50 of the Best Indie Bookstores to Add to Your Travel Bucket List
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50 of the Best Indie Bookstores to Add to Your Travel Bucket List

We love weekends here at Brit HQ. And one of our all-time fave activities is spending hours at our local bookstore getting lost among the shelves. In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, we’ve rounded up 50 delightful little indie bookstores for you to browse and explore, no matter where you call home. From rustic barns to industrial, big-city stacks, the bookstores on this list are definitely worth hours of your Saturday. Get ready to make your weekend great by shopping local and snuggling up with a nice big paperback at one of these local spots.

NORTHEAST

1. The Montague Bookmill: Housed in an 1842 gristmill, this Massachusetts bookstore sells thousands of (usually) half-priced books, but leans toward the academic type. In between adding books to your library, we recommend grabbing a latte and bagel at the Lady Killigrew Cafe.

2. River Run Bookstore: This New Hampshire shop has a passionate staff eager to help you find your next read. So eager, in fact, that if you can’t visit the store in person, you can email them and get surprise recommendations mailed directly to you.

3. Atomic Books: This Baltimore bookstore is a consignment shop, underground small printing press and mini art gallery. The perfect trifecta. (Photo via Bitsie)

4. Brattle Book Shop: Established in 1825, Boston’s Brattle is one of America’s oldest and largest used book shops. It’s also, debatably, one of its most magical, with three floors of books and even an outside sale lot. (Photo via Jesse Chan-Norris)

5. Strand Books: Somehow this NYC store squeezed 18 miles of new, used and rare books into the city. Definitely a feat worth checking out if you ask us. (via NY Post)

6. Cellar Stories Bookstore: Stacked with over 70,000 volumes, this Rhode Island spot will no doubt have you walking out with something good. (Photo via The Myth of Home)

7. Harvard Book Store: Maybe it’s just us, but this shop gives off some serious Good Will Hunting vibes.

8. Mercer Street Books & Records: Here’s an unassuming Greenwich Village store that sells out-of-print, oddly interesting and flat-out-weird books you won’t find anywhere else. (Photo via Have the Heart)

9. Politics and Prose: Don’t let the name fool you — this DC space is more than politics and prose. It’s everything you’d want in a bookshop, and a latte more. (Photo via Amlit Mag)

10. Longfellow Books: If you’re ever on the peninsula, we recommend dropping by this beautifully simple bookstore in Maine. (Photo via The Indie Bob Spot)

11. Powerhouse Books: Best known for its publishing program, this Brookyln spot is worth the visit just to see the amazing interior, which also doubles as an event space. Library-themed wedding anyone? (Photo via Thompson Hotels)

12. McNally Jackson Books: If you’re in Manhattan, give this two-story shop a try. But before you get confused trying to find your favorite European author, just know they organize their books by nation.

The South

13. Baldwin’s Book Barn: New books. An old barn. This West Chester space is rustic, bohemian perfection.

14. Heirloom Bookshop: Known for their range of cookbooks, this Charleston bookstore also makes a perfect dinner event backdrop (note the table). (Photo via Sterling Events)

15. Maple Street Book Shop: This New Orleans bookstore may have been opened in 1962, but it stays uber modern with ebooks, a t-shirt shop and a tumblr. (Photo via Hello Giggles)

16. Bound to Be Read Books: Envisioned as a true community space for Atlanta, Bound to Be Read has an ever-revolving door of book club meetings, author signings and good book recommendations. (Photo via Creative Loafing Atlanta)

17. Little Shop of Stories: If you’re in the Georgia area and looking for a perfect kid-friendly destination, Little Shop of Stories has you covered and then some. Oh, and don’t forget to take a family selfie on the famous muted green couch. (Photo via Lake Trek)

18. Parnassus Books: Known as an “independent shop for independent people,” this Nashville shop is an obvious destination on Independent Bookstore Day. (Photo via Random Acts of Reading)

19. Book People: We think we know one reason this Austin-based shop has been voted the best bookstore in Texas for 15 years in a row. Yes, the selection is good, but there’s one other perk: the massage chair.

20. Books & Books: If you’re an author, or love authors, you have to visit one of Books & Books’ South Florida locations, where they do a total of 60 author events in one month. (Photo via Medium)

21. Square Books: This Mississippi space is massive and spread out among three buildings: Square Books, Square Books, Jr. and Off Square books. Pick your poison, friends. (Photo via Melville House)

22. A Capella Books: Don’t judge a book (this Atlanta store) by its cover (exterior). It’s a powerhouse that’s been standing way longer than Amazon. (Photo via Tate Street)

23. Full Circle Books: Given its the largest independent bookstore in Oklahoma, it will be hard to visit Full Circle Books without a new read. Beyond that, those ladders are Instagram heaven.

24. Duck’s Cottage: You know anything with the word “cottage” in it is going to be cozy. (Photo via Duck’s Cottage Foursquare)

25. G. J. Ford Bookshop: Known as a great community space for St. Simons Island, G.J. Ford is also a great place to snatch up a new book or a quirky greeting card. (Photo via The Bitter Southerner)

Out West

26. Elliot Bay Book Company: New books, bargain editions and the occasional author reading all go down at this cedar-shelved wonderland, located in the heart of Seattle’s hip Capitol Hill neighborhood.

27. Skylight Books: Serving the eclectic artist community in a historic Los Angeles neighborhood, Skylight Books sells the usual wide variety of books, while also covering niche topics like art, film, music and Los Angeles regional culture and history. (Photo via Timeout)

28. Powell’s: With five stores sprinkled throughout Oregon, it would be wrong for you to pass by a Powell’s without stopping in for a quick read. (Photo via Oregon Live)

29. Country Bookshelf: Help keep Montana’s largest independent bookstore rockin’ by snatching up a bestseller or a book by a local author. If you’d rather someone else take the what-to-read reins, try joining a Bozeman book club. (Photo via Morgan Weiss Blog)

30. City Lights: With international accolades and three stories brimming with slim shelves, San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore is a magical and historical must-visit for anyone dropping into the city. (Photo via Retracing Jack Kerouac)

31. Tattered Cover Book Store: If you’re especially into live author events, Denver’s Tattered Cover has an average of over 400 author, illustrator and public figures drop by every year. Of course, to fit your daily needs, there’s always an overstuffed chair and beloved used book to curl up with. (Photo via 5280 Lens Mafia)

32. The Booksmith: Another San Fran gem, this relaxed bookstore is so homey they even have bios of their staff on their website. Plus, it’s located next to lots of great shops and pubs on the uber-famous Haight Street. (Photo via Book Witch)

33. The Writer’s Block: If the name isn’t a dead giveaway, this new Las Vegas bookstore is a writer’s sanctuary. Not only are they traditional book sellers, they also manufacture and publish books and host a writer’s workshop — all surrounded by quirky artificial birds, of course. (Photo via Las Vegas Weekly)

34. The Last Bookstore: Located in Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore is California’s largest new and used book and record store. Also, from the looks of it, it seems like a pretty good place to get lost for a while.

35. Coalesce: Like the quirky mullet of bookstores, at Coalesce you can get your novels up front and recite your nuptials in the beautiful garden out back. (Photo via The Rock | Morro Bay)

36. Amber Unicorn Books: Feeling otherworldly? This Las Vegas used bookstore is known for their sci-fi and fantasy collections. (Photo via Amber Unicorn Books)

37. The King’s English Bookshop: ‘Tis a noble profession to run an independent bookstore. Also a cute one, as this little house-like shop proves. (Photo via Boys and Literacy)

38. Bookworks: It’s basically your American duty to show this place some love, as it’s one of Albuquerque’s last bookstores. (Photo via Broken Sword Publications)

39. Changing Hands: Want to know why buying a book from Arizona’s Changing Hands is so awesome? Not only can you buy a book and then grab a glass of wine at the First Draft Book Bar, but every time you buy a book it helps support local radio stations, schools, teachers and charities. Splurging has never felt so right. (Photo via American Booksellers Association)

The Heartland

40. Rainy Day Books: Instead of boasting a giant selection, Rainy Day curates their bookstore to host only the books they love most. (Photo via Kansas City Daily Photo)

41. Left Bank Books: This St. Louis shop is a smorgasbord of entertaining goodness, including greeting cards, books, toys and magazines. (Photo via Central West End)

42. The Book Loft: These 32 rooms, which once housed pre-Civil War general stores, a cinema and a saloon, now make up one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores. And it’s all tucked away in Columbus, Ohio, if you can believe that. (Photo via Ruth E Hendricks Photography)

43. Quimby’s: Forget mass production or bestsellers’ lists — Quimby’s prides themselves on selling quirky, independently published and small-press books, comics and ‘zines. (Photo via Literary Chicago)

45. The Sisters Grimm: Because this rustic shop is housed in a barn, it also closes for the winter season. Drop by this little Nebraska shop to pick up a book, art, antiques or just a cup of joe. (Photo via Wonderly)

44. John K. King Books: Proving great things still come from Detroit, John King Books is a mini-Michigan empire, boasting three stores and over one million books. (Photo via Writer’s Bloc)

45. Boneshaker Books: As the title may imply, Minneapolis’ Boneshaker specializes in radically awesome, progressive reads.

46. Women & Children First: This proud, friendly Chicago shop is known for its support and wide selection of wonderful women authors. (Photo via Ramblings by a Retired Nurse)

47. Pages and Pipes: Consisting of two stores in Appleton, Wisconsin, these unassuming storefronts give way to a treasure chest of written-word goodies.

48. Myopic Bookstore: Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, Myopic has three floors of over 80,000 used books. It’s probably easy to get lost in this shop and, quite honestly, we’d want to. (Photo via Wanderlast)

49. The Wild Rumpus: If you’ve ever wondered where the wild things are, this Minneapolis children’s bookstore is your answer. With bookstore pets like a cat, tarantula, ferret and mice hanging around, each visit means you can get some animal snuggles and pick up a new book. We call that a win!

50. Prairie Lights: Established in 1978, this Iowan bookshop has played host to the likes of E. E. Cummings and Robert Frost. If that alone doesn’t lure you in, their blueberry buttermilk muffin just might. (Photo via Morgan Weiss Blog)

What book will you be shopping for on Independent Bookstore Day? Any great indie bookstores that we missed? Let’s talk all thing literary in the comments below.