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).
Local favorite: Artisanal Spirits
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
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
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
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.
Local Favorite: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee.
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!)
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.
Local Favorite: Jacobsen Salt
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
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