My Favorite Thing To Find In A New City – Local Bookstores

Get to know a new city by exploring and supporting their local businesses. My favorite spots to find are local bookstores. A few of my favorites so far. On the blog, I write a lot about food, wine, exploring, nature and other activities. One thing I don’t write much about, but has always been a huge part of my life is books. I’ve loved to read since I was a little kid, and other than a short period in school rejecting my teachers telling me what to read, I always have a book in the works. While I have switched significantly to reading on my kindle, I still absolutely love having a real book in my hand and digging through bookstores trying to find something new.

I can easily spend an hour wandering into a little bookstore you pass by on your travels. I love reading the different staff recommendations and books that different local bookstores highlight. It is the perfect way to find something new you’ve never seen before, or finally break down and buy that one you’ve been meaning to read. I also love being able to support these local businesses. While I buy a lot of books from Amazon for my kindle, almost all the actual books I buy from local stores on my travel. Which makes a great souvenir. And even though I always have a big stack of books to read, supporting a local store is a perfect excuse why you have to buy another book.

Laurel Bookstore Oakland, CA Right in downtown Oakland, this shop had those frank reviews posted all around the store that I love. I have so much fun when the staff reviews aren't just in one section but instead scattered around the store.There is also something magically about wandering around a new town, stumbling across a little bookstore you weren’t looking for and opening up a whole new world. You often can get a little more of a feel for the community in these places. I know I should search them out more often, but somehow I’ve found a good chunk of ones I love by just stumbling by. Many of these I now follow on social media and email lists, keeping the great recommendations going.

A few of my favorites I’ve found along the way

Pages: A Bookstore

Manhattan Beach, CA

An adorable little spot a couple blocks off the main drag in Manhattan Beach. I had to fight with myself to only buy one book, and they were all things I’d never heard of before. Their staff recommendations are some of the best I’ve seen. It is a small shop, but their stock had both things you’d walk in looking for and new finds.

Local Bookstore OaklandLaurel Bookstore

Oakland, CA

Right in downtown Oakland, this shop had those frank reviews posted all around the store that I love. I have so much fun when the staff reviews aren’t just in one section but instead scattered around the store.

Vroman’s Bookstore

Pasadena, CA

A larger spot with so many sections to dig through. Right next to an independent movie theater in Pasadena. I added a dozen books to read as I walked through this shop. An extensive section of narrative travel books, something I don’t find often. They have a wide variety of events as well. Another perk to local bookstores.

Sundance Books & Music

Get to know a new city by exploring and supporting their local businesses. My favorite spots to find are local bookstores. A few of my favorites so far. Reno, NV

We walked by this old victorian and did a double take when we realized it was a bookstore. It was so much fun to wander from room to room, even the kitchen, looking at a wide variety of books. They had a large selection of used and new, as well as some quirky knickknacks that would make it a perfect place for gift shopping.

Books, Inc. 

San Francisco, CA

Everything you look for from a local bookstore, plus a great selection of books about, based in and relating to San Francisco. I love reading books about places I’ve been, making you feel even more a part of the story. They have locations around San Francisco, but I enjoy the spot in the Marina, plus such good restaurants to sit down and read in afterward.

The Mecca of Booklovers: Powell’s Books

Portland, OR

If you’re talking about bookshops on the West Coast you cannot skip Powell’s. You can spend your entire day walking around the shelves. It is more comparable to a University library than a bookstore. I loved being able to pop into a section and find books for every type of interest I’ve ever had. From the books I studied in college to the young adult fiction I still love reading. Another spot where my list of books to read grew exponentially. And while I greatly enjoyed Portland on a whole, the city is worth a visit on Powell’s alone.

Supporting Local Stores As You Travel

Get to know a new city by exploring and supporting their local businesses. My favorite spots to find are local bookstores. A few of my favorites so far. Both at home and away I like to work to support local business and the community around me. Bookstores are a perfect way for me to do this since books are something I am always buying. Even if you aren’t a big reader I would suggest thinking about what type of stores you enjoy, what things are you always buying, and find those local stores to support and explore on your travels.

Do you have any favorite local bookstore or other local types of stores  you’ve found across your travels and loved?

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.