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City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco

(4.6/5 based on 650+ reviews on the web)
One of San Francisco's most popular independent bookshops and publishers, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers remains best known for its atmosphere and storied history. The store offers a wide selection of books, from world literature to political content. Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and educator Peter D. Martin, the establishment became famous when Ferlinghetti went to trial for publishing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," considered an obscene book. Located at the intersection of North Beach and Chinatown, this spot still reflects the progressive ideals on which it was founded. Stop in to browse, soak up the literary history, or pick up a good read. With our world travel planner, San Francisco attractions like City Lights Booksellers & Publishers 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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This historic bookstore seems to get its share of tourists, but it also has an extraordinary collection of books, especially beat poetry, its own label of interesting reads, and an excellent selection...  more »
  • I visit SF once every few years and this is my favorite spot to go on every trip. It feels like you've stepped back in time. Love it!  more »
  • This is one of those places that has had a fascinating history since its beginning. It's a rambling place with loads of wonderful finds and good staff recommendations. If you still enjoy touching and ...  more »
Google
  • Famous for publishing Beat Poets, this book shop has everything you'd want in a small, traditional, comfy spot. The atmosphere is close and quiet, and although the lighting is good it manages to feel yellow and warm, not white and bright like a big chain. I think it's the layout of this shop that encourages you to linger and browse - you feel like you are in a warren that goes in twists and turns with something new around every corner.
  • Book lovers and people interested in the Beat Generation and SF's cultural scene should go there. The bookshop is massive and you will find lots of interesting books on almost any subject. Recommended.
  • Such a cool shop. Amazing range of books and they are smart to sell merchandising gear for their own brand. Staff seemed a little aloof but who knows, I don't come from there.
  • 3 floors of books! The space is tight, but City Lights is definitely an SF treasure. Browse around and see what's available, and feel free to grab a book and a chair and start reading!
  • Historic spot that also serves as fantastic bookstore. Great, well organized selection with staff ready to help you if you need them.