel in a nicer town).

What events you want to see at the festival-- they are all over the place, so, if there's one you want to see in Monterey, then score! Because Monterey is a lot nicer than Salinas. It'll be easier to know once they post the schedule for this year's festival on their website.

I recommend you see the Steinbeck Center in Salinas (there's parking nearby) and then drive to Monterey to stay. That could be nice for a couple reasons, one being that you will see more actual farmland a little bit like it looked in Steinbeck's day. (Though I think the black soil is more striking near Castroville than along 68.)

Then you can take 1 to Santa Cruz, and 17 to San Jose, and on up to SF (I'm gathering you need to move quickly as opposed to scenically- as though that's a word).

Pacific Grove...
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2. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Hi. I looked at the Steinbeck site, and it seems that they have not yet posted the schedule of events for this year's festival. It should be up soon, though. That may affect how long you stay and what you do. As comedor said, Salinas is not a place that people go to vacation, so it's not known for its beauty. It also has a gang problem, BUT that doesn't mean that there are not safe places to stay. It's just not a place where you'll want to be walking around late at night. Were you also planning to visit Monterey on this trip? I would suggest that you time your trip to arrive in Salinas early enough to spend some hours at the festival and then make the 30-minute drive to the coast and spend the night in Monterey. Then, after Monterey, you can drive the rest of way to San Francisco on Hwy 1 along the coast (about a 3-hour drive from Monterey to SF). If you can't arrive in Salinas early enough, then go on to Monterey to spend the night and make the 30-minute drive back to Salinas the following day to spend time at the festival. The Monterey area is so beautiful--it's well worth a visit.

London, United...
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3. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Hi, when my wife and I were out that way last year, we were warned by some locals not to stay there. They told us that there was about 2 shootings a week. This is probably not the norm, but we chose not to take the risk.

We found a place in Monterey that was lovely.

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4. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Thanks all, your advice has been really really helpful.

We were planning on visiting Monterey anyway so I think staying there where at least I have less of a chance of being shot might be a better plan!

Comedor I had never heard of San Luis Obispo until you mentioned it, we were going to stay in Santa Barbara on the way up from San D as a bit of a stop over but I think San Luis Obispo looks much nicer.

Thanks again, any further suggestions would be gratefully received.

Gem

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5. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Butting in here....

You said <<we were going to stay in Santa Barbara on the way up from San D as a bit of a stop over but I think San Luis Obispo looks much nicer.<<

That is a very hard call. Santa Barbara is a lovely city, with one of the most beautiful historical missions and a gorgeous historical courthouse, and the whole downtown is Spanish colonial style with white stucco, red-tile-roof buildings. Also, it is on the ocean, whereas San Luis Obispo is a little inland.

San Luis Obispo is also a lovely city and it also has an historic mission and an historic court house.

If possible, whichever one you decide to stay in, be sure to 'experience' the other.

I do agree on the advice not to stay overnight in Salinas. However, if you go back to Monterey you will be backtracking, and retracing your steps.

If you have had a chance to stop in Monterey on your way to Salinas...from Salinas go to Castroville on Hwy 183 and then take Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz for the night. this is 39 miles. It is a little less than 2 hours from here to San Francisco.

It sounds like a lovely trip.

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6. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Thanks Puter, always welcome more ideas.

Having never been to San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara I do rely on everyone else's comments so we will definitely pop by Santa Barbara on the way up too!

Thanks again

Gem

California
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7. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Gems, to give you a ballpark idea of driving times... (assuming you don't stop at all and travel on the 101).

San Diego to Santa Barbara will be 4-6 hours, depending on traffic.

Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo will be a little under two hours.

San Luis Obispo to Salinas will be about 2 hours.

You can see that you may want to drive SD to SB, then sightsee and stay there (most people would probably go for SB over SLO). Then, next day drive to Salinas (however, this would leave you only the afternoon for the Steinbeck Center- but that may be enough). Continue onto Monterey to spend the night.

Or, you certainly can go SD to SLO to overnight. Then, onto Salinas in the morning which would give you a couple more hours for the Steinbeck Center. I guess it will come down to how much you want to see in SB.

SLO's perfectly nice. SB is just a bigger town with more of everything, and because it's right on the ocean, it's generally considered more aesthetically pleasing.

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8. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Fab, thanks Comedor. Lots and lots of think about. I think I like the idea of staying in Monterey instead of Salinas but it's that stop over between San D & Monterey which I'm pondering now.

Thanks for your help

x

Salinas, California
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9. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Just a heads-up - Salinas has many nice places to stay in and around the downtown area and the downtown is especially wonderful! It is really safe - I've lived here for over 32 years and never had any problems. No worries about staying here for future visitors. Us locals welcome everyone from around the world and we are a very friendly city - come and enjoy our hospitality!

San Jose, California
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10. Re: Steinbeck Festival - Where to stay, what to do

Hey Salas - This post is 5 years old. Are you mining TA to find all of the Salinas posts or what?

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