Hi friends. If you have an extra day or so going between Los Angeles and Northern California you definitely should drive up route one (most beautiful high way in the world) and take a look at literary landmarks around Central California. I might be biased because I lived in Big Sur for almost nine months last year, but it really is a beautiful and inspirational place to be. Don’t just take my word for it. Authors like Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti agree. Here are some don’t-miss literary spots along the way through this beautiful coast line.
Stop One – Henry Miller Memorial Library: Don’t expect the Henry Miller Memorial Library to be like any other memorial library you’ve ever visit. The author himself said he didn’t believe in memorials, but somehow I think he’d be happy with this somewhat randomly put together space. It’s in the middle of Big Sur’s beautiful red woods, has a stage where bands, films, and readings are regularly performed. There is also a nice book store with a variety of books and items related to Miller, his contemporaries, and local authors and artists. Other than that there isn’t a lot of there there (if you know what I mean) but it’s such a beautiful spot I recommend staking a look. Afterwards, you might want to head for lunch at Nepenthe.
Stop Two – Point Lobos Natural State Reserve: – Along with being my favorite place to take a walk many people say Point Lobos served as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. I’ve never seen more spectacular views than while walking along these trails, which aren’t too steep for those who are concerned. This is probably my favorite place in the world, so I can’t suggest you go highly enough.
Stop Three – Robinson Jeffers Tor Home: You may not have heard of the poet Robinson Jeffers (I hadn’t until someone recently told me about his house) but I’ve been assured that his house is a must-see place to visit for literary and architecture fans alike. I, alas, haven’t been yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. Check the website for when they are open. Currently I believe they only give tours on Fridays and Saturdays, or by special appointments that must be made a week in advance.
Stop Four – Robert Louis Stevenson House: Even though Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t live in in Monterey for very long the house he lived in has been restored and devoted to celebrating the author. My nanny used to take me and my sister here all the time when we were children. My sister used to memorize poems of his and recite them at different spots around the house.
Stop Five – Cannery Row: Before you head to Salinas and the Steinbeck Center, stop by Cannery Row. You will get to see where the real Doc Ricketts lived and see quotes from Steinbeck’s novel on banners. With all the tourists (mostly due to the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium) it’s hard to imagine the Monterey Steinbeck wrote about, but I think it’s still a nice place to take a walk and think of the past.
Also if you need to buy a book during this leg of the journey, stop by River House Books in Carmel. It’s a small local bookstore, but I’ve never gone in without getting lots of ideas for books I want to read in the future and the employees are great at giving suggestions.
If you ever are going to this part of California please do comment here or contact me for more suggestions if you’d like them!