Posted November 22, 2016

How to Find Alternative Souvenirs

Travel Tips

Going on vacation? Need some souvenir ideas? Want to move beyond the “My ___ went to ___ and all I got was this ___ t-shirt”? We’ve got your back.

Whether you want to spend an afternoon looking for treasures in a shop full of locally made goods or just grab a city-loved favorite on your way out of town, here’s our souvenir shortlist to make your search easy (and fun).

Chicago, IL

Local favorite: Artisanal Spirits

Clayton Hauck for Letherbee

Creative, finely crafted spirits from the team at Letherbee. (Photo credit: Clayton Hauck for Letherbee)

An independent artisan distillery with a cult following, Letherbee was voted “Best Local Spirit” and “Best Local Distillery” in 2016 by the Chicago Reader. Keep an eye out for their local seasonal parties or sample their delicious spirits in upscale bars and restaurants across the city, then pick up a bottle to bring home. Just make sure to check your bag if you get the big bottle (and why not, right?). Anything over 3.4 ounces can’t fly in your carry-on with you per TSA regulations.

Cool shop: Wolfbait and B Girls


The proud female-led team at Wolfbait rocks fashion and warrior poses for #LoganSquareDoesYoga. (Photo credit: @wolfbaitchicago)

This hip female-owned boutique sells the wares of more than 200 local designers. The shop’s name comes from a 1950’s Chicago guidebook that used the term wolfbait to describe girls new to the city and searching for success, and b-girls – short for Bar Girls – as what they occasionally became. Shop for original artwork, accessories, apparel, paper goods, and beauty products in this Logan Square find.

Los Angeles, CA

Local Favorite: Compartes Chocolate


(Photo credit: @compartes)

An Instagram sensation, Compartes chocolate bars are deservedly famous for their creative, mouth-watering flavors like Roses and Rosé, Cereal Bowl, Donuts & Coffee and Animal Cookies. The packaging is iconic and special enough that each one feels like a collectible. Handmade in LA, these bars are definitely worth their weight.

Cool Shop: Los Angeles County Store

@LACountyStore 4

(Photo credit: MaryAnne LoVerme/@LACountyStore)

Completely stocked with goods made in Los Angeles, this shop perfectly captures the vibe of the city. Here you’ll find artisanal food, small housewares, prints and stationery, jewelry, books, apothecary and more.

Seattle, WA

Local Favorite: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.

@elmcoffeeroasters 2

(Photo credit: @elmcoffeeroasters)

Pick up a bag of locally-roasted beans and join the heated debate over which blend reigns in Seattle (see what we did there?). Try Elm Coffee Roasters, Espresso Vivace, Herkimer Coffee, and QED.

Another Local Favorite: Ellenos Yogurt (Yes, yogurt!)

Ellenos Yogurt

(Photo credit: @ellenos)

While Seattle is a notoriously chill city, right now it’s in the grip of a white-hot mania. People are freaking out over Ellenos, a new brand of yogurt that burst onto the culinary scene in 2013 and has taken the Rainy City by storm. Currently, it’s only sold in the Pacific Northwest, which makes it a perfect–if perishable–souvenir. Here’s a tip: if you’d like to bring some back in your carry-on, freeze it first to maximize the chances that it’ll get the green light from TSA.

Cool Shop: Pike Place Market

Started in 1907, this place is the mothership of urban farmer’s markets. 10 million people visit the market each year for culinary and artisan delights ranging from the classy (Treasure Trove oysters and champagne) to the crafty (hand knit sweaters and scarves). If you’ve fallen in love with the taste of fresh salmon during your stay, you’re in luck: you can get it shipped home from many shops in the market.

Portland, OR

Local Favorite: Jacobsen Salt


(Photo credit: @jacobsensaltco)

This salt is a sleeper and is shaking things up on the local food scene. Ben Jacobsen harvests his salt from Netarts Bay on the Oregon Coast. Prized for its pure taste, delicate crunch, and beautiful appearance, Jacobsen Salt is clean and bright, with a mineral tang. The defined, intense flavor means that a sprinkle or pinch is all you need. Local faves include Stumptown Flake, Smoked Ghost Chili Pepper and White Truffle…but really, it’s all good. If you want your taste buds to experience the salt in action, consider joining one of their community dinners at the company’s headquarters.

Cool Shop: Made Here PDX


(Photo credit: @MadeHerePDX)

This boutique is filled with beautifully crafted products, all made in Portland. The shop’s mission: to showcase the talents of Portland-based designers, artists, and makers. Based on the incredible art, stylish wearables, and smart home goods that fill this space, we’d say it’s a mission accomplished. Shop standouts include their selection of leather bags, statement jewelry, and hand pulled silk screen art.

– Kendra Collins


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Jeanne says:

    I love the local liquor idea! It’s so unique and will definitely be used.

  2. Heather says:

    I am going to get me some fancy salt the next time I’m in Portland! Thanks for the creative gift tips.

  3. Peter says:

    Thanks so for all these lovely ideas! I’m going to be in Seattle early next month and will definitely pick up some Herkimer beans for stocking stuffers.

    Also want to plus one the tip on the Ellenos yoghurts. I’ve had them several times and found them to be an absolutely delightful treat for the senses!!!

  4. joan morgan says:

    these are such terrific ideas! so many times i am at the airport and realize i have not gotten the gifts for others that i had wanted to. this list is inspiring me to look around more for that “special” gift. i like to support local entrepreneurs whenever possible, and i especially like the suggestions for Portland. thanks again!

  5. Suzanne Vitale says:

    What thoughtful and original ideas! How about a few more please- for Vero Beach Florida too perhaps?. I love the understated luxury of Kimpton Hotels, comfy and without pretense.

  6. Lee @ BaldThoughts says:

    It may seem like wasted money to a lot of people, but we buy magnets and ornaments from each new place we travel. It’s a great reminder of all of the fun memories we’ve created while traveling.