Portrait of John Steinbeck inside the lobby of the National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas. The spinach scare is only the latest bad news for Salinas. The biggest city in Monterey County was so broke it nearly shut its libraries two years ago. It s also the least affordable city in the U.S., with the biggest gap between wages and home prices.  (Photo by Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

LA Times via Getty Images

National Steinbeck Center

Top choice in Central Coast

This museum will interest almost anyone, even if you don't know anything about Salinas’ Nobel Prize–winning native son, John Steinbeck (1902–68), a Stanford University dropout. Tough, funny and brash, he portrayed the troubled spirit of rural, working-class Americans in novels like The Grapes of Wrath. Interactive exhibits and short video clips chronicle the writer’s life and works in an engaging way. Gems include Rocinante, the camper in which Steinbeck traveled around the USA while researching Travels with Charley.

Take a moment and listen to Steinbeck’s Nobel acceptance speech – it’s grace and power combined.

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