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Introducing Salinas

Salinas is the birthplace of John Steinbeck and a major agricultural center whose top crop is the crunchy iceberg lettuce. From May to September, more than six million heads are harvested each day, a feat that’s garnered the area the nickname ‘the world’s salad bowl.’ Salinas makes a strong contrast with the conspicuous affluence of Monterey, a mere 17 miles to the west, a fact of life that helped shape Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Its historic center stretches out along Main St, whose northern end is punctuated by the town’s main attraction, the National Steinbeck Center. The addition of a 12-screen multiplex is a sign of a new, thriving downtown.

Pick up information and maps at the Salinas Visitors Center (831-424-7611; www.salinaschamber.com; 119 E Alisal St; 8:30am-5pm Mon-Fri), four blocks east of Main St.

Seasonal highlights include the huge California Rodeo Salinas (831-775-3100; www.carodeo.com), starting the third Thursday in July and the CaliforniaInternational Airshow (888-845-7469; www.salinasairshow.com) in September or October.