302 West Matilija Street
Photo by Lisa Corson, AFAR Media
Bart's BooksFor bibliophiles, a beautiful bookstore is akin to a church. Voices hush, smiles abound, and books are handled gently, like precious relics. An old home packed with an extensive collection of used and new titles, Bart’s Books opened in 1964, when Richard Bartinsdale’s collection became so huge that he constructed bookcases outside, so passersby could peruse the titles. Instead of a cash register, he left coffee cans on the shelves so customers could leave payment. Today, Bart’s is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the country—and the books outside are still for sale via the honor system. But the offerings extend indoors too. If you’re looking for cookbooks and culinary lore, check in the building’s kitchen. The living room features poetry. Art books are in the gallery. The rest of the place is a maze of bookshelves with corrugated tin roofing and open-air seating areas for reading at your leisure. Don’t worry about rain: The books are fairly well protected, and while a few may be lost in the rare heavy storm, most make it through perfectly fine.