The National Steinbeck Center opened in 1998, and I’d heard good things about it, but had not been. Although I pass by Salinas, where the Center is located, on a semi-regular basis, I’m always on my way somewhere else and don’t make the time to stop. So, for this year I chose Salinas as the destination for Sisters’ Weekend.
The Center is at the end of Main Street in downtown Oldtown. We had a bit of time before the Center opened, and I had found a walking map of Steinbeck related sites on the Center’s website. Since it wasn’t far, I figured we ought to at least go by the Steinbeck House. I’d found out too late that it wasn’t open we on Sundays, but we could at least see the outside. Which we did, and then a volunteer who was there doing some yard work was kind enough to let us in to see the inside! That was a real treat, they’ve done an excellent job restoring and preserving the home.
The Center is also very well done. The exhibits give information on Salinas and the Salinas Valley, on Steinbeck’s life, and all of his books. Very interesting and nicely presented. I hadn’t known that he had spent time in Europe as a war correspondent during WWII, or that he spent time in Mexico, spoke Spanish, and wrote a film about Zapata. It was cool to see the variety and number of other languages his works have been translated to.
It’s not huge – in a couple of hours it seemed like I’d seen pretty much all there was to see, and it felt complete but not overwhelming. So it might not be worth a trip to Salinas just for that, but if you were passing by or making a weekend with other activities in the area I would definitely recommend checking it out.