Known as the “salad bowl of America,” my hometown of Salinas, California is not only rich in agriculture, but rich in heritage. From the annual California Rodeo in July to the California Airshow, Salinas has lots to offer both residents and visitors. It is also the hometown of esteemed author John Steinbeck. 

Growing up, I always resented how small my hometown seemed to be and always wanted to spend time in Monterey, which is where I was born. However, while I still love visiting Monterey, I now look forward to going home to Salinas during breaks from school. 

When I’m home, there are multiple activities I look forward to: Getting pan dulce at La Plaza Bakery and burritos from El Charrito, walking around downtown and visiting my old high school. If I am home over the summer, going to the rodeo and its kick-off concert are always fun activities, and they usually draw a huge crowd of both residents and tourists. 

While it is usually foggy due to its proximity to the ocean, Salinas has days of sun and sometimes intense heat, especially during summer months. Rain is something of a rare occurrence for almost all of California, but when it rains it is much appreciated, especially by the miles of fields surrounding the town.

If one was to go to their local grocery store and see produce from Taylor Farms or Dole Fresh Vegetables Co., it is most likely from Salinas. Everytime I see something from my hometown, whether it be strawberries, lettuce, broccoli or cauliflower, to name a few, I always make sure to buy it. Being from the salad bowl has given me an immense amount of appreciation for the farmworkers who pick the produce in the fields on a daily basis, oftentimes before the sun rises. 

Salinas also has a variety of cultures interwoven in its population. This has allowed me to interact with a mix of people from different cultures, including my own, as I am a mixed-race woman. 

Despite its location along California’s Central Coast, there is plenty to do in the areas surrounding Salinas. For example, Monterey has its aquarium, Cannery Row and the wharf. Carmel has a wide range of shops and dining opportunities. Additionally, the San Juan Bautista Mission is only 20 minutes away and Pinnacles National Park is roughly 50 minutes away. 

If one is looking to experience a larger city after visiting Salinas, San Jose is an hour away, San Francisco is roughly two hours away and Los Angeles is a five- to six-hour drive. 

Most of these places are easy day trips that I have taken tons of times since they are so close to home. 

Overall, being from Salinas has not only taught me more about my own culture, but has also helped me grow as a person due to everything I have experienced while growing up there. I don’t think I would be the person I am today if I didn’t grow up there and I can’t wait to be back there for a while after I graduate.

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