Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur

Big Sur Arts & Culture

Big Sur has a culture all its own. It is a community of artists, authors and naturalists, drawn to the area's beauty, sense of transcendence and peace, and in turn supporting each other in their creative pursuits. The landscapes of Big Sur have been inspiring artists, musicians, writers and even actors for decades. Visitors can experience the fruits of this inspiration at galleries, studios, festivals and gathering places all along the drive south on Highway 1.

Henry Miller Library

Big Sur is home to the Henry Miller Library, namesake of the author who called Big Sur "the first place (he) felt at home in America" after arriving in 1945. It serves as a gathering point for local artists, with regular open mic nights and gallery shows. It also presents workshops for musicians, artists, writers and children with an interest in the arts, serves as a performance space for local and national musical and spoken word acts, and even hosts film festivals.


Galleries and artist studios dot the Big Sur landscape. They're free-standing by the side of the road, incorporated into hotels, and tucked in between restaurants and meditation gardens. Stop at any venue and you're bound to see local artists' work. Most galleries are concentrated in a strip of Highway 1 between the Big Sur River Inn and the Henry Miller Library. In between stops, the breathtaking coastline views comprise their own kind of art exhibit.

Big Sur Artists and Writers

Big Sur has been immortalized in literature. Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel about his mental breakdown, Big Sur, takes place in part in the area. Henry Miller wrote about his life in the area in the book Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Poet Robinson Jeffers set many of his works in Big Sur. Counterculture writer Richard Brautigan's first novel was A Confederate General From Big Sur.

Writers aren't the only artists who have tried to capture Big Sur with their work. The Beach Boys sang about Big Sur on their album Holland, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers commemorated the area in their single Road Trippin'. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's classic film The Sandpiper was filmed in Big Sur.

Big Sur: Celebrity Hideaway

Stars have also used the area to escape the pressures of Hollywood. Nepenthe Restaurant was once the home of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Other luminaries that have made or currently make their homes in Big Sur include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Emile Norman, Edward Weston, and even (briefly) Hunter S. Thompson, whose first magazine feature was about the arts scene in Big Sur. Big Sur is also a popular place for secret celebrity weddings. Recent high-profile elopements include Jack Black and Tanya Haden, Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, and Ashley Jensen and Terence Beesley.


Lay of the Land

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Lay of the Land



County Map


Click on the links for high-resolution maps of Monterey County communities, suitable for printing: Monterey, Carmel and Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Salinas, Seaside, Marina, Sand City and Moss Landing.


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