Learn about the Beats at City Lights Bookstore in North Beach
A beacon for beatnik culture, City Lights bookstore in San Francisco is best known for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, and as the site of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s obscenity trial in the 1950s.
Opened in 1953 by Ferlinghetti, the independent bookstore and publisher has stood in the same spot in North Beach since its inception, and has attracted millions of visitors looking to learn more about the beat generation—not to mention those just looking for a good book.
Stop by City Lights and peruse the extensive collection of new and used materials, and feel free to linger for hours. Read in the upstairs room and enjoy the comfy chairs and views over the neighborhood.
Still feeling beatnik-y? Head to the Beat Museum after your stop at City Lights.
City Lights is open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight.
At the heart of the Beatnik movement, City Lights is a can't-miss bookstore for lovers of books, culture, and hidden spaces. Spread over three levels, this isn't your average seller of books—it specializes in make-you-think kinds of fiction and non-fiction.
You might have a quick browse before taking your photo out front, because this place is famous, after all. Or you might wind your way up to the top floor, the Poetry Room, and pull up a rocking chair, set yourself down with a volume of something awesome (I recommend Jane Hirshfield) and feel the history around you.
City Lights is an absolute gem, even in a city with San Francisco's strong pedigree of independent bookstores. Home to the Beat literature movement, it still boasts an incredible collection of poetry and literature in translation that goes way beyond the average bookstore. A wonderful place to spend hours lost in the pages of a new find.