SALINAS, California - Many of John Steinbeck’s most beloved stories take place in the Salinas Valley, where he was born in 1902. Steinbeck once said: “I think I would like to write the story of this whole valley. ... I can see how I would like to do it so that it would be the valley of the world.” The world certainly took to Steinbeck and to the valley where he grew up and worked summers on ranches and sugar beet farms. The author of “Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men” won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962. He set many stories, such as “East of Eden” and “Tortilla Flat,” in the Salinas Valley or elsewhere in central California. Salinas now pays tribute to its favorite son at the National Steinbeck Center, a downtown museum, library and archive that explores Steinbeck’s life and works and preserves his papers. Travelers visiting the museum will also find shops and restaurants in Salinas’ quaint downtown. But the streets begin to roll up when the museum closes, especially on weekdays, so plan to have a bite to eat before a museum visit. The Steinbeck Center is a fitting and interesting homage to the author. The center’s museum explores the influences the area had on Steinbeck throughout his life. Exhibits about his work are arranged by book, with each of Steinbeck’s most popular works having their own large display explaining their literary and historical significance and cultural influence. Clips from the film versions of many of the books play in the exhibits, which might seem a bit incongruous, but is quite appropriate. Steinbeck, like a lot of high-powered writers of his era, dabbled in Hollywood, adapting several of his own published works for film and writing screenplays such as “Viva Zapata!” Visitors will also see mementos of Steinbeck’s life, including the truck camper he drove during the adventures that he turned into his book “Travels With Charley: In Search of America.” The book, an account of a cross-country journey with his dog Charley, is supposedly non-fiction. In truth, the book, like most of Steinbeck’s work, is fabulous in every meaning of the word. Steinbeck died in 1968. He remains one of America’s most celebrated authors, in his beloved Salinas Valley and far, far beyond. Steve Stephens can be reached at sstephens@dispatch.com or on Twitter@SteveStephens.