City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

Bookstore · North Beach
261 Columbus Ave (at Broadway), San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
Closed until 10:00 AM (Show more)
  • Mon–Sun
    • 10:00 AM–Midnight
Credit Cards:
Yes (incl. American Express)

Based on 461 votes

People like this place

  • What you need to know
    Carmen M.
    "Cut across jack Kerouac alley and you travel from Italy to china"(3 Tips)
    "Love the poetry section upstairs."(3 Tips)
    "1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin"(2 Tips)
    Dominic N.
    "Buy a book by Allen Ginsberg and other Beat writers!"(2 Tips)
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80 tips and reviews.

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  • books
  • kerouac
  • poetry section
  • poet lawrence ferlinghetti and peter d martin
  • novels
  • landmarks
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  • beer
  • historic buildings
  • beach
  • arts
  • Kian L.

    One of many amazing bookstores in the city. I get lost in writers every time I come here

    Kian Lavi · 1 week ago
  • Liza P.

    The best book store in the world! Legendary place, and the people who work here actually read. Always ask for recommendations.

    Liza P · 2 weeks ago
  • Paul F.

    Sure it is of historical significance, but don't lose sight of the fact that it is a cracking bookstore

    Paul Farrell · October 13
  • Enda N.

    Come and smell the beats generation breathing behind your neck

    Enda Nasution · September 22
  • Salvador .

    Great selection!

    Salvador 🐒 · September 5
  • S D.

    You can feel the history of this place as you go down each and every row of books. Do you like books? You have to check it out.

    S D · August 13
  • Jonathan D.

    So much history here. Go up to the poetry section and check out all the posters from Beat authors on the wall

    Jonathan Diaz · July 19
  • Robert H.

    This is one of the most expertly curated bookstores I've ever been to. Long after the Beat Generation faded, Ferlinghetti's voice is strong.

    Robert Hawkins · July 7
  • Allison A.

    Not as funky as I would have imagined it to be, but great selection (and obviously a worthwhile landmark for any lover of books or beatniks) nonetheless

    Allison Abbott · June 29
  • Tiana D.

    This place is magical. Get lost in it. And take a flick by the door- you'll know which one when you see it 😉

    Tiana Danger · April 23
  • Jan S.

    One of a kind. Go for the books and the history.

    Jan Shaw-Flamm · March 12
  • Kirstie O.

    Cool wee bookstore. Almost get lost in.

    Kirstie O'Donnell · January 15
  • Dillon C.

    If you like to browse your books late at night, this is the place to go. Open till midnight. Staff is super helpful, they don't turn to a computer straight away to find something.

    Dillon Chen · January 9
  • Claire J.

    Lots of history

    Claire Judson · December 21, 2014
  • Claire J.

    Very cool place, love the recommendations posted

    Claire Judson · December 21, 2014
  • Mariah M.

    their book selection is great.

    Mariah M · October 16, 2014
  • squeasel

    Any bookstore where you can shop till midnight, and catch Daniel Handler in a fez playing the accordion, cannot be a bad bookstore.

    squeasel · October 8, 2014
  • Mason B.

    Excellent wide selection of books.

    Mason Batley · September 25, 2014
  • Sarah

    Amazing bookstore with a well-curated selection. Love the poetry section upstairs.

    Sarah · September 15, 2014
  • St. Martin's Press

    Meet Nayomi Munaweera on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM as she reads from her debut novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors. Also in conversation with Paul Yamazaki. Read more

    St. Martin's Press · August 28, 2014
  • Monica C.

    Make sure you give yourself enough time here for some thorough browsing. I could easily spend hours here.

    Monica C · August 17, 2014
  • mipadi

    Check out the basement. There's a really interesting selection of books down there, including an ample science fiction section.

    mipadi · August 16, 2014
  • Jonathan K.

    Exactly what you want from an independent bookstore. It's quiet, has charm and a good selection.

    Jonathan Kramer · August 15, 2014
  • SFist

    Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, the independent bookstore and publisher specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. Read more

    SFist · August 3, 2014
  • Karri S.

    Beat generation bookstore

    Karri Saarinen · July 7, 2014
  • Cris F.

    I wanna a book. rsrsrs

    Cris Fianco · May 17, 2014
  • Ana M.

    Love♡♡.. phenomenal bookstore

    Ana Montes · May 16, 2014
  • Nate  H.

    simply the best

    Nate  Hermes · March 30, 2014
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux

    Meet David Grand on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM as he reads from his new novel Mount Terminus. Also with Wesley Stace. Read more

    Farrar, Straus & Giroux · February 12, 2014
  • Seth B.

    Obvious place to go.

    Seth Benson · September 26, 2013
  • Farrar, Straus & Giroux

    Meet literary critic John Freeman on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM as he reads from his new book, How to Read a Novelist. Also with Robin Sloan. Read more

    Farrar, Straus & Giroux · September 16, 2013
  • Roger M.

    Reading books may change your life!

    Roger Man Haus · August 30, 2013
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum

    City Lights Bookstore is the epicenter of Beat History, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin in 1953.

  • Jenny

    Learn how to look at a burrito here.

    Jenny · June 17, 2013
  • Foodie P.

    A great source for modern communist thought

    Foodie Pilgrim · June 15, 2013
  • Official smart USA

    It’s more than just a bookstore, it’s a forum for free thinking.

    Official smart USA · April 11, 2013
  • Tom E.

    This place is fantastic in its selection of books, historical significance and proximity to the Beat Museum! Worth the trip to visit.

    Tom Evans · April 7, 2013
  • Alex K.

    There's a picture with a funny caption about breakfast on the stairs that lead up to the poetry section..

    Alex Kim · March 18, 2013
  • Robert P.

    I wish I never had to leave this beautiful three story bookstore! It feels like taking a step back in time whenever you go in!

    Robert Packard · March 3, 2013
  • Michelin Travel & Lifestyle

    Relax with a book in the original Beatnik hangout, the first all-paperback bookstore in America when poet-owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened the doors in 1953. - Green Guide Editor

    Michelin Travel & Lifestyle · February 5, 2013
  • Racked

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti's legendary bookstore is not to be missed. He has been a literary force since the '50s, and the store has been in North Beach since 1953. [Racked 38 Member]

    Racked · February 4, 2013
  • Carmen M.

    Cut across jack Kerouac alley and you travel from Italy to china

    Carmen Myers · November 21, 2012
  • Aaron D.

    Such an incredible bookstore, you'll never want to leave.

    Aaron Draczynski · October 9, 2012
  • California Girl (CG)

    Excellent bookstore and with a rich Beatnik history. Photos of Kerouac abound.

    California Girl (CG) · August 6, 2012
  • Alix B.

    Go in, grab a seat upstairs, and read Howl.

    Alix Bloodworth · July 8, 2012
  • Al S.

    Buy a fucking book, huh?

    Al S · July 5, 2012
  • Tiffany

    Amazing literature in translation section. One of the best I have seen in the US.

    Tiffany · June 29, 2012
  • SF Weekly

    SF Weekly’s Best Of 2012 Winner – Editorial Pick - Best Place to Buy New Books. San Francisco’s status as one of America’s best book cities was somewhat threatened by closures over the last decade... Read more

    SF Weekly · May 30, 2012
  • Laura L.

    I can't leave this place! Every time I try to leave another great book I've been meaning to read catches my eye! Damn you City Lights.

    Laura Lubarov · May 24, 2012
  • Danny S.

    Put down your Kindle and read a book here the way things were meant to be read.

    Danny Sauter · April 24, 2012

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