The scenery in Big Sur, California cannot be done justice by film or secondhand account. An eclectic populace and cosmic vibe flows through the area and permeates Big Sur hotels, motels, shops and restaurants. A table with a view isn’t hard to come by in Big Sur. Neither is a sense of well-being. Cliffs, rocks, redwoods and effervescent surf create an epic backdrop for recreation, romance and relaxed exploration.
Big Sur History
Originally inhabited by the Esselen, Salinan and Ohlone Native Americans, Big Sur was first settled by the Spanish in the 1830s, but developed its first large settlements due to the Gold Rush. The lumber industry thrived in the late 1800s in Big Sur, despite the difficulty of reaching the area; the population of Big Sur was greater at that time than it is today. The three-day, dangerous overland journey to Monterey meant most supplies were brought in and goods shipped out by ocean, rather than by road.
The construction of Highway One in the 1930s transformed Big Sur, making its beauty accessible to all rather than just the most intrepid. Residents fought to protect Big Sur against development, preserving its charms and its remote feel. Get a feel for Big Sur's history by visiting Andrew Molera State Park, home to Big Sur's oldest building, and that famous Big Sur lighthouse, Point Sur Lighthouse.
Big Sur has provided inspiration to photographers, painters, writers and musicians. Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac chronicled the area in books, and Ansel Adams and Edward Weston captured Big Sur's rugged beauty on film. Robinson Jeffers described Big Sur in epic verse, which later became the inspiration for the Beach Boys' album Holland.
Today Big Sur remains a favorite place for local and international artists of every stripe. Galleries located along Highway One exhibit stunning visual art, while venues such as the Henry Miller Library and Fernwood Resort host both cutting-edge acts and big names. For more information on the Big Sur arts scene, see our Big Sur Arts and Culture page.
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