Granted, the Strand faces a wee bit of competition for a traveler's time and dollars. But this sprawling book bazaar deserves a place on any reader's Big Apple itinerary, along with the Met, Broadway, the Empire State Building, and what's left of Little Italy. One of the last survivors of New York's once-fertile Book Row, the Strand has been owned by the founding Bass family since it opened back in Babe Ruth's heyday.

The eight-mile motto (referring not to floor space but to books, mostly used, laid end-to-end) boggles the mind, but the owners say they've measured to be sure. Claiming the largest rare-book collection in New York City, the Strand has housed first editions of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and printings of Shakespeare's works dating to 1632. So pick up a map as you enter this dusty, crowded gold mine. You'll need it.

Books & Books

235 Aragon Ave.
(305) 442-4408
Founded: 1982
Offers: New and antiquarian books
Claim to fame: Large multilingual clientele, international feel

The Miami area conjures up thoughts of sun, sparkling water, superb cooking, art deco, barely dressed models, and - books? . And much of Miami's literary rep comes from the influence of Mitch Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and cofounder of the spectacular Miami Book Fair International, a weeklong bash that draws hundreds of writers and upwards of half a million readers each November.

The Coral Gables Books & Books (there's another store in Miami's South Beach) features a breezy patio with a wine bar. In addition to perusing a stellar collection of Spanish-language books - anything about Cuba tends to do well - patrons can take tango lessons and purchase the works of local artists.

Powell's City of Books