John Stenbeck's Cannery Row - Museum, Walking Tour + More!

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City by the Sea: Walk in the Steps of John Steinbeck on Cannery Row

Post Ranch Inn cliff side Monterey California

Kodiak Greenwood

Step back in time on the John Steinbeck Cannery Row walking tour.

With more luxury travelers seeking vacations closer to home, 2020 is the year to rediscover Monterey, California. The city is celebrating both its 250th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the publication of hometown literary giant John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”

Start your journey at The National Steinbeck Center, which is dedicated to preserving the author’s creative legacy.

The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas California

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

Much of Monterey has changed from the time Steinbeck used the area as the backdrop for many of his most famous literary works, including the fabled “Cannery Row.” But for travelers wanting to walk in the steps of the Nobel Prize winner and get a feel for the Monterey of the early 20th Century, it’s still possible.

“Not everyone has the good fortune to be born in Salinas,” Steinbeck once wrote of his birthplace, but everyone can explore the many Steinbeck centered attractions in the town.

Start your journey at The National Steinbeck Center, which is dedicated to preserving the author’s creative legacy. Located in the heart of historic Oldtown Salinas the center offers a multi-sensory tour complete with movie clips based on films from his books, and the green camper Steinbeck drove through 34 states in to get inspirations for “Travels with Charley.”

John Steinbeck home in Salinas California

See Monterey

John Steinbeck’s birthplace on Cannery Row and childhood home, The Steinbeck House, is now a restaurant and the perfect spot for lunch. Steinbeck wrote several short stories and novels in the Queen Anne Victorian home in Oldtown Salinas.

Head into Monterey proper in the afternoon stopping at the Monterey International Institute because the building it is housed in was the home John Steinbeck lived in when he penned “Cannery Row.”

John Steinbeck's Cannery Row in Monterey

Kerrick James

Cannery Row itself was renamed for the novel in 1958. The canneries, fisherman and smoke stacks the wharf had in Steinbeck’s day are long gone. Today Steinbeck’s Cannery Row is a center for dining, shopping and nightlife.

To really get a feel for the look and pace of Monterey County in Steinbeck’s time there is no better place to head than Big Sur. This 90-mile coastal stretch is rustic, natural is seemingly a land where time has stood still. Add in an eclectic mix of locals who no doubt could have inspired Steinbeck and it’s a must on any Steinbeck itinerary.


Perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean the views, especially from one of the infinity hot tubs, are jaw dropping.

dining patio overlooking the sea at Post Ranch Inn Monterey

Kerrick Greenwood

Steinbeck himself knew the area well, working at the ultra luxurious Post Ranch Inn, when it was still a working ranch. The 18-year-old Steinbeck worked as a farm hand for a summer. Interestingly, a letter he wrote to Lizzie Post is the earliest piece of his writing that is known.

Today Post Ranch Inn is the perfect place to make your base while exploring the area. Perched 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean the views, especially from one of the infinity hot tubs, are jaw dropping. Watching a sunset here, or viewing the stars will be a magical memory. Choose a tree house room and enjoy the view from nine feet above the forest floor. The four-course tasting menu at Sierra Mar, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, is the perfect cap to a John Steinbeck Cannery Row-inspired day.

Pebble Beach Resort golf course

Pebble Beach Resorts

While Steinbeck focused on the nitty gritty of early 20th Century life in Monterey, life in the 21st Century is decidedly more luxurious.

To experience Monterey’s jet setting side check into the iconic Pebble Beach resort. Stay at The Lodge, or for a more intimate experience select the 24 estate room Casa Palmero.

This fall golfers will be able to golf the famous links with a new Tiger Woods-designed course. Pebble Beach is considered the number-one golf resort in the country. With sweeping views of the rugged coastline and the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop, golfing a round is spectacular. The new course is a complete redesign of the existing Peter Hay short course, and is the perfect intro course for new golfers before they try their hand at the three championship courses the pros play on during the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am tournament. Last year the U.S. Open was held on the property.

Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance in Monterey

Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance

Pebble Beach is also known for another famous event, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of this fabled event that draws car aficionados from all corners of the world. The see and be seen event affords the opportunity to see some of the most pristine classic cars in the world like the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato Berlinetta Speciale that won last year’s Most Elegant Sports Car Award.

Monterey Touring Vehicles to travel on the coast

Monterey Touring Vehicles

If viewing classic cars revs your motor to experience a classic on the open road, Monterey Touring Vehicles is ready to fuel your fantasy with half and full-day classic car rentals. Feel the wind in your hair and make the roar of the Pacific Ocean the soundtrack cruising the famed 17-mile drive in a 1957 Porsche 256 Speedster or enjoy the feeling of nostalgia in a classic 23 window Volkswagen. Stop along the way at any of the 17 points of the drive including The Restless Sea or Cypress Point Lookout.

End the day in nearby Carmel-by-the Sea. This quaint town boasts many interesting art galleries and winery tasting rooms. Combine the two at Scratch and taste the wines of small batch producer Sabine Rodems. Don’t miss the 2014 KW Pinot Noir.

Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel Resort in Monterey

L'Auberge Carmel

Wind your day down at Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, shockingly the only Michelin star eatery on the Central Coast. Helmed by Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Justin Cogley the daily changing eight-course tasting menu highlights the bounty of California with dishes like crab head custard in a shell-based broth and lobster with celeriac and prune.

Pacific Coast beach in Monterey California

See Monterey

Whether you choose to take a trip back in time and see Monterey through the eyes of Steinbeck, or you live in the now and experience the luxurious side of the county, Monterey offers a palette of experiences to create your own close-to-home masterpiece.

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