San Francisco, known for its fog, architecture and rolling hills, is a stunning city to explore. It’s also the perfect place for book lovers. I typed ‘bookshop’ into Google Maps on my phone and so many places popped up! These stores I visited should definitely be on your list of ‘must visit’ bookish places.
786 Sutter Street,
San Francisco, CA 94109
Argonaut is full of very old and rare books. It is cosy, and the staff are warm and welcoming. It was beautiful and had the quintessential dusty bookstore smell. You probably wouldn’t go to Argonaut to browse for your next favourite book, but it has a wonderful atmosphere and is fun to explore the dusty titles.
50 Second St,
San Francisco, CA 94105
Three levels of book heaven! Alexander’s has something for everyone, and I spent a long time browsing the shelves. There are also lots of gifts including pins, socks, book stands etc. Tote bags! I had to resist buying one or ten! I bought a copy of Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better by Madisen Kuhn, which I’ve been after for a while but haven’t been able to find anywhere in Melbourne. I also succumbed to a cute pin set with a pair of glasses and a book pile saying #booklife. A must visit in SF.
151 Third St,
San Francisco, CA 94103
While my partner (an architect) was outside taking pictures of the building, I skipped the museum and headed straight for the gift shop. It was huge! I felt like I was visiting a bookshop instead of a museum gift shop. There were so many sections. Books relating to current exhibits as well as general art and architecture. There is also fiction and non-fiction. children’s books, poetry etc. I picked up and put down Bibliophile by Jane Mount several times before telling myself ‘it’s too heavy’ and finally walking away. Instead, I treated myself to a Frida Kahlo pin (much smaller and more practical luggage wise). There were countless gifts like pins, socks, washi tape and jewellery. I could have spent a lot of time and money in that store – yes, I know, you’ve heard that before.
261 Columbus Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94133
The store front takes up practically a whole block. and, on the exterior are red banners that read ‘Paper may burn but words will escape -Lawrence Ferlinghetti’. I felt the rebellious feminist inside me rumble as I walked through the doors. City Lights is on three levels and has a true bookstore smell. There are posters on the walls reading things like ‘FREE THE PRESS from its corporate owners’ and ‘We love books’ I bought a postcard with the message ‘Books not bombs’
601 Van Ness,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Books Inc. has the biggest and best sale section I’ve ever seen. I was sorely tempted by Oscar Wilde’s The Prince. Such a good price but I resisted – I already have two copies at home! The YA section was incredible. Three whole bookcases! A signed copy of We Are Okay by Nina LaCour screamed ‘buy me’. Somehow I managed to put it down – it’s getting harder to do so!
562 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
The bar below the Hotel Emblem is a must visit. There’s a book wall with a cut-out in the shape of a person. It’s the book lover’s dream – one step forward and you become part of the bookcase. There are also books for reading, typewriters scattered around and plenty of cosy seating. Attached to the bar is Bluestone Cafe, an Australian-inspired coffee shop with Melbourne-worthy coffee. There’s vegemite toast on the menu! Unfortunately, the bread isn’t vegan so I had to pass.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited any of these amazing bookish spots or if there’s any places I’ve missed! 🙂