Soledad California and Soledad Mission

The "Small Town with a Large Heart" as Soledad touts itself, can be easily missed if you zip down Highway 101 driving too fast.


The speed limit ranges between 65 and 70 miles per hour along the route and travelers eager to get from one place to the next would be most likely to stop in Soledad to pick up loads of head lettuce, broccoli, leaf lettuce, strawberries, wine grapes, nursery plants and flowers for delivery to other locations. While this farm community located in the center of a 90-mile stretch of Salinas Valley, the "world's salad bowl", looks scenic and peaceful with its miles of fields, billions of dollars are at stake here in the race to grow and rapidly bring to market perishable items.

The City of Soledad was founded and named for the very image it portrays with its blue skies, lush, green fields and singular feel,  described in the word "soledad" which means "solitude".  Named after the historic Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad at 36641 Fort Romie Road, the majority of the approximately  80% Hispanic citizens continue to say prayer in the tradition of the padres and freres who staked claim to the region in the name of Spain over 230 years ago. 


When visiting Soledad, you may be seeing someone at the prison and need a place to stay. But hopefully you are there for a more positive experience such as a road trip passing through on Interstate Highway 101. If so, then there one  hotel in the city, but more will no doubt be built as the region continues to expand. You can see it happening now.


Celebrations such as the annual Mission Nuestra Senora de Soledad Grape Stomp Festival and BBQ with Mariachi Bands in October and Soledad Community Parade and Fiesta in June provide opportunities for tourists to enjoy the country charm and colorful heritage of music, dance and food with a flair, uniquely prepared and served to local tastes..  Out at the mission and in parks throughout Central California, you'll notice giant, stone barbecue pits that are sometimes 10 feet in length, large enough to fan the flames of an oak fire where beef is cooked and served to an entire ranch, community or town. 


While special events last only a day or two and might not be thre when you pass through the region, wine tasting is available nearly every day at several of Soledad's dozen or so wineries that include: Bocage, Chalone Vineyard, Cobblestone Vineyards, Estancia Estates, Hahn Estates, Hess Select, Kendall-Jackson, Mirassou Vineyard, Paraiso Springs Vineyard, Pavona Wines, Robert Mondavi, Smith & Hook and Wente Brothers Winery in Arroyo Seco. See Wine List, Monterey County. Wineries with tasting rooms nearby can be found in cities such as Gonzales, as well.


Soledad is situated in the heart of the 90-mile-long Salinas Valley, nestled between the Santa Lucia mountains with their striking Big Sur coast to the west and the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains with famed Pinnacles National Monument to the east. Along the banks of the Salinas River, approximately 25 miles from the Pacific coast, the city is also situated near Highway 101 and is bordered by Salinas and King City.  Midway between the Sierra de Salinas and Gabilan Mountain Ranges, communities that include Soledad, make up the south county area of Monterey.


How modern day Soledad began - Two small hotels, a feed lot, post office and a store marked the beginnings of today's Soledad in 1874.  In 1886, land was subdivided into lots and sold by its owners, the Munras family. As the town took shape, Southern Pacific Railroad began laying rails and providing service to the area.  Vital to the rapid transport of perishable items that had to get to market quickly, Soledad now could expand its economic base, reaching out to the world with its products.


Though farming is the primary industry, the California Department of Corrections' Soledad Training Facility has been around for well over 50 years.  Located three miles north of the City until 1990, it was annexed and is expanding, with the addition of the Salinas Valley State Prison. This long time neighbor is seen for its positive benefits, providing jobs and services and making Soledad the safest city in Monterey County. It is even safer that the sleepy hollow of Pacific Grove where crime is almost nonexistent, according to the Soledad Mission Chamber of Commerce.


THE CROPS BY THE NUMBERS     Head lettuce - $423,543,000    Broccoli - $225,241,000   Leaf lettuce - $213,180,000   Strawberries - $209,766,000   Wine Grapes - $203,412,000  Flowers/nursery - $134,804,000   Cauliflower - $116,686,000   Celery - $83,100,000   Mushrooms - $52,183,000   Spinach - $49,103,000      Artichokes - $37,368,000    Spring mix - $35,541,000  Tomatoes - $24,722,000   Green onions - $21,169,000    Beef cattle - $19,287,000   Chili peppers - $16,120,000   Dairy - $13,103,000 



Here are some things to do, places to go and contacts to help you in Soledad, California, the Small Town with a Large Heart:


NO. 233 MISSION NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LA SOLEDAD - This mission, founded October 9,1791 by Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, ministered to the Indians of the Salinas Valley. Governor José Joaquín de Arrillaga died here July 24, 1814 and was buried in the chapel. Prosperous in its early years, Soledad declined after 1825, but Father Vicente Francisco Sarría stayed on in poverty to serve the Indians until his death in 1835, when the mission was secularized. It was regranted to the Bishop of Monterey in 1859. In ruins after 1874, the chapel was reconstructed and dedicated under the auspices of the Native Daughters of the
Golden West, October 1955.
Location:  Fort Romie Rd (Co Rd G-17), 2.5 mi W of Soledad

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad - Mission Nuestra Señora Dolorosísima de la Soledad, thirteenth in the chain of Alta California missions, was established on October 9, 1791, at the site of an Esselen Indian village  The Soledad Mission is very quiet and peaceful. It maintains imposing ruins of the early mission, restored chapel and a garden. Located South of Soledad off Highway 101, take Arroyo Seco Road exit. Continue to Fort Romie Road making a right-hand turn. Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad is approximately 1.3 miles in on Fort Romie Road. The Mission is one of very few that continues as both a Historical landmark and operated as a Church under the auspices of the Catholic Church.  Phone 831-678-2586  


Paraiso Hot Springs - The Springs has an enclosed hot mineral bath, outdoor pools, which are fed by the hot bath, and a large-size pool. The grounds open at 9:00 AM for day guests and the pools open at 10:00 AM and close at 6:00 PM. Campgrounds are available. Call (408)678-2882 for additional information.

Pinnacles National Monument - West Pinnacles can be reached from Soledad off Highway 101. Signs are posted in town guiding you to this monument. Known for its dramatic rock structures formed through volcanic action, millions of years in the making, the mountain climbs are for challenging and dangerous. Picnics, hiking and camping available.  Write to: Superintendent, Pinnacles National Monument, Pacines, CA 95043.


River Rafting -  Willow Creek to Arroyo Center bridge, Class IV, 3 hiking and 4 river miles, 1 day, 150 - 350 cfs, flow measured downstream near Soledad (USGS site)  Put-in at Willow Creek pack bridge, 500',  Take-out at Arroyo Center picnic area, 300'. One of the most scenic class IV runs in California, though not described in guidebooks and the AWA River Inventory. Drive to the locked gate and carry boats about 2 miles (slightly uphill and then down) to a bridge across Santa Lucia Creek. This is an alternate put-in, although the quarter mile of bump and grind on Santa Lucia Creek to the confluence is probably harder than the extra 1 mile boat carry. Continue uphill on the dirt road to a trail junction, where there are excellent views southward up Arroyo Seco canyon, then descend to the Willow Creek pack bridge.  There is also a good trail down to the Seco just before the road curves left and starts downhill to Santa Lucia Creek.


Salinas Valley State Prison (7)  Levels 1, 4  PO Box 1020, Soledad, CA 93960-1020  (831) 678-5500 Personnel x5584

Soledad Mission Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 335 Soledad, CA 93960 831/678-2278  Email:

City of Soledad  248 Main Street  P.O. Box 156 Soledad, CA 93960  831/678-3963

Wine tasting:
Chalone Vineyard Hwy 146, Soledad, 831/678-1717 Monterey County's oldest producing vineyard and one of California's premier producers of wines from the Burgundian varieties. Spectacular location high above the Salinas Valley in the Gavilan Mountains next to the Pinnacles National Monument.  Tours, tasting sales, picnic area available.  Open 11:30-4, Sat-Sun, and weekdays by appointment. 


Paraiso Springs Vineyards  38060 Paraiso Springs Road, Soledad, 93960 Tasting Room open daily, noon-4pm; weekends, 11-5pm. Overlooking the sweeping Salinas Valley, picnics on the deck of the Paraiso Springs Vineyard's Tasting Room.  Works of local craftsmen featured with wine gift packs for sale in  tasting room. Facilities for parties, luncheons, tours and special events are available.  Call 831/678-0300. 


Smith & Hook / Hahn Estates,   From Highway 101: At Soledad, take Arroyo Seco exit and head west. Make a right onto Fort Romie. Make a left onto Colony. Make a right onto Foothill. Smith & Hook/Hahn sign is on left. Follow road up 1.5 miles to winery.  11:00 am - 4:00 pm   7 days a week  (Closed on certain holidays) hone: (831) 678-2132 / Fax: (831) 678-0557  Weddings in an outdoor setting, small receptions, private, intimate dinners and conferences. 



Paso Robles < Soledad > Salinas

  soledad california downtown buildings Elevation: 190'   Chamber of Commerce: 831-678-2278

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