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City Lights Booksellers

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 261 Columbus Ave, North Beach, San Francisco, CA 94133-4586
Phone Number:
+1 415-362-8193
10:00 - 00:00
Open now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 - 00:00

Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence...

Famous bookstore founded and still owned by Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 643 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 400
  • 105
    Very good
  • 31
  • 7
  • 0
Best Bookstore in the Bay Area

This is not only the best bookstore in the Bay Area but maybe in all of Northern California, though Green Apple on Clement Street is also pretty awesome .But it doesn't compare... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 2 days ago
San Francisco, California
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643 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 543: English reviews
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

This is not only the best bookstore in the Bay Area but maybe in all of Northern California, though Green Apple on Clement Street is also pretty awesome .But it doesn't compare historically to City Lights - ground zero for the Beat poets. You can't talk about City Lights without mentioning Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, activist, publisher, grand man of culture... More 

Thank Bosoxx33
Amersham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Came here straight after landing in San Francisco. It's an iconic store with much history and after spending so much time in its Paris 'surrogate sister' store, Shakespeare & Company, felt that I just needed to come. It's a wonderful place. The upstairs is home to the poetry and Beat literature (and the Beat Museum is handily across the road)... More 

Thank Samantha S
Lake Arrowhead, California
Level Contributor
287 reviews
128 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

City Lights is famous across the nation for good reason: it is a very high quality, independent bookstore. It caters to a more intellectual audience, especially to people who are politically aware and probably active. It offers everything a bookstore should offer from fiction to religion and attracts a loyal gathering. There are certainly books here you would have trouble... More 

Thank L6953YVpaull
Level Contributor
1,224 reviews
361 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

I've gone here many times over the years. It's known for hippie stuff, but they got my Grishams and other fun books too.

Thank Scrappleking
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
76 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Beatnecks and hippies and all those hip types from the cities past still are seen here. Real sweet! Beyond sweet and totally cool but very real if your are turned on by reading. Try it you might like it.

Thank richardleontonkin
Level Contributor
80 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

I've been here many times; decent bookstore, but Powell's City of Books in Portland & Elliot Bay Books in Seattle are both FAR superior. Still, I drop by here most trips to SFO...

Thank Randy S
Montclair, New Jersey
Level Contributor
29 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

A slice of history in a lovely, well-stocked bookstore filled with pictures and books of beatnik's. Son needed emergency Vonnegut while on vacation and, naturally, they had them all. Wish we could have lingered longer. Don't know if the hipster coffee spot (very good) across the street on the corner will be there when we return but I sure hope... More 

Thank GoodBrisket
Level Contributor
79 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Apart from having a remarkable selection, there's some really special history here. I won't spoil the surprise book lovers, figure it out yourself. Good neighborhood for hanging out at a cafe.

Thank Ellen S
Level Contributor
23 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

So i love City Lights... go there every SF trip and buy some book i've owned and given away many times ... usually some Kerouac... except this time... no purchase ... so please.... PLEASE! people working at the counter...please dont play the hipster elitist card when someone asks you a question... whether you like it or not... your not working... More 

Thank Victor R
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
4,767 reviews
1,737 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,768 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

In the days of disappearing bookshops, this is a treasure, particularly if you are looking for books outside the normal commercial genre - so much here for the intellect and learning some history of San Francisco.

Thank RonWamberal

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