bradley blog

On the West Coast, summer is the best time of the year. There is so much to explore and it can be easy to get overwhelmed when deciding what hot spots to visit in a new town or city. Personally, I love going to independent bookstores on my road trips. In the same way that Powell’s is an essential Portland experience, a hometown bookstore can help you feel like a local in a new place. As you travel up and down Highway 1 or 101 this summer, here are some bookstores you won’t want to miss:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Driving Distance = About Three Hours North of Portland

Seattle has so many amazing independent bookstores to visit that I couldn’t pick just one. My favorites are The Elliot Bay Book Company, Lamplight Books, and Queen Anne Book Company.

  • Gold Beach, Oregon
  • Driving Distance = About Five and-a-half Hours South of Portland

In my very biased opinion, the Oregon Coast has some of the most beautiful beaches and scenic overlooks in America. If a coastal road trip is not yet on your summer to-do list, it needs to be. If you venture all the way south to the California border, you’ll reach the town of Gold Beach, Oregon. Gold Beach Books & Art Gallery is an art gallery, a coffee shop, and a bookstore with a wide selection of new, used, and rare books.

  • San Francisco, California
  • Driving Distance = About Ten Hours Away from Portland
  • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco is, as you’ve probably gathered, both a bookstore and a publishing house. On their website, City Lights explains, “The press is known and respected for its commitment to innovative and progressive ideas, and its resistance to forces of conservatism and censorship.” Pick up a new book and head to the Presidio of San Francisco, a beautiful park where you can read and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Santa Cruz, California
  • Driving Distance = About Eleven Hours Away from Portland

About one-and-a-half hours south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is a charming surfing city that you won’t want to miss. After a day of riding the roller coasters on the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and enjoying ice cream from Marianne’s, it will be time to curl up on the beach with a good book. Bookshop Santa Cruz is in the middle of downtown and the perfect place to pick up a beach read.

  • Santa Barbara, California
  • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours

Santa Barbara is beautiful and one of my favorite places in the world. Chaucer’s Bookstore is located on State Street in the middle of the lovely downtown area. Pick up a good book then stop by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams for the best ice cream in the world.

  • Los Angeles, California
  • (Direct) Flight Time = About Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes

Aptly named, The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles will be the last stop on our West Coast bookstore tour. The Last Bookstore feels just as cavernous as Powell’s Books and will be the perfect place for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of LA. According to their website, The Last Bookstore is “California’s largest used and new book and record store,” so it will be the perfect place to end your summer road trip.


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