4 Bookstores in San Francisco You Need To Visit

San Francisco is well known for the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, but the city is home to many more cool things you need to check if you visit it, and one of them is bookshops. From old bookshops that have been around for years to new independent bookstores, those have proven to be more alive than ever and doing well. So, whether you are an avid or casual reader, here is a list of the best bookstores in San Francisco you should consider visiting.

The city receives a lot of tourists all year round, many people on business trips or leisure trips visit the steep streets and take a walk also, there are many things to do in San Francisco for any taste, including historical landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz and parks like Oracle Park but something that may fly under the radar for many tourists are the huge amounts of bookstores you can find in San Francisco.

The feeling of looking through bookshelves for different books like good historical fiction books, or checking a pile of books, waiting to find something interesting, is priceless.

If you have enough time in the area, you should head to Paso Robles, it has one of the best hot springs around

inside a bookstore in san francisco ca

How to Get Around

The best way to get around in San Francisco is renting a car, you can use services like Fox Rent a Car to move around easily. There’s no better way to know a city than driving on its streets.

There are many other ways to get around San Francisco. You can try at least one time the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Also, you can try ride-sharing apps, taxis, or shuttle services.

Best Bookstores in San Francisco

Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Bookstore

Located in Fort Manson, this branch of the San Francisco Public Library is the best-used bookstore in San Francisco, and if you’re into rare books or interested in used books, this place is for you. One of the biggest draws of this bookstore is the fact that it’s not messy like your usual library, offering a bunch of weird stuff.

They sure have some weird books, but they also have current titles, bestsellers, and popular titles. Also, the library bookstore has a café with free Wi-Fi, where you can enjoy a coffee, and some sweets on top of a nice read.

Location: 1630 17th St, San Francisco

City Lights Bookstore

You enjoy history, and if you’re looking for the most famous bookstore in San Francisco then City Lights Bookstore is for you, it was founded in 1953 and was also a performance venue, giving light to the Beat Poet movement. Along with a nearby coffee shop called Vesuvio Cafe was a hangout spot for people like Allen Ginsber, Jack Kerouac, and many more musicians, artists, and writers of the beat movement.

Interesting enough, the owner itself was a Beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. To this day, the bookstore is a landmark in the ongoing culture, giving space to out-of-the-box ideas with a room dedicated to poetry.

The history involving this place makes it a great place to visit.

Location: 261 Columbus Ave. North Beach, San Francisco

Green Apple Books

Another San Francisco bookstore that’s have been around since 1960. Many authors have stated that the Green Apple Books shop is one of their favorites, and its success is proven by having two locations in SF. Besides that it’s one of the largest bookstores in SF, their main location has at least 8000 square feet of space full of books.

You can find all kinds of books, from used and old to new, bestsellers in all the subjects you can imagine, also have a huge variety of DVDs and music, as well as gifts, and novelty items about San Francisco.

The second location, Green Apple Book on the Park is not as big as the main one, but it’s different. The biggest draw about it is the fact that they sell picnic blankets, you literally can pick a book, get some tea and enjoy a great time in Golden Gate Park, a unique experience in my opinion.


Green Apple Book (main): 506 Clement St, San Francisco

Green Apple Book on the Park: 520 Clement St, San Francisco

The Book Passage

The Book Passage is one of the best bookshops in San Francisco when it comes to stunning views, every single window gives you a view of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It has been around for more than 40 years, offering a nice selection of books, from new ones to older ones, also Book Passage offers a wide selection of politics, current affairs, and environment preservations.

But definitely one of the biggest draws of this place is its location, inside the Ferry Building which is easily recognized by the clocktower, adding another level of uniqueness.

Location: 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco


As you can see, San Francisco has many places to visit, including old and historic bookstores, each of them offering something different and unique stuff for its reader, from tea areas, and poetry rooms to coffee shops. If you travel to San Francisco and visit some of its historical landmarks, take some time to visit Book Passage, which is incredible for its location.

Last Updated on May 1, 2023

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