Encompassing an entire city block in downtown Portland, Powell’s City of Books is the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore and a top attraction for book lovers visiting the city. Here you’ll find upwards of a million books, including rare finds, first editions, and autographed copies of bestsellers and little-known titles alike, all under one roof.
Launched by Michael Powell in 1971, Powell’s has long been a Portland institution. Although there are multiple outlets, the flagship location in downtown Portland offers by far the best selection. Here you’ll also find a rare-book room and a coffee shop where customers are welcome to read books before buying. Many tours of downtown Portland stop here, though bibliophiles could easily dedicate an entire afternoon just to wandering the shop’s seemingly endless aisles.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Powell’s City of Books is a must for bibliophiles.
- The bookstore is divided into color-coded rooms (blue room, rose room, etc.).
- If you have used books to get rid of, you can sell them for cash or store credit at any Powell’s location.
- Powell’s City of Books is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
- Powell’s doesn’t just sell books: All locations also sell gifts, souvenirs, journals, and even chocolate.
How to Get There
Powell’s City of Books, the shop’s flagship location, is located on West Burnside Street, at the edge of the Pearl District in downtown Portland. The Portland Streetcar stops just outside, but it’s easy walking distance from most city center hotels. There’s also a small parking lot for shoppers and plenty of street parking in the neighborhood, though it can be hard to find a spot during the dinner hour.
When to Get There
Powell’s is a year-round destination, and it’s open late most nights, making it a good option for those looking for some late-night book browsing. It can get crowded on weekends and during the pre-Christmas rush. Regular readings and author events are held at the store throughout the year, usually in the early evening.
Although most people head to the flagship location on West Burnside, Powell’s also operates a few smaller outlets. There’s a small one at the Portland International Airport as well as a larger branch at Cedar Hills Crossing in the neighboring suburb of Beaverton. Powell’s also has a quirky scaled-down version of its main store on trendy Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and an adjacent specialty store, also on Hawthorne, focusing on cookbooks and gardening.