Without starting a coastal civil war, the West Coast is by far the best coast for bookstores. Laid back and socially conscious, these temples of knowledge are the perfect places to browse for reading material during your next vacation. So take a stroll through these bookstore aisles and stop to smell the sweet literature.
The Elliot Bay Book Company – Seattle, Washington
Seattle has some of the best coffee in the country as well as some of the worst rain. Put these two things together and you have the ideal situation for ducking into a cozy bookstore and browsing for a book for your West Coast trip. The commander-in-chief of the Seattle scene is the Elliot Bay Book Company. This book selling pioneer recently moved to the hipster neighborhood of Capital Hill and occupies an incredible new space with artistically arranged books. With weekly readings and cedar wood shelves, this is the perfect place to hang out in your best Gortex rain jacket, soy milk latte in hand.
Powell’s Books – Portland, Oregon
Books, books and more books! Known for it’s giant selection of gently used (and therefore more affordable) books, the odds are that you will likely leave Powell’s Books with an armful of books about Rick Steve’s European adventures or the complete Lonely Planet series. The flagship store carries over one million titles and is a bargain hunter’s dream. While the interior of the building is not exactly inspiring, the literary selection is worth the visit. This will be the best place to snag your copy of the new Portlandia guidebook when it comes out in November 2012. Cannot wait.
City Lights – San Francisco, California
Located in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco, City Lights is a small, unassuming storefront where the cream of the Beatnik crop used to gather and be cool. And when I say cool, I mean write amazingly creative works that shattered the dominant assumptions of their generation. Today this San Francisco bookstore deserves a special kudos for keeping the anti-establishment vibe alive. An independent publisher with an impressive stock of politically progressive and worldly literature, this is a damn good bookstore. The cherry on top? Upstairs there is a complete collection of works by all of the Beatnik generation poets. Cool man, cool.