The Bookworm’s Guide to Seeing San Francisco

For over 100 years, San Francisco has been the home of a stunning number of prominent authors, poets, and literary figures, giving rise to its nickname “The Literary City.” Bookworms of all kinds will find an impressive number of places to explore and a variety of San Francisco accommodations close to many popular landmarks. Here is a sample of some of the great places for you to discover.

San Francisco

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City Lights Booksellers

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded this famous historic landmark located in North Beach in 1953. City Lights was a hugely popular gathering spot for generations of Beat writers including Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. Today, the bookstore is a great place to find new and used books in a variety of genres. After browsing, head outside to the colorful Jack Kerouac Alley for more literary exploration.

beat musuem

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The Beat Museum

Around the corner from the City Lights Bookstore is The Beat Museum. Since 2003, the museum has housed a large collection of memorabilia, manuscripts, photos, personal items, and first edition copies of books by many Beat poets and authors, most notably Jack Kerouac. The museum’s historical elements highlight the authors’ lasting impact on American culture.

San Francisco

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Robert Louis Stevenson Monument

In Chinatown, you will find Portsmouth Square which features a large stone monument in Robert Louis Stevenson’s honor. Best known for “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Stevenson spent many hours writing in this popular park from 1879 to 1880. 

wolf house

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Jack London Homes

Known for his works “The Call of the Wild” and “The Sea Wolf,” Jack London was born in San Francisco. His original birthplace is located at 615 Third Street (now numbered 601) and a nearby alley is named in his honor. You can also visit the home he shared with his wife, Bessie, at 575 Blair Street in Oakland in 1901 where he wrote his famous novels.

At the time of his death in 1916, London lived at the “Beauty Ranch” at 2400 London Ranch Road, which is now the Jack London State Historic Park. The main house burned down in 1913, but a smaller cottage can still be found there.


Image via Flickr by Sean Davis

Dashiell Hammett Locations

From 1926-1929, Dashiell Hammett lived at 891 Post Street where he wrote “Red Harvest,” “The Dain Curse,” and “The Maltese Falcon.” The apartment was recently restored and is open to visitors. He also frequented the Hotel Union Square and John’s Grill located at 63 Ellis Street. It was this restaurant where The Maltese Falcon‘s Sam Spade ordered a meal of pork chops, baked potato, and sliced tomatoes, and it is still on the menu to be ordered by patrons. Memorabilia from the Humphrey Bogart film adorn the walls in the upstairs Maltese Falcon Room.

All over San Francisco, you will find many incredible places to explore to satisfy your bookworm soul.


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