If you travel often, there are certain things you look for in each city you visit. For some it might be themed bars or local cuisine or perhaps museums. For me, it’s bookstores. It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader, so of course I always try to seek out a unique bookstore everywhere I go. I love searching through each set of shelves and stacks to discover books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages, or books I never knew I needed. Whether they’re new or used, fiction or non-fiction, I’m happy as long as there are plenty to sift through. Though all these bookstores contain book selections for all types of bibliophiles, each shop has its own distinct style and flavor. Here are my favorite bookstores I’ve visited so far that are worth an entire vacation planned around them:
- Atticus Coffee, Books & Teahouse, Park City, Utah: I was lucky enough to happen upon this delightful bookshop/café when I was visiting my best friend in Salt Lake City. We drove up to Park City one afternoon to explore and wandered into Atticus. The small-ish store was chock full of charm, with half the space dedicated to books and gifts and the other half café seating. I didn’t get to purchase any books because of limited luggage space, but I wanted everything.
- The Strand Bookstore, New York, NY: The Strand is a bibliophile’s dream, boasting 18 miles of books in its selection. You could spend hours getting lost in the multiple floors of new and used books, gifts and assorted paper goods. I bought more books there than I probably should have and had to beg Mike to let me put half of them in his suitcase to transport them home. It was worth it. The Strand is located in the East Village with a bonus kiosk in Central Park.
- Battery Park Book Exchange, Asheville, NC: What is better than leisurely browsing through books? Browsing through books with a glass of champagne in hand! Battery Park is the Café/Bar/Bookstore of your dreams, where you are free to sit and read and sip or wander the store with your beverage of choice. I had two glasses of champagne while I browsed and came away with a beautiful copy of “The Sun Also Rises”. The two-story store is located in the Grove Arcade mall in Downtown Asheville.
- City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco, CA: This Beat Generation bookshop is full of history and good vibes. It is a 3-level mecca of books of all kinds, from the top floor, which is full of poetry and beat generation classics, down to the basement, where the science fiction books are housed. The staff at City Lights are super friendly and happy to offer suggestions if needed. We bought a couple of books (“Indian Journals” by Allen Ginsburg for me) and headed next door to Vesuvio Café to start reading.
- Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, Washington, D.C.: Nestled into Dupont Circle, Kramerbooks red neon sign beckons to book lovers passing by. The bookstore/restaurant has an amazing selection of books catering to all tastes and genres. I particularly enjoyed their large travel book section. The restaurant has a beautiful patio to sit and read at. That is where I enjoyed my newly purchased book (“Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain) with a delicious slice of their Apple Crumble Pie.
- Capitol Hill Books, Washington, D.C.: This gem is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (obviously), right next to The Eastern Market. This used bookstore presents itself as a treasure hunt through its haphazard shelves and stacks. Its multiple rooms on two floors are a wonderful maze of every kind of book you could want. If you can spare the time, it’s worth it to get lost in Capitol Hill Books for a few hours.
- Myopic Books, Chicago, IL: I may not have to travel far to get to Myopic books, but it is absolutely worth a visit for bibliophiles visiting Chicago. It’s located in Wicker Park, right across from Furious Spoon (ramen – yum!). Myopic has four floors of floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with used books. I personally love the basement level, which is where they keep the Stephen King novels. I have spent many rainy days searching through the frequently updated selection here, and I can confidently say that is one of my favorite bookstores.
Where is your favorite bookstore? Have you been to any on this list?