City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco

4.6
City Lights Booksellers, a funky bookstore founded by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, serves as a literary meeting place in San Francisco. Stop in and have a look around this independent bookstore/publishing house established in 1953 and famous for the obscenity trial it faced after releasing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" in 1956. Located between North Beach and Chinatown, this bookstore became a historic landmark in 2001. You can also shop the unique book collection here, which focuses on world literature, arts, and politics. With our online itinerary creator, San Francisco attractions like City Lights Booksellers can be center stage of your vacation plans, and you can find out about other attractions like it, unlike it, near it, and miles away.
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City Lights Booksellers reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
1,010 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • There are so many attractions when visiting the city by the bay that some lesser knowns can be overlooked. As the husband of a librarian City Lights was not one I would dare miss. It is both an...  more »
  • An historic must for any bibliophile, especially lovers of poetry. Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights is wonderful.  more »
  • City lights has an endlessly rich history and presence. From the moment you step in, soak up the vibe of the Beat Generation’s nights of poetry readings; and maybe one during your visit now. You’ll....  more »
Google
  • Always a delight. So many incredible books. I love coming in here and browsing. Inevitably, I snap up one or two titles. My favorite section is the American Indian section. There are always lots of titles dedicated not only to history, but to current affairs and politics of ongoing settler colonialism which challenge us to re-examine our legitimacy as occupants of this land. They also have many great titles on labor and on SF history and travel which I love. Upstairs is the poetry room dedicated to the beats, mostly men of course. Among them you may find a woman or two whose talent and depth exceeds all the men. I enjoy the poetry room because it is the quietest, most secluded part of the store. There is a table and chair which invites you to sit and read some verses or write a couple yourself. The room overlooks an alley and neighboring rooftop which one could use to simulate the idea that they were writing in their kitchen in a cramped North Beach apartment. Cheaper than renting your own!
  • Great bookshop! Green Apple has a healthy mix and selection of both used and new books. The tables out front are definitely worth a look! I spend quite a while rifling through them & emerged with too many gems for cheap.
  • This is just an incredible place. The history running through it is almost unbelievable and the space reminds you of that while not feeling at all dated or dingy. In fact it's almost too neat and organized considering it's origins but there's just enough grit, posters and protest pamphlets and memorabilia dating back to the 60s to keep it totally authentic while being such a functional modern store at the same time. Awesome, broad selection of books, both beat classics and contemporary alternative/progressive works. Prices are maybe a tad high but come on, you know they have to charge that to pay the sky-rocketing rents and keep this institution going, it's worth every penny for the ambiance and historical significance. Will definitely drop by any time I can get to SF.
  • Next to Powell's bookstore in Portland Oregon, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers is the best. So many books, and who knew people still read. It's a thing. Very artsy store and patrons. Clean and organized. Whole floor dedicated to poems. This is a must visit place if you like books, knowledge or curious why people read.
  • Mecca for poetry lovers and beat era writers. It was celebrating their 71st birthday that day. Lawrence Ferlinghetti wasn't there yet. Warning: not terribly ADA friendly but entirely worth the risk.

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8 days in California BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping, popular sights Preferences: January, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, shopping Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 15 days in Anaheim & San Francisco BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES October, teens, outdoors, shopping, fast-paced, popular sights Preferences: October, teens, outdoors, shopping Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Fast-paced 11 days in California BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, culture, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular & hidden gems Preferences: January, culture, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife Attraction style: Popular & hidden gems Pace: Medium 26 days in United States BY A USER FROM THE NETHERLANDS September, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, slow & easy, popular sights Preferences: September, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Slow & easy 60 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA January, popular sights Preferences: January Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 13 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular sights Preferences: November, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 29 days in San Francisco BY A USER FROM BELGIUM March, popular sights Preferences: March Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 15 days in San Francisco, Los Angeles & San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular sights Preferences: January Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 15 days in Saudi Arabia & San Francisco BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular sights Preferences: January Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 60 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife, popular sights Preferences: March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, wildlife Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 58 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM January, popular sights Preferences: January Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium 50 days in San Francisco & New Orleans BY A USER FROM LATVIA November, popular sights Preferences: November Attraction style: Popular sights Pace: Medium
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