The National Steinbeck Center isn't in town, but fans of the author may want to make the 20-mile drive northeast from Monterey on Hwy. 68 to 1 Main St. in Salinas (tel. 831/775-4721; www.steinbeck.org). The modern $11-million, 37,000-square-foot museum features interactive exhibits, a gallery of changing exhibitions, an orientation theater with a short video on Steinbeck's life, educational programs, a gift shop, and a cafe. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $8.95 for seniors over 62, $7.95 for children ages 13 to 17, $6 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. Hours are daily from 10am to 5pm.
If you're passing through Monterey on a Tuesday afternoon, check out the Old Monterey Marketplace on Alvarado Street, from Pearl to Del Monte streets (tel. 831/655-8070; www.oldmonterey.org), from 4 to 8pm (7pm in winter), rain or shine. More than 100 vendors contribute food, music, crafts, and entertainment.
Following the Path of History
The dozen historic buildings around Fisherman's Wharf and the adjacent town constitute the "Path of History" tour, which examines the 19th-century way of life and its architecture. Many buildings are part of the Monterey State Historic Park, 20 Custom House Plaza (tel. 831/649-7118). Highlights include the Custom House, the state's oldest government building (built ca. 1827). You can take a self-guided route by picking up a free tour booklet at the Monterey Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau , the Cooper Molera Adobe (at the corner of Polk St. and Munras Ave.), and various other locations. It will contain a number for a free cellphone tour.
Monterey Wine Country
The congestion and price of Napa and Sonoma vineyards and the increasing popularity of winemaking have forced newcomers to plant their grapes elsewhere. Fortunately, much of the California coast offers ideal growing conditions. Any area between Monterey and Santa Barbara affords easy access to new appellations and a variety of boutique vintners making respectable wines. Stop by A Taste of Monterey, 700 Cannery Row (tel. 888/646-5446 or 831/646-5446; www.tastemonterey.com), daily between 11am and 6pm, to learn about local wines and taste them in front of huge bayfront windows. The site also distributes maps and winery touring information.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.