Exploring the City’s Bookstores and Historic Literary Landmarks

San Francisco is also home to world-class bookstores and literary landmarks. Taking a literary tour is another unique way of exploring the city. Whether you are a book lover, a writer, or a literary fan there’s always something special for you in this city’s iconic book shops. Let’s take a tour of some of these literary hubs. 

City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

City Lights Bookstore is 30 minutes away from San Francisco airport. Take your National Car Rental to 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco. If you’re looking for books about progressive politics, visit this area. In addition, they also created City Lights Foundation which publishes books to promote San Francisco’s rich culture. The place has a special corner for poetry lovers. In the Poetry Room, you’ll get to see some world-class collections of poems. The place was built in 1953 and has been a favored place for literary lovers from all walks of life.  

Jack Kerouac Alley 

Depending on your route, this place is about 15-20 miles away from the airport. Within 30 minutes of driving, you’ll reach this place. If you are familiar with the Beat Generation, you’ll recognize that the place was named after a famous Beat writer. The alley is a collection of colorful murals representing the Beat Generation. This is an ideal spot for your IG photos and selfies. In addition, there are walkways decorated with words from famous writers. This is a one-way alley that connects Grant, Chinatown, and Columbus Avenue, North Beach. 

The Beat Museum 

This is also 30 minutes away from the airport. If you’re traveling by group, your SFO rental cars and head to 540 Broadway, San Francisco. After visiting the City Lights Bookshop, take a short walk going to the Beat Museum. This place is designed to showcase the arts, culture, and people of the Beat Generation. This is where you can see different kinds of Beat memorabilia. The place was created in 2003 and has been operating independently to represent Beat’s legacy. You can also find some rare books and original manuscripts displayed inside the museum. 

The Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room 

This place is 20 minutes from the airport. If you are a lover of the game chess, take your rented car to this place. There’s a special room for chess players across all levels to play. If you are into literature at the same time,  an avid chess lover this is your haven. You can enjoy yourself browsing through the rich collection of books. Afterward, have some challenging games of chess. 

The San Francisco Public Library

In less than 30 minutes from the airport, you’ll reach the San Francisco Public Library. If it’s your first time visiting this place, marvel at the building’s architectural design. Head over to the 6th floor, this is where you’ll see some of the unique collections such as the Sherlock Holmes Collection and the Robert Frost Collection. In addition, there is a special place for LGBTQIA materials. The James Hormel LGBTQIA Center holds California’s rich collection of LGBTQIA readings. 

Vesuvio Cafe

This spot is 20 miles away from the airport and about 30 minutes drive away. What makes this cafe unique is its rich history. It has been a favorite spot of famous writers and literary icons. Make your way to this spot and immerse in the ambiance. While enjoying your drink, think of those famous icons who once visited the area sitting next to you. Imagine how your conversation would be like having those literary lovers around you. 

The Booksmith 

The Booksmith is another 30-minute trip from the airport. This place is a favorite spot for book reading, book signing and just engaging with fellow book lovers. It is a quaint and independently run literary hub located at 1727 Haight St. They hold some great collections of fiction and creative nonfiction books.

Green Apple Books 

This bookstore is located at 506 Clement Street which is 25 minutes drive from San Francisco airport. This shop has a long history since its inception in 1967. It holds a vast collection of books across different genres such as classics, children’s books, romance, fiction, and nonfiction. It’s an indie type of bookstore and also an excellent reading venue.  

The Beat Generation Walking Tour 

If you wish to fully immerse yourself in the history of the Beat Generation, do not miss the walking tour. It will provide you with a deeper understanding of the lives of the Beat icons such as Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. According to some articles, it was Allen who led the Beat Generation. This is a group of writers who denounce any form of literary formalism during the 50s. 

San Francisco is home to other famous literary landmarks worth visiting. But there are just too many books but too little time. Try to visit some of the places above, purchase a book or two, and finish reading them. Continue your literary tour, enjoying one book at a time. 

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