Travel Tips

Best Bookstores of the Pacific West Coast

Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR

I’m starting with Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, because it’s really the only shop outside of California I’m going to talk about in this “Best Bookstores of the Pacific West Coast” article. It had to be done, though. The City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the entire world. It takes up three floors and an entire block in Portland’s Pearl District. It is so big that it has nine color-coded rooms, over 3,500 sections, and more than 1 million books.  The massive store boasts out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. There is a one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room with first editions and collectibles that draw bibliophiles from all over the world. There is also a café where you can get delicious handcrafted baked goods and coffee drinks.

Location: 1005 w. burnside st. / Portland, or 97209

Contact: 800-878-7323

Coalesce Bookstore and Garden Wedding Chapel

The Coalesce Bookstore is a small boutique shop in Morro Bay, California that carries mostly used, but some new books, as well as unique stationary, journals, and trinkets. The store was opened in 1973 Janet Brown and Linna Thomas. The founding philosophy of the store is inherent in its name. The word "coalesce" means to grow together, to unite.  "That joining has always been the aim of the bookstore,” says Linna. "We wanted everyone to feel comfortable at Coalesce, to find something of value." Behind this quaint and lovely shop are the gardens and a nondenominational wedding chapel. They have hosted hundreds of weddings and have had book signings and other events in there as well.

Location:  845 Main Street / Morro Bay, CA. 93442  

Email: coalescebookstore@gmail.com

Contact: (805) 772-2880

The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store. It began as a loft downtown in 2005 and has since expanded into a 22,000 sq. ft two-story space you have to see to believe. The store buys, sells and trades books and records. They boast over 250,000 new and used books (including rare and out of print books), graphic novels, tens of thousands of records as well as a massive mezzanine level with shops and the famed Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore.

Bart’s Books

Bart's Books is a mostly outdoor bookstore in Ojai, California run by a few middle-aged rocker dudes. It is also one of the only bookstores in California that allow pets. There is an outdoor bookshelf where you can purchase the books during business hours, or drop a coin in the box when you want to buy a book when the store is closed. There is a small covered food court where you can snack and sip on your outside food and drinks while you peruse potential purchases or start a book you just bought.

Location: 302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023

Contact: (805) 646-3755

The Book Loft

The Book Loft is an adorable little shop in the Danish town of Solvang, California. There is a nice selection of local authors and little corners, nooks, and crannies to explore. Downstairs you’ll find the Hans Christian Andersen Museum and the Solvang Coffee Company. The Book Loft is a small but quaint store. Even if you don’t find anything you like, just spending time inside is a delight—especially during sunset when the light scatters through the windows in the most magical way.

Location: 1680 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463

Contact: (805) 688-6010

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