I now live in Silicon Valley but grew up in the Salinas Valley. No matter how many years I live in Silicon Valley I don't know that anywhere but Salinas will feel like my hometown.
Not only did I grow up there but my mom grew up there and her mom grew up there and a few more generations back beyond that called it their hometown too. There is a lot of history in my family with Salinas to say the least!
Salinas is known for two things. Agriculture and John Steinbeck. The city nickname is actually "The Salad Bowl of the World" which is pretty fitting considering the amount of lettuce grown there. I never knew it was a skill to be able to drive past a field, glance at it and know what kind of vegetable it was until I left the area to go to college. There are lettuce (and other vegetable) fields surrounding most of the city and when they are all green and growing they are actually quite pretty. The few months of the year that there is nothing planted and they are just brown mounds of dirt not so much.
Salinas is also known as the hometown of John Steinbeck. He wrote about the area (not always nice things) in many of his books so I guess that makes the area famous too. All through middle school and high school we were assigned at least one Steinbeck book a year to read. Some are good and some are just downright boring. From my experience the longer the book the better so stay away from the short books!
Growing up I didn't think Salinas was the most exciting place but it was nice enough. We were close to Monterey (where the shopping was better) and only an hour from San Jose (where the shopping was better) and only 2 hours from San Francisco (where the shopping was even better).
All in all it was a nice place to grow up. All of my mom's family lived in Salinas too so I had built in playmates and we never had to travel for the holidays.
My husband and I talk about the possibility of moving back to Salinas because the cost of living is significantly less than where we live now and my parents still living there but we have good jobs where we are and neither of us is willing to do the hour plus commute so we are staying put for now.