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Bookstore, Thrift Store, Coffee Shop: My Holy Trinity When Visiting A New City

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Summer is rapidly approaching, and with it, travel plans. Visiting a new place can be insanely overwhelming. Though the internet is a great resource for finding things to do or see, it can sometimes feel like too great of a resource. Sometimes I’ve found myself spending more time digging for things to do in a new city on Instagram or TikTok than the amount of time I’m actually going to spend there. Even more times, I’ve found myself with a list of destinations so long that I waste my time narrowing down the ones I’m actually going to get to. 

That’s why I’ve made it my mission to visit at least these three destinations in every new place I visit: a bookstore, a thrift store and a coffee shop. Not only are they the manifestations of my interests, but visiting each location can give you a great feel for the place you’re visiting. No local bookstore, thrift store or coffee shop is alike. They each reflect their surroundings and the people that live in the area. Yet, they are reliable in that they contain books, coffee and clothes. Three things you can’t go wrong with. 

This picture was taken at the Old Julian Book House, a bookstore in Julian, California.

Bookstores are a comfort to me: the smell of worn pages, the embrace of stacks upon stacks of novels as you browse. Often, local bookstores are family-owned and much more sustainable than chains like Barnes and Noble. They are a wonderful way to interact with locals in the area you are visiting while supporting a small business. Many local bookstores sell used books, which is far better for the environment, and it’s fun to skim through pages for little notes and annotations. Plus, local bookstores tend to be more uniquely designed or organized than chains, with fun personal touches, and may even host artistic events or readings. One of my favorites I’ve visited is the bookstore in Julian, California. It’s family owned and comprised of an adorable little house. 

This picture was taken at Country Roads Antiques, an antique store in Orange, California.

The reason to visit thrift stores while traveling might be the most obvious. Thrift stores are, by definition, all different. The clothes that are sold at local thrift stores are just about the most authentic souvenirs you can purchase. Not to mention, you find some super rare gems traveling. I got the coolest pair of cowboy boots for less than twenty dollars at a thrift store in Arizona and a beautiful Italian leather jacket in New York at a similarly shockingly low price. The style of the clothes often embodies the style of the place. It’s both shopping on a budget, unearthing unique items and touring all in one. 

This picture was taken at The Living Room, a coffee shop in San Diego, California.

I absolutely adore coffee. I’m bound to crave coffee no matter where I am. Thus, I’ve exploited my coffee addiction throughout my travels. That way, instead of feeling like I’m wasting my time in a new place going to Starbucks, I can comfort myself that my coffee drinking is a critical aspect of my travel experience. Local coffee shops can be truly incredible: whether they contain local memorabilia, an iconic signature drink you can’t get anywhere else or a cute theme or gimmick, each is entirely unique and has a distinct flavor and aesthetic. 

And that’s it: my holy trinity of destinations to stop by at every new locale. If you’re overwhelmed by your itinerary, try starting with these three simple spots. They’re reliable and the perfect way to quickly get to know the place you’re visiting.

Kylee is a fourth-year at UCLA double-majoring in Communication and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her poems have been published in Train River Poetry, The Mandarin, Open Ceilings, and our very own Westwind (among others). She also writes feature articles for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she acts, drinks way too much coffee, romanticizes everything, and buys more books than she can keep up with.