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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 221 Shopping in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Specialty Shops, Historic Sites
Activities: Shopping
Description: Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
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112 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
17 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 19, 2014 NEW

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
353 reviews 353 reviews
245 attraction reviews
324 helpful votes 324 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
280 helpful votes 280 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
80 reviews 80 reviews
26 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 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
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 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
38 helpful votes 38 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
17 helpful votes 17 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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Manchester, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2014 credit card Amex Card Member Review

Always wanted to visit and it didn't disappoint. It's great to go in a bookshop that has it's own identity instead of being part of a chain. Could spend hours browsing.

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St. Petersburg, Florida
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
11 attraction reviews
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2014

I could have spent most of my day here at City Lights. The selection of books, clearly handpicked, was spread out amongst three floors. Their selection is really unique: it is not the typical titles you find in most stores. City Lights is also a publisher, so they carry their own titles as well. They have a large selection from... More

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