Salinas CA

#3. Salinas CA

Salinas is the city where Bobby McGee slipped away from Janis, and honestly, it’s no surprise. It’s got a prime location, just inland from the Monterey Bay, and halfway between the City of Monterey and Santa Cruz. Thanks to that cold water, Salinas has the most even annual climate of any destination on this list, with year-round highs averaging in the 60s – 70s, and lows in mid 40s – 50s. You can pretend it’s fall, or spring, year-round. 

This mid-size town has just enough facilities to provide for a vanlifer’s necessary amenities. The biggest secret of Salinas though, with its proximity to so much fresh grown produce, is its food. There’s a diverse selection, but two standouts. First, Elli’s Great American Restaurant with a menu that will make you feel downright patriotic, and a sun-washed dining area. And second: the Steinbeck House, a perfect little Victorian home serving lunch, and on select days, dinner or tea. A regularly changing menu showcases local products. This is, in fact, the childhood home of John Steinbeck, with tours also available. If you loved “East of Eden,” check out the nearby National Steinbeck Center.

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