City Lights Booksellers
City Lights Booksellers
4.5
Speciality & Gift Shops • Historic Sites
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10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Monday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Friday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
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About
Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Chinatown
As the oldest in North America, San Francisco's Chinatown is an exotic experience. A unique neighborhood decorated with colorful shops, historic streetlights, hanging lanterns, and pagoda roofs awaits behind the stone-carved dragon gates. Feast on dim sum at the tea houses, or meet the locals who gather at historic Portsmouth Square to play chess or practice Tai Chi. Fish markets, produce stands, tourist shops, jewelry stores, fortune tellers, temples and restaurants come together to create a world unto itself in this historic neighborhood.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
1,024 reviews
Excellent
739
Very good
216
Average
57
Poor
10
Terrible
2

Overtimetravel
Brooklyn, NY329 contributions
Friends
Legendary... what else can be said about the most amazing bookstore in the US (powell in portland.. salute) and one of the most historic on the planet. The Beatniks made it their home as of 1953. Kerouac, Ginsburg, Burroughs, Ferlinghetti along with countless other thinkers, writers, poets, artists. If you’re in SF dont miss out. Located at end of Chinatown and beginning of North Beach. Still very active with a great selection of books but also readings and other events occur here.

La librairie City lights a ne pas manquer si vous passez a SF. Proche du downtown, cette librairie est historique par sa contribution au movement des Beatniks des années 50. Toujours tres active. A decouvrir.
Written January 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

mini
Fremont, CA174,292 contributions
I always like to look for a fun and interesting book to purchase and read when I visit City Lights Bookstore. The store was started by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D, Martin, The bookstore carries a wide variety of books. It is in North Beach.

In 2001 it was declared a national landmark.

The bookstore specializes in progressive politics, fiction and poetry, cutural studies, and world history.
Written January 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tim S
San Francisco, CA52 contributions
City Lights is a San Francisco establishment, a throwback to the days of the great local bookstores. Not a huge number of titles, but packed with wonderful surprises. I always find something I was never expecting. And if you are a Beat fan, there is nowhere else.
Written January 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

TStan91
Chapel Hill, NC316 contributions
I love an independent book store! City lights was tight and hard to navigate with a much smaller selection than I expected. I always have a list of "to get" books in both fiction and non-fiction. I couldn't find a single one. It didn't help the staff seemed indifferent to my searching. I'm glad that I visited and I hope they can survive.
Written August 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

emily13anne
Lincoln, NE93 contributions
Honestly, we didn't get the hype. It's a nice bookstore in an interesting area of the city, but nothing amazing. Too crowded and kinda snotty staff. The different levels are unique and they did have some sections that a typical bookstore wouldn't have, but wouldn't go out of the way to stop here.
Written August 4, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

kayakatnip
Bridgend, UK28 contributions
Solo
Having watched ‘You’ on Netflix I didn’t think book shops like that really existed. Only corporate ones and online booksellers. I was pleasantly surprised to find City Lights had all the charm of the shop in You. The staff really know their art and quickly knew the author of what I thought was an obscure book that I was looking for. They didn’t have it and they didn’t have another I asked for but it’s a small shop so you can’t expect everything! They appear to shy away from mass fiction authors too. Still I enjoyed the experience of the quaint surroundings and purchased a random book!
Written January 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

RHS1946
Monroe, MI122 contributions
You wind your way around the many rooms in this bookstore. Titles are quite different than in the "Chain" bookstores and there are treasures to find if you like Beat Poetry, politics, culture studies, fiction. I found a book with Poe stories that I think a granddaughter will love. Definitely worth checking out and they were even open on New Year's Day!
Written January 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Thomas V
Oakland, CA13,813 contributions
This bookstore is indeed historic and worth a visit, especially if you love books. And make a purchase to keep it going. Famous for the Beatnik and Beats era, but also just a community institution. Part of North Beach, close to downtown and Chinatown.
Written October 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

JKL V
Fair Lawn, NJ107 contributions
Multiple storey, cozy bookstore with tons of books to meet everyone’s interests. It is not modern, but homey.

The deco has a historic appeal. Furnishing look antique and blends well with the ambience.

A must stop if you want to step back in time.
Written May 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Rick G
San Francisco, CA27 contributions
Fascinating and historic bookstore, if the walls could talk. Best bookstore in the City!! 3 stories of all the books you would want to read. Located in a great part of town. A short walk to North Beach, Chinatown and the Financial District.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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City Lights Booksellers (San Francisco) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about City Lights Booksellers

City Lights Booksellers is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Buy tickets in advance on Tripadvisor. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.

We recommend booking City Lights Booksellers tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 6 City Lights Booksellers tours on Tripadvisor