6 Bookstores to Visit in San Francisco

Whenever I travel, I tend to look for bookstores to visit. Luckily for me, San Francisco is one of the few cities that has a strong independent bookstore scene, and I love the city for that. I am now experiencing slight separation anxiety as I think about leaving this behind.

I love the nice, homey, community vibe that I get each time I walk into an indie bookstore. I waste spend a lot of time in bookstores, especially when they have a lot of staff recommendations scattered around, and I have, more often than not, accidentally spent a fortune buying pretty books from the shelves.

So if you find yourself in San Francisco and bookstores are part of your travel itinerary, I have six (I couldn’t bring it down to five) bookstores I recommend you visit. Admittedly, this isn’t a full list of the best bookstores in San Francisco, but these are the ones that I’ve enjoyed. I would probably trek the city for these, but good thing San Francisco is only 7×7 miles (and some of these bookstores are in close proximity to each other). OK, here is my list!

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Portlandia ~

One of my favorite cities to visit is Portland, OR because I never feel the pressure to always be doing something. OK, so I’ve only been to Portland twice: first in 2016 and more recently in 2018. Each time I went, I didn’t have the nagging feeling of “oh, I need to do this” or “I must go here.” That’s not to say that Portland is boring, rather, I feel that it speaks more to the easy-going PNW culture that I tend to look upon with such curiosity.

My agenda: coffee, books, and beer. Yep, just those three things. Traveling to Portland is so simple and relaxing. So here I will list my fave places that made my Portlandia weekend:

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Gems in the Sunset

It’s been real, Sunset! As I say my goodbyes to this wonderful neighborhood, allow me to pay homage to the treasures that make leaving the Sunset so bittersweet.

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My friendly neighborhood Books on the Park

One of the sweet, sweet treasures of the Sunset is Green Apple Books on the Park. It’s on 9th Ave between Lincoln and Irving. It is my favorite bookstore. Ever. (Yes, I say ever because I always seek out indie bookstores when I travel.)

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Green Apple Books on the Park was my third* indie bookstore. I started with City Lights Bookstore (because, of course, it’s a San Francisco treasure), which I went to on particularly difficult days at work. I then discovered Green Apple Books (the OG one, which I am *counting as separate because it is, physically, its own store) on Clement after I had feasted on some amazing Asian dishes in the Inner Richmond. Both bookstores always left me overwhelmed. There were so many books calling out to me simultaneously; I never knew where to start. The bookstores are physically big, too. (Green Apple Books on Clement even has an Annex for its sci-fi, fantasy, et al collections.) Come the day I entered Books on the Park, possibly after feasting on glorious Asian food (most likely San Tung) as well, and it was love first sight.

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