13 Bucketlist, Beautiful Bookstores in The USA You Need To See
Bookstores are a place of refuge and escapism for many of us introverts and avid readers. Me, myself, and I (Shelbs!) have been reading about 3-4 books a month for as long as I can remember! Finding that special spot in a bookstore to browse through as many books as possible… it’s a bit like an aphrodisiac.. tell me if you can relate?? As the book lover of the family, I want to share all of my bucket list, beautiful bookstores in the USA!
Why Should You Stop At Local Bookstores?
When on road trips, I always make it a point to stop somewhere local and support a local bookstore. Especially solo trips for work or to see family and friends? When you visit a local bookstore, you’re not only supporting local businesses, but also the general education of the community.
It’s a favorite place for many of your local introverts whether you know it or not! Reading is the first time many people travel and see perspectives different from what they’ve known. Not to mention how many people teach themselves new skills by reading? I believe access to reading contributes to the overall happiness of people!!
With that being said – bookstores are a dying breed. All across the country bookstores are closing as the popularity of e-readers and apps slowly takes over the world. On one hand, we love that the written word proliferates so fast across the globe and literacy rates are higher than ever! Let’s just remember to pick up a physical book now and then!
No.1 Toccoa Falls College Campus Bookstore
First on our list is the incredible campus bookstore at Toccoa Falls College in Northern Georiga. At home in a little cottage (first photo of the post), there is seemingly nothing really all that special about this bookstore at first? You’ll see general college paraphernalia, textbooks, and a smattering of novels throughout the store.
What makes Toccoa Falls College Campus bookstore so unique and special is the incredible 186-foot waterfall you can walk to the outback. Toccoa Falls is what earns this bookstore the number one spot on our beautiful bookstores in the USA bucket list.
Imagine taking a book to read here for a while? Under a canopy of leaves as the waterfall roars in the background for a little white noise?
We visited Toccoa Falls College bookstore in the spring and it was truly lovely. If you want to take full advantage of spending time here – head to Toccoa, Georgia in the spring or fall to avoid Southern heat and humidity!
California’s Most Beatiful Bookstores
As Americans, it’s easy to forget that California is bigger than many of our other states and bigger than many countries in the world!
Home to stunning beaches, fairy-tale coastlines, and fantastic year-round weather, it’s no wonder the next three bookstores on our list are in California!
No.2 Bart’s Books in Ojai, California
Tucked away in the mountains of south-central California lays the charming Spanish countryside-vibes town of Ojai, California. Just thirty minutes from the coast, you might miss the sunny little town, but it’s a must-see!
Ojai residents pride themselves on supporting local agriculture, local businesses, and being a relaxing California destination. (We ourselves would love to grab a book and read by the stunning mountainside pool at the Ojai Valley Inn!) In such a peaceful little town, one would expect to find a fantastic local bookstore would you not?
Bart’s Books does not disappoint.
Started in 1964 by Richard Bartindale, Bart’s books has grown to become the world’s largest outdoor bookstore! That along with their picturesque shop earns them a No.2 spot on our most beautiful bookstores in the USA bucket list.
Booklovers come from miles around to browse for books amongst the swaying palm trees, creeping ivy vines, and a plethora of potted plants. Once you’ve picked a book from the bright Sedona-orange bookshelves, take a moment to read in the serene courtyard. Palm trees provide shade as well as brightly colored tarps throughout to allow us, book lovers, a moment to read!
- When looking for a good place to read, consider some of the gorgeous parks nearby! Los Padres National Forest, Sespe Condor Sanctuary and Ecotopia hotsprings are all within 30 minutes from Bart’s Books.
Address: 302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023
NO.3 The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles
Renowned for its Instagram famous book tunnel, this larger-than-life bookstore comes in at number three on our bucket list beautiful bookstores in the USA list! The Last Bookstore sits at home in a converted historic bank in downtown Los Angeles. (Even in one of the busiest cities in the world – book lovers can find the scent of decaying pages we all love so much!)
Much more than just a bookstore, you can also find vinyl records and art for sale sprinkled throughout the 20,000 square-foot shop!
- The Last Bookstore also purhcases and sells secondhand books. Places like these are my favorite – and I’m glad to see they have them everywhere. I never feel bad about being a little ‘materialistic’ when I purchase 5 or 6 secondhand books!!
What I love about The Last Bookstore is that even though they keep a healthy supply of secondhand books – the shop has an opulent feeling. With shiny black wood accents in combination with rich velvet fabrics and retro couches – it’s an easy place to sink into a book and be transported somewhere else for a few hours!
- Luxurious Romantic Stays In San Diego: Andaz San Diego, La Valencia Hotel
Address: 453 South Spring Street Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013
No.4 Verbatim Books in San Diego, California
Don’t let the mint green exterior fool you, Verbatim Books is even more amazing on the inside. Earning its spot as number four on my guide to the most beautiful bookstores in the USA, Verbatim Books has an opulent Harry-Potteresque vibe that any bibliophile will truly appreciate.
- Budget Friendly Stays In San Diego: The Pearl Hotel, The Sofia Hotel
Brows away all day amongst the chandeliers, and Victorian-era chairs until you find exactly the book you’re looking for! (P.S. Those chairs may look stiff – but they’re worn in with love by many book lovers before you!)
- Where To Read Nearby: Once you get your book – don’t forget to grab your towels and sunscreen! San Diego has a few perfect beaches to enjoy a book at or take in a romantic picnic while the sun sets. Bermuda Beach and Coronado Beach are just secluded and private enough to enjoy an afternoon of reading…and maybe a glass of wine or two..?
Address: 3793 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
No.5 – Landmark Booksellers in Franklin, Tennessee
Right off of Interstate-65 heading south into Alabama, you’ll find a charming town called Franklin Tennessee. Home to an assortment of historical buildings, churches, and fantastic antique shops, Franklin Tennessee is a perfect road trip stop.
Started in 2005 by Joel and Carol Tomlin, Landmark Booksellers is the sweetest little Southern love story!
- Get our guide to all of The Best Roadtrip Stops On Interstate 65!
Landmark Booksellers sits on the town square in a beautifully prestigious colonial building. When you enter, you’ll be greeted with a sense of old-southern hospitality mingled with the scent of books we all know and love. As you browse the rich mahogany shelves, you’ll walk by old-timey globes on glossy wooden stands and polished brass telescopes that complete the vintage colonial feel of this tranquil bookstore.
If you’re looking for a spot to read, head out front and people watch on the square! Flags wave gently in the wind over shaded tables out front perfect for an afternoon of reading.
Address: 114 East Main Street, Franklin, TN 37064
No.6 RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut
If you’re looking for a place that truly values helping you get your hands on your next life-changing book – you need to stop in Madison, Connecticut. Coming in at number six on our list of the most beautiful bookstores in the USA is the historic RJ Julia Booksellers shop.
Walk through the emerald green and gold facade to enter a world where the staff truly loves to read. Recommendations are peppered throughout the store under books to guide your browsing, and you can spend hours walking through the brightly lit shop. Visitors over the years have especially loved the ‘Read Before You Watch’ section for books that have been made into movies and TV shows!
‘We enter a bookstore and there is an undeniable quality of celebration of all that is and can be possible—these are fundamental, almost spiritual needs that we all have.’Owner roxanne coady after 25 years of serving her communty
- Romantic Stays in New Haven (The Closest Big Town to Madison): The Blake Hotel, The Study At Yale
P.S. Celebrities have been known to frequent RJ Julia Booksellers for author signings over the years including Paula Dean, Steven King, and Julie Andrews. Who knows.. on your next visit you may just bump into someone you know!!
Address: 768 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443
No.7 Carmichaels in Louisville, Kentucky
As Louisville Locals, one of our favorite bookshops is Carmichael’s Bookstore. They’re a local chain that has been around for as long as I can remember. Over the years – the style of books I’ve loved has changed but no matter what, they’ve always had a book recommendation for me!
- Get our guide to 100+ Fun Things To Do in Louisville, Kentucky
One of my favorite things about Carmichaels is that they also have a children’s store two doors down with an incredible wild animals mural! This mural is what lands it on the list of the most beautiful bookstores in the USA. This area of Louisville is incredibly walkable and just blocks away from Louisville’s most beautiful green space: Cherokee Park.
- Prettiest Hotels in Louisville: The Seelbach, The Omni
Many an afternoon I could be found grabbing a new book from Charmichael’s and heading to the park. I would read for hours while I lazy played fetch with my giant dog Thunder at the dog park!!
- Louisville is also home to a disproporionately large number of restaurants with incredible patios. Get our guide here for all of the best patios to stop and grab a drink and stay to read a while!
Address: 1295 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204
No.8 Old Florida Book shop In Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The perfect rainy day beach activity? Browse through the enchanting Old Florida Book Shop. Just minutes away from the best beaches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida lays this old-world book-lovers dream. We’ve added this shop to the list of the most beautiful bookstores in the USA not only for the bookstore itself but also for the beaches close by!
- Prettiest Hotels in Fort Lauderdale: The Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club, The Atlantic Hotel
When you walk into the Old Florida Book Shop, you’re greeted with towering walls of books. A ladder straight out of the 1800s is available for you to climb up and scale the walls in search of your next read! Mixed in with the books you’ll find paintings, stained glass lamps, and antique glass decanters adding a touch of daydream inspiration.
- What Kinds of Books Does the Old Florida Book Shop Sell? Whether you’re looking for a $15 read for the beach or a priceless first edition, the Old Florida Book Shop sells a little bit of everything!
After you’ve selected a book, grab a beach towel and get comfortable on one of Fort Lauderdale’s closest beaches. Lauderdale by The Sea, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, and Fort Lauderdale Beach are all within twenty minutes, making it an easy day trip!
Address: 3426 Griffin Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
No.9 The Bookmill In Montague, Massachusetts
Tucked away in the tiny own of Montague Massachusetts sits The Bookmill! This bookshop earns its rightful place on our list of beautiful bookstores in the USA for so many reasons!!!
First things first, everything about The Bookmill is eco-friendly. Housed in a converted gristmill from 1842, this book shop sells used books, vinyl, CDs, and art!
Secondly, everything about The Bookmill is like an adult version of the treehouse we all wanted as kids! Painted bright red, the bookshop is part of a group of stores including a cafe, an artists gallery, and a gourmet restaurant! With a large deck overlooking the Sawmill River, there are so many places to grab a book and read.
Inside you’ll find the old refurbished wood floors with tons of natural light coming in the oversized windows. String lights throughout the building add to the charming and casual atmosphere that invites book lovers from all over!
You could spend an entire day exploring this historic shop and we highly encourage it! P.S. Because of its serene setting – The Bookmill is also one of the most famous bookstores in the USA!
Address: 440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351
No.10 Book culture in NYC, New York
Browse amongst the art in these industrial modern shops along the streets of the city that never sleeps! Book Culture in New York City is truly an escape from the hustle and bustle. There are a few different locations around New York City, but the one we’re adding to our bucket list of beautiful bookstores in the USA guide is the Long Island location.
- Where To Stay Nearby: Fitzpatrick Grand Central, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Manhatten
With an unassuming exterior in a typical grey New York City style building, visitors walk into a bright two-story room lined with books. Black industrial beams contrast with art lining the walls before leading you down to the basement level where even more books await!
Address: 26-09 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101
No.11 Off The Beaten Path in Steamboat, Colorado
In the Yampa Valley lays the famous ski resort Steamboat. With a town rising up around the ski resort and the mountains calling in the background – what could be more epic than sipping hot cocoa while you read a book around the fire?
Off The Beaten Path Bookstore & Cafe sits on the main tourist strip: Lincoln Avenue. Visitors walk up and down after they’re tired of skiing and many forget to venture into this spectacular bookstore!
- Romantic Stays in Steamboat: The Steamboat Grand, Sheraton Steamboat Resort
Reflecting the vibrant mountain scenery around them, Off The Beaten Path has created a whimsical cabin vibe with giant leaves hanging from the ceiling, warm wood tones in contrast with black iron accents.
This fun bookshop has been serving its community for over twenty years! The shop also stocks art supplies, board games, and a full cafe with wine!! (Wine, while I browse for books, sounds like my kind of place ya know?!)
Address: 68 9th St, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
P.S. Are you traveling through Colorado in February? Get our guide to Best Places to Travel in February: USA & Beyond
No.12 Faulkner House Books in New Orleans, Louisiana
Another one of the most famous bookstores in the USA is Faulkner House Books in New Orleans. Surviving devastating hurricanes and years of wear and tear – this antique bookshop has withstood the test of time.
Interestingly enough – Faulkner House Books offers a personalized subscription service for readers of all kinds. From monthly subscriptions all the way up to a year – your number of books a month ranges from 3 to 5. After you fill out a short questionnaire, the owners handpick books tailored to your interests. I’ve never heard of a bookstore doing this before!
- Romantic Hotels in New Orleans: Royal Sonesta Hotel, Hotel Monteleone, The Pontchartrain Hotel
Beyond their unique subscription service – what lands the Faulkner House Books shop on our list of famously pretty bookstores in the USA is the traditional New Orleans style building. Down a street called Pirate’s Alley – we find the brightly painted doors, french style iron balconies with ferns dripping over the edge.
Something about this place makes me feel like I’m going to walk in and see people in garb from the 1800s at the height of classy style. Men in breeches and shiny leather shoes, with women carrying parasols. It’s a perfect place to let your imagination roam wild!
Address: 624 Pirates Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116
No.13 Sidekicks Books & Wine Bar in Rock Springs, Wyoming
Last but not least is this unique wine and bookshop in Rock Springs, Wyoming. If you’re an introvert – I can almost think of no better way to introvert (the verb) with other introverts than to be allowed to casually ignore the people you’re with while you hang out!!
Since there aren’t many big privately-owned bookstores in the Midwest – we had to include this pretty wine bar on our guide to the most beautiful bookstores in the USA!
Not to mention that Sidekicks Books & Wine Bar is just about the only thing to do in Rock Springs, Wyoming? So if you’re on a road trip to Jackson’s Hole – this is what you’ll need to do while you’re driving through town!!
Address: 507 Broadway St, Rock Springs, WY 82901
Looking for more travel inspiration? We’re based in Kentucky so we travel all through Southern USA. Get our guides to Brasstown Bald in Georgia, 12 Epic Summer Hikes in Kentucky, and more!
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If you can’t tell – bookstores always make me happy.
The smell of musty pages and slightly dusty shelves always welcomes us introverts in. After perusing the shelves, we open a book and relish in that first crackle of pages. Then the spine of that new book finds itself giving way and it’s enchanting to slide to the floor whilst sitting crisis cross apple sauce and diving headfirst into another world.
If you’re ready to grab a coffee or a cocktail, a new book, and read somewhere spectacular – save this post for later!!
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Until next time friends,
I love bookstores, their charm and all of the knowledge packed into one small space. Bookstores are the types of places you can get lost in, have you ever been to Shakespeare and Company in Paris? You would likely love it. Do you have a favourite bookstore? Have you thought about recommending one in every state?
Evan and ShelbyKathryn Dickson
I hadn’t thought about recommending one in every state! I think my favorite is actually one I grew up with on a military base for sentimental reasons but I would love to reccommend them everywhere!!
I would never have guessed that bookstores and waterfalls go together, but that is so, sooo cool! Two of my favorite things to visit at Toccoa Falls. All these other bookstores look fabulous too though, it’s just you blew me away with the first one, so they don’t quite compete.
p.s. I have a feeling you would LOVE some of the older bookstores around the UK.
Visiting bookstores is one of my favorite things! There is something so calming about them. I’ve added all of these to my list to visit. Faulkner House in New Orleans seems especially lovely!
I’ve been to the last bookstore in LA and it’s worth the visit. I hope to check out some of the other unique bookstores you mentioned.
LOVE this! I travel for bookstores and libraries so this is perfect. I also highly recommend checking out City Light Booksellers in San Fran!