Best Travel Bookshops in the U.S.

Apr 4, 2015

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Even though e-readers and tablets are becoming increasingly common, brick-and-mortar bookstores (and paper-page books, for that matter) aren’t quite yet a thing of the past. Excellent independent bookstores are not only still open for business in cities and communities throughout the country, some even specialize—and thrive—in the travel niche. TPG Contributor Jessica Spiegel shares some of the best travel-focused bookstores in America that serve the literary wanderlust inside each and every one of us.

Courtesy of Wide World Books & Maps
Courtesy of Wide World Books & Maps

Wide World Books & Maps—Seattle, Washington

Founded in 1976, this Seattle standby claims it’s the oldest travel-only bookstore in the United States. The shop stocks travel guides, travel literature, phrasebooks, a great selection of maps, as well as a variety of travel gear—from luggage to sleep sacks to electricity converters. The store also hosts in-store events like readings and informal meetups for travelers.

Courtesy of Traveler's Bookcase
Courtesy of Traveler’s Bookcase

Traveler’s Bookcase—Los Angeles, California

Open since 1991, and it’s a haven for travel junkies. The current owner (who has been to more than 75 countries on her own, and runs literary salons on the side) has had the shop since 2007, and makes a point of hiring well-traveled staff so that your questions can always be answered by a knowledgeable someone. The focus of the store is on travel books—both guidebooks and travel literature—but it also has some travel gear such as neck pillows and passport covers.

Courtesy of Idlewild Books
Courtesy of Idlewild Books

Idlewild Books—New York City

These two New York bookstores—one in Manhattan (opened in 2008) and the other in Brooklyn (opened in 2012)—are centers for a whole world’s worth of travel books. They not only carry travel guidebooks and travel literature, they also have sections for books in French, Spanish, and Italian. Both stores also offer ongoing, regular language classes in (depending on the store) French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and German.

Courtesy of Powell's Books
Courtesy of Powell’s Books

Powell’s Books—Portland, Oregon

This massive, beloved city landmark is a Portland institution, and while it’s far from strictly a travel bookstore it does have an impressive travel section. Powell’s flagship store has a whopping 68,000 square feet of space spread over four floors. The Red Room is home to a vast selection of travel guidebooks and travel literature—both new and used—as well as maps, and a small section of travel accessories. A few rows away, you’ll also find a large section dedicated to languages, with language learning books and books in each language.

Courtesy of Brookline Booksmith
Courtesy of Brookline Booksmith

Brookline Booksmith—Brookline, Massachusetts

The Globe Corner Bookstore in Cambridge was a pillar of the travel bookstore world from 1982 until it closed its doors in 2011. The inventory, however, was purchased by Booksmith in Brookline (outside Boston), which now operates a section of its store called the Globe Corner Annex. The Annex is inside the Booksmith store, and stocks the same types of things the old Globe Corner store did—travel guidebooks, travel literature, maps, and travel accessories.

Courtesy of Distant Lands
Courtesy of Distant Lands

Distant Lands—Pasadena, California

Distant Lands opened in 1989 as a bookstore dedicated solely to travel. Since then, the store has quadrupled its inventory and now stocks travel books, games and maps, as well as travel gear, luggage, clothing and accessories. They even have an ebook store selling titles for use on Kobo eReaders. Regular events are held at the store, including readings and informational travel-advice sessions.

Courtesy of Changes in Latitude
Courtesy of Changes in Latitude

Changes in Latitude—Boulder, Colorado

Opened in 1993 after the founder returned from a 15-month round-the-world trip, all of the people on staff at Changes in Latitude are passionate travelers and able/willing to steer you in a helpful direction. Both a travel-gear/-clothing shop and a bookstore, the shelves here are stocked with a surprisingly wide selection of travel guidebooks. The store also runs a weekly series of travel events on Tuesdays, offering packing clinics, travel slideshows and more.

Editor’s Note: While most major credit cards don’t specify travel books among their categorized travel spending, a travel book purchase could very well inspire a great adventure—and an excellent excuse to redeem your hard-earned points and miles!

Have you been to any of these bookstores—or have any other favorites to share? 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.