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City Lights Booksellers

261 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Chinatown)
415 362 8193
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Ranked #2 of 222 Shopping in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Historic Sites, Specialty Shops, Shopping
Activities: Shopping
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Attraction details
Owner description: Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

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115 reviews from our community

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English first
San Ramon, California
Top Contributor
62 reviews 62 reviews
37 attraction reviews
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2014 NEW

Yes, its a landmark bookstore, so certainly worth a visit. And I'm sure a pilgrimage for folks who especially adore those times and type of literature that made this famous. I personally felt somewhat underwhelmed though .. kinda cramped, lack of comfortable seating to just sit back and relax, not much of 'light' reading (IMO), small magazine section with almost... More

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Mechanicsville, Virginia
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
25 attraction reviews
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2014

I love books.An afternoon browsing in a bookstore is my idea of heaven. City Lights is an absolute must see for book lovers! It's a pilgrimage of sorts. It's three floors, with lots of nooks and crannies to curl up in with a good book. It's full of quirky signs like "educate yourself. Read 14 hours a day" and "... More

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Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
17 attraction reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2014

A pilgrimage to City Lights. Wall to ceiling books, fiction, history, media, texts, poetry. Whatever you need. The book store is also home to the City Lights Press where they still to this day publish poets and counter culture writers. The beat collection is as complete as you will find any place. The basement is full of hard to find... More

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Brisbane, Australia
Top Contributor
356 reviews 356 reviews
245 attraction reviews
337 helpful votes 337 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2014

If you love books then City Lights Bookstore is for you, it is jam packed over three floors, the range of books is impressive. I enjoyed browsing in the section on architecture and history, books I had not seen before. It has a very charming atmosphere but on the day of my visit the store was rather hot and I... More

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Cambridge, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
667 reviews 667 reviews
394 attraction reviews
290 helpful votes 290 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2014

As someone who grew up reading the beats, this was a place that has always been on my list. I finally managed to visit and was amazed by the range of books. Historical context aside, the shop is huge and sells a vast range of books. It is an unusual beast in that it is a successful bookshop. In these... More

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Top Contributor
101 reviews 101 reviews
34 attraction reviews
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 22, 2014

I love old bookstores and this one is absolutely wonderful. Loads of books, somewhat cramped and chairs to sit and read. The staff is helpful and prices are reasonable.

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Melbourne, Australia
3 reviews 3 reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2014

A fantastic range of books with a lovely atmosphere. Makes you feel as if you are going back in time. Good place for those who love poetry.

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Castle Rock, Colorado
19 reviews 19 reviews
10 attraction reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2014

Wonderful bookstore! Books you won't find other places. Downstairs, exceptional non-fiction, main floor fiction and lots of it, upstairs poetry. We went several times and sent home a lot of books. Loved it!

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Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
100 reviews 100 reviews
62 attraction reviews
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2014

Appropriately located across the street from the Beat Museum, the City Lights Bookstore is a mecca for lovers of the Beat Generation of writers. The store is overflowing with literary classics and you could easily spend an entire day there just browsing, before you get your wallet out. There are areas where you can sit and browse/read before you buy... More

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Tipperary, Ireland
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2014

What's not to like? An upstairs that is simply the Poetry Room, with a Poet's Chair. But, that couldbe mere window dressing in another shop - here it's true, the selection of poetry books is superb, their buyer must have an excellent eye. Downstairs, heir categorisation is somewhat unusual - they have extensive shelves of translated fiction- these are labelled... More

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