City Lights Booksellers
City Lights Booksellers
4.5
Speciality & Gift ShopsHistoric Sites
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
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.
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,040 reviews
Excellent
749
Very good
219
Average
57
Poor
12
Terrible
3

TStan91
Chapel Hill, NC278 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tim S
San Francisco, CA53 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LeAnn H
Northville, MI42 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022
I'm a book lover and when I travel I must visit local/indie bookstores. City Lights is a well known so of course I had to visit. There are 3 floors, each with it's own theme. It's in an older building, which I love because it adds so much character to the space.
Written December 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

emily13anne
Lincoln, NE85 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kayakatnip
Bridgend, UK28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • 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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RHS1946
Monroe, MI130 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Denise
5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
Full of nooks and crannies and great books. A magical place to visit and buy books! A great span of subjects in a unique setting. My only gripe - I love mysteries and that section was not robust. But the rest of the inventory was amazing.
Written November 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Thomas V
Oakland, CA16,611 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sheri K
Aurora, CO21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022
It's a great shop! If you're an avid reader or know one, but sure to stop in. They have a huge selection and the staff is really wonderful. They'll take good care of you.
Written October 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JKL V
Fair Lawn, NJ116 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
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 as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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City Lights Booksellers - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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