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City Lights Booksellers

261 Columbus Avenue, North Beach, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Chinatown)
415 362 8193
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92%
Ranked #2 of 223 Shopping in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Historic Sites, Specialty Shops, Shopping
Activities: Shopping
Owner description: Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Attraction details
Type: Historic Sites, Specialty Shops, Shopping
Activities: Shopping
Hours:
Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 12:00 am
Owner description: Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

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118 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Cape Town
Top Contributor
121 reviews 121 reviews
21 attraction reviews
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 15, 2014

This place is a real bookshop...the sort of bookshop that used to exist before the internet killed them. Its heritage is well known and I enjoyed the posters on the wall and the sense of history that it provides. You'll see books here that you've never seen elsewhere and and it has a wonderfully quirky atmosphere. Let's hope it's around... More 

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Carlsbad, California
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
11 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2014 credit card Amex Card Member Review

Like Powell's in Portland, so is City Lights a must-stop in SF. Just a fabulous book store in a fabulous city. You can find the top-sellers, but you'd be hard-pressed not to leave with a book by someone you've never heard of. The Beat really does go on.

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Santa Monica, California
Top Contributor
160 reviews 160 reviews
52 attraction reviews
183 helpful votes 183 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2014

The place isn't just a legend, it's a real life bookstore! With real life books! You can't say you've been to San Francisco if you haven't been here. Jack Kerouac Alley is next to the store and is a must see in San Francisco. Must see. Vesuvio Cafe is on the other side of the alley and is a great... More 

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San Ramon, California
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
38 attraction reviews
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2014

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
39 helpful votes 39 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
357 reviews 357 reviews
246 attraction reviews
341 helpful votes 341 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
668 reviews 668 reviews
394 attraction reviews
297 helpful votes 297 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
105 reviews 105 reviews
36 attraction reviews
30 helpful votes 30 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
Reviewer
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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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?