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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Vacation in a California Bookstore to Find Extra Fun. Children’s booksellers in California offer engaging ways for families to spend time together. Books matter and as any book loving parent or grandparent knows sharing time in a bookshop can make a common vacation day absolutely terrific.Lonely Planet Book Discovery for Kids.
Vacation habits help mold a family culture and making books part of that family vacation culture can be both fun, easy, and rewarding. Pair a book with the beach; add a book to an urban adventure; select a book as a souvenir; share story time; save a book for naptime; buy two books and share. 

Here’s the scoop. California bookshops provide booklovers and little bookworms calming spaces with the opportunity to share quality one-on-one time, a chance to browse books together and learn more about one another. The best booksellers offer curated selections, useful suggestions, attentive but not suffocating service, and most importantly book people. Not every bookseller in California is committed to children’s literature but we know of several that exceed expectations making them a worth addition to a family vacation. View our list of the best children’s bookstores in California. 

Hicklebee's Bookstore in San Jose, California Hicklebee’s Bookstore in San Jose, California. My cousin lives in San Jose so I had the opportunity to discover the city and add a most awesome bookstore to my list of favorites. Hicklebee’s is a reason to go to San Jose. The shop is energizing. Staff members need only a slight nudge to talk children’s books. If you are hoping to nurture a bookworm this is the place for food. If your child or grandchild has is a picky reader, they have a cure. And they also have good reads for parents and grandparents. Bonus points: Throughout the store you will find hundreds of enchanting book artifacts – Merlin from T.A. Baron, an original Lilly from Kevin Henkes, and the cupboard from Indian in the Cupboard. Wait for it! In the store there is a shelf dubbed “Worth the Candle” where you will find truly wonderful vintage books for children - those no longer on the popular list but absolutely worth reading and sharing.  (1378 Lincoln Ave San Jose, CA 95125. (408) 292-8880 or

Green Apple Bookstore, San Francisco, CAGreen Apple Book in San Francisco, California.  I rediscovered this bookstore (I was there in 1980 when it was just as quirky but much smaller) about two years ago while looking for unique shops in the Bay Area. It is an old sweatshirt, comfy shoes kind of place where the rich aroma of good books is intoxicating and book notes highlight possibilities for sharing great literary adventures. It is independently excellent no easy feat in today’s world, so is not surprising to me that Green Apple continually receives awards for being the best. The store’s interior atmosphere hasn’t changed much; the stairs  creak and the shelves hold a charming mix of new and gently used books some for children and some for adults and some to be shared by both. Most importantly it is a comfy place to share with your child. The reading nooks on the second floor provide space for an escape with a book. Bonus points: Stop by with your kids to see the hundreds of masks from all over the world. Wait for it! I feel like I must mention Green Apple is near Toy Boat a spot with awesome blueberry pie and a collection of toys from the 70/80s. (506 Clement St. San Francisco, California 94118. (415) 387-2272 or

Books and Cookies in Santa Monica, California. I discovered this location while meandering around Santa Monica looking for quirky, quaint shops.  This lively book space operates not just as a children’s bookstore with a wide selection of the best and most popular reads and interactive learning stations but also has a clever café for kids and their adult companions - save room for the cookies. Bonus points: The event space hosts daily classes with many activities for families to share. (2230 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 362-3103 or Explorer's Adventure Guide

Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California. I have not visited this store but I am including it because they offer plenty of choices for little bookworms. It is a place where the whole family can get a book fix. Founded on Nov. 14, 1894, Vroman’s Bookstore is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. Although not a specifically a children’s bookstore, I am including it because Vroman’s carries more than 85,000 titles on all subjects and maintains an extensive children’s book section on its second floor. (695 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA 91101. (626) 449-5320 or

Once Upon A Time Bookstore in Montrose, California. At the insistence of a colleague I am mentioning this location. The bookshop opened its doors in 1966. It is now a highly regarded neighborhood indie bookstore with a terrific selection of quality children’s literature spanning the gamut from picture books for toddlers to young adult titles. (2207 Honolulu Avenue Montrose, CA 91020.  (818) 248-9668 or

Planning a family trip? View FTF list of the best independent book stops in the US. 

Because independent bookstores span the country surviving in spite of Amazon, checkout the indie master bookstore list and add one to your family vacation.  If it is a terrific find please Tell MOM.

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy Hicklebee’s Bookstore and Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2018. 

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