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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
13. Baldwin’s Book Barn: New books. An old barn. This West Chester space is rustic, bohemian perfection.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
45. Boneshaker Books: As the title may imply, Minneapolis’ Boneshaker specializes in radically awesome, progressive reads.
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.