The pride of Salinas, John Steinbeck, brought stories of his hometown and early 20th-century agricultural California into world consciousness. A visit to modern-day Salinas – Spanish for “Saltworks” – has much to recommend it. Wild dunes and beaches, marshlands with a host of local critters and, yes, the National Steinbeck Center. If you want to stay for a few days, there are a wide range of excellent places to lay your head. Here are the ones we’re especially fond of – bookable on Culture Trip.
Tucked into the dunes of Monterey Bay, this luxury hotel in Marina offers unique opportunities to experience the natural surroundings. Start your day with beach yoga and a complimentary lavender-infused face mask – before joining one of the guided group nature walks, or hire a guide for a private hiking excursion. Come evening, you’ve earned the oysters and cioppino dinner that you’ll tuck into at the on-site Saltwood Kitchen and Oysterette. Cap off the day snuggled up at one of the nightly bonfires on the private beach and fall asleep to the sound of the Pacific Ocean outside your patio door.
This pretty Salinas bed and breakfast features updated guest room furnishings mixed with classic Victorian decor. Enjoy a glass of Madeira poured from a crystal decanter while lounging on a red velvet settee in the bar room. Challenge your partner to a game of billiards in the games room – complete with framed jersey of San Francisco 49ers football legend, Jerry Rice. Or, take in the fresh air while strolling around the property’s lush lawn. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to try the bacon at breakfast here – it’s outstanding.
A great budget option for your stay in Salinas, this hotel features a palm-lined outdoor pool and a fitness center with weights, stationary bike and treadmill. If you’re working out, why not take advantage of the complimentary grab-n-go breakfast. Or, treat yourself and make your own Belgian waffles. If your tummy is grumbling later in the day, try the nearby Culturas Hidalgo y Oaxaca Restaurant. Oaxacan Mexican food is a rarity around these parts, so dig in and try the huaraches and tlayuda.
With the hub for all things Steinbeck just five minutes away, you can spend hours perusing the Pulitzer Prize-winning works of this Salinas native. When your brain needs a break but your body needs some endorphins, head back to the hotel and hit the fitness room. The elliptical machines and treadmills will help you get your blood pumping. Maybe you’ll have so much energy afterwards that you’ll be inspired to write the next great American novel – from the oversized desk in your room, of course.
A rooftop deck with Monterey Bay views? Check. Outdoor firepits? Check. Suites with stylish modern decor, oceanside views and enough room – two queen beds and a sofa bed – for the whole family? Check. An affordable and awesome beach vacation is possible with a stay at this Marina hotel. Fort Ord Dunes State Park is just down the street, so spend the day strolling around the stunning and wild California coastline – before warming up by the hotel’s firepits with a glass of Californian red. Bliss.
Each of the 10 rooms at this cozy inn is decked out with a unique look and nautical name – and you’ll find feather pillows on every bed. “The Admiral’s Wife” is a sweetly old-fashioned space with a lace bedspread on the antique wooden bed, a curvy beveled glass mirror above the fireplace and a clawfoot tub in the bathroom. Alternatively, in “The High Seas”, you’ll sleep atop an antique wooden boat – with the wheelhouse attached to the wall above. The two-person soaking tub, fireplace in the bathroom and panoramic view of nearby wetlands surely bring the romance, making this inn a funky and charming must-see in Moss Landing.
Moss Landing State Beach is just two minutes away from this boutique hotel. Rooms are straightforward – each has a minimalist bed, chair, desk, Keurig coffee maker, bathroom with Beekman toiletries – and are very clean. There’s also boat parking for those coming to Monterey by sail. For food, just stroll 2 minutes down the road to the Moss Landing Cafe. A cute little mom-and-pop restaurant, this place features reasonably-priced American classics like blue cheese burgers and lots of local seafood options. The open-faced crab sandwich with steamed artichoke tastes just like SoCal on your plate.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.