City Lights Book Store
As much a hallmark of North Beach cool as Café Trieste and Vesuvio’s, City Lights is perhaps the only one of San Francisco book shops that could fire up the most reluctant reader with book lust. Three floors of hand-selected books cover all the greats of world literature. Up the creaky, antique stairs is an entire room of poetry, befitting a bookstore that was born of and helped launch America’s Beat Generation, including Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Rexroth, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who still runs City Lights Publishers out of the same location. Established in 1953, this is one of the great independent bookstores in the country, where the walls hum with history and a passion for the printed word.