Find your little bibliophile a great new read they won’t be able to put down. Nothing compares to the magic of browsing rows of bookshelves and cracking open the spine of a book so the story inside can spring to life in a young reader’s imagination. San Diego is home to some very cool bookstores with equally inviting kid’s sections where you’ll find everything from comics and sci-fi to storytime with beloved children’s book authors and Where’s Waldo scavenger hunts. Read on for 8 local shops to dog-ear for your next adventure with your little bookworm!
The only bookstore in San Diego that’s dedicated entirely to children. It was founded by a mother of three who wanted kids to have the most magical experience with books. Kids can work on story-related craft projects while their parents read aloud or browse. Storytimes come to life here with related props, crafts and sing-a-longs. Check out their fun birthday party celebrations with fantastic literary experiences. They even have recommended award-winning book lists for different ages.
NEARBY: Walk a few shops over to the cute little coffee booth at Kini Koffee or grab breakfast or lunch on the patio at Pacifica Breeze Café; both have stunning ocean views. Plan ahead to drive a few minutes over to Powerhouse playground for a play session just steps away from the beach with stunning ocean views; and the train runs by every so often.
1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar
Central Library Shop
This downtown shop is located on the ground floor of the San Diego Central Library and is a partner of the Public Library Foundation. That means proceeds from the well-curated Library Shop purchases benefit the San Diego Public Library system — an extra bonus in our "book." If that's not enough to love, the shop hosts awesome literacy-themed gatherings for kids like a Where's Waldo scavenger hunt, card-making workshops for Mother's Day and Father's Day, visits from famous authors of children's books and storytime events. A visit to this shop is sure to be an epic day for readers of all ages.
NEARBY: Across the street is Hob Coffee East Village or further down is the ultra-trendy Holy Matcha or walk-up coffee bar at Achilles Coffee.
Central Library Shop
300 Park Blvd., Downtown
Considered San Diego's largest general independent bookstore, Bay Books has been catering to local (and visiting) bookworms for more than 20 years. Boasting an extensive children's section, with books for those tackling their ABCs as well as good reads for more accomplished readers, the shop is roomy enough for families to sit together and read while still offering plenty of cozy nooks for those who prefer some quiet time. Be sure to check out their party supply section where you can pick out the perfect decor for your thoughtful reader's next birthday party.
NEARBY: Inside Bay Books is a coffee + pastry shop so you don’t have to go too far. Down the street, you have a choice from Moo Time Creamery for ice cream, Nado Gelato or across the street for an old-timey landmark at Clayton’s Coffee Shop for classic American meals, coffee, pie and jukebox tunes.
1007 Orange Ave., Coronado
Replenish your supply of bedtime stories at Warwicks, the country’s oldest family-owned and operated bookstore, located in La Jolla. The well-stocked shop offers a kid's section filled with a wide selection of books, educational toys, colorful artwork and comfy beanbag chairs. The store used to have storytimes so check back in case they start those up again later on.
NEARBY: This is in the middle of the village so you can shop, eat and people watch all morning long. Walk across the street to trendy Parakeet Café or a few blocks further to Better Buzz.
7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla
The Book Catapult
Recently opened in 2017, and very welcome addition to the South Park neighborhood. They have a wonderful children’s room full of books, while also focusing on new literary fiction, short stories, narrative nonfiction, science and nature writing.
NEARBY: Buy a book and walk 2 blocks down to Communal Coffee for a quick outdoor reading session.
The Book Catapult
3010 Juniper St., South Park
This long-time book store has been around since 1967 and is very well-known with the well-read crowd in town. There’s a great kid’s section with a variety of new books, including Level 1, 2 & 3 and summer beach reads. Donate to their ongoing Baby Book Drive where they collect books for tots 0-5 years old that are enrolled in the local UCSD high-risk infant follow-up program. These babies get a free book and parents get the encouragement to cuddle up and read; all from the donations of their customers.
NEARBY: Plan to grab breakfast, lunch or coffee at any one of the wonderful restaurants that are surrounded nearby; a favorite is Snooze A.M. Eatery 1 ½ blocks north.
3817 5th Ave., Hillcrest
A local’s favorite bookstore for used and rare books, but in a fun and hip art-filled space. They stock quality editions of classics, favorites and new discoveries, including over 200 local authors. You’ll find lots of cozy antique chairs for reading and discovering something new.
NEARBY: Walk to your choice of coffee shops from here, Dark Horse, Subterranean Coffee or Holsem Coffee; but the kids would love a stop at Flap Your Jacks (a make your own pancake grill restaurant!).
3793 30th St., North Park
Books about martians, magic, mayhem and more? Yes, please! Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego specializes in science fiction and fantasy and even offers customers a kid's indie reading list. The recommended books are curated by age and hand-picked to inspire tiny bookworms to keep reading.
NEARBY: Walk across the parking lot to Crumbl Cookies and you’ll be planning a return trip before you know it.
3555 Rosecrans St., Midway District
If your family is into comics and pop culture, then Comickaze is the bookshop for you. Comickaze stocks San Diego's largest and most diverse selection of comics, graphic novels and collector supplies. The store is chock full of merchandise so plan ahead for some extra browsing time here.
NEARBY: Two shops down is GuilTea Cravings for milk & boba teas, lattes, sweet macarons and Asian bites.
5517 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Clairemont
––Bonnie Taylor and Aimee Della Bitta