The Best Souvenir Shopping in 17 Cities
Looking for gifts inspired by your travels? We’ve picked the best local finds from some of our favorite cities.
We all want to be the person who brings back the coolest finds from our trips. And rest assured, there’s a discovery to be had, no matter the destination—the hard part is finding it. We’ve done the work for you and mined 17 of our favorite cities for the best gifts and souvenirs they offer. Forget the clichéd snow globes and logo t-shirts: this group of mementos is locally made, crafted, and adored. So clear some room in your suitcase, and prepare to stock up.
Read on for our picks, or jump ahead to your city of interest: Amsterdam; Atlanta; Charleston; Chicago; Hong Kong; London; Maui; Melbourne; Milwaukee; New York City; Paris; Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; Shanghai; Toronto; Vancouver; and Washington, D.C.
Save room in your carry-on if you’re heading to Amsterdam. Alongside the must-buy—or must-avoid, depending on your taste—tourist trinity of cheese, tulips, and clogs, we picked the three best things to bring home with you.
The signature Dutch cookie, stroopwafel—which consists of two buttery wafers sandwiched together by caramel syrup—is hard to resist. After eating them warm from a street vendor or in a café in Amsterdam, you’ll want to take some home with you. They make great gifts, acceptable to all but those on the strictest diets.
Reputedly, the city’s best stroopwafels are made at Lanskroon, a historic canalside bakery and tearoom. The street vendor at the Albert Cuyp market comes in a popular second. Tins of stroopwafels can also be bought in retail chains Hema and Albert Heijn. Pro tip: Make sure you get the all-butter variants. You can also combine Delft and stroopwafels, by buying the Royal Delft canal house stroopwafel jar (from the Bijenkorf) to keep your cookies in.
Nothing says Holland quite like Delft Blue, the trademark blue-and-white pottery that dates back to the 16th century. Not-so surprisingly, you’ll see it everywhere in Amsterdam, from classic tiles to minimalist modern bowls. Antique pieces can put you back thousands of euros, but there are cheap-and-cheerful versions you can pick up for a few euros in the markets, If you’re after the real deal, head for Galleria D'Arte Rinascimento, which stocks both old and new pieces (the aged pieces are often great value for money), or for the Jorrit Heinen Delft Shop. For the latter, there’s a branch on Prinsengracht and also a location in the historic former city mint, the Munttoren, which stocks a wide assortment of pieces made by the centuries old and still operating Royal Delft factory.
Alternatively, check out the &Klevering pieces in the Rijksmuseum shop, which were inspired by 16th and 17th century originals in the Rijksmuseum collection. For something more modern but still traditionally Delft, the Bijenkorf department stores stocks the simpler, more contemporary Blue D1653 range of Royal Delft, designed by Arian Brekveld, Chris Koens, and Damian O’Sullivan.
Van Wees Liqueurs
Distilling is an ancient Amsterdam tradition, and to this day A. Van Wees uses the time-honored techniques of Holland’s glory days to produce its unique liqueurs. Many of the recipes date back to the 16th century, some even to the Middle Ages. Bruidstranen (‘bride’s tears’), for example, was traditionally passed around at weddings. Distilled from oranges, cloves, almonds, nutmeg, and cinnamon, the liqueur contains flakes of pure silver, symbolizing tears (of joy, we hope). Vergeet mij Niet (‘don’t forget me’) was given by women to their husbands and sweethearts as they sailed off on Dutch trading ships in the Golden Age. It’s a heady mix of roses, lavender, violets, rum, brandy and spices.
A. Van Wees produces its extraordinary concoctions in the old Distillery de Ooievaar in the Jordaan, which is a must-visit. Founded in 1883, it remains a family business, using the ancient four-step distillation process to produce new liqueurs, too. Looking for something more modern? Yuzu is the distillery’s latest flavor.
Long after you depart from Atlanta, you’ll still have Georgia on your mind. From pickled produce to hip T-shirts, here are a few locally made souvenirs you’re sure to find downright peachy.
Mama Bath + Body Neighborhood Soaps
Lather up with these scented soaps honoring Atlanta’s most recognizable neighborhoods, including Inman Park, Virginia-Highland, and Midtown. You’ll notice hints of lavender in the soap for the toney Buckhead neighborhood, and there’s no mistaking the patchouli in the one for earthy Little Five Points. Made by Atlanta-based Mama Bath + Body, they’re available at the company’s retail locations in Krog Street Market and Avondale Estates. $9
Preserving Place Pickled Peaches
At Preserving Place in the Westside Provisions district, Atlanta’s canning queen Martha McMillin teaches classes on the time-honored Southern tradition of preserving local produce. Take home her mother’s specialty: a jar of pickled peaches flavored with vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. $25
Modern Tribe Atlanta Streetcar T-shirt
From its retail store along the Atlanta Streetcar line, Modern Tribe caters to Atlanta’s large Jewish population with hip Jewish and Judaica gifts. Its commemorative T-shirt depicts Atlanta’s new trolley (bearing the words “Shalom, Y’all”), plus the landmark Auburn Avenue street sign and historic Big Bethel AME Church’s spire. $18.
The Collective Atlanta Landmark Coasters
These vintage-looking coasters showcase some of the Atlanta area’s best-known landmarks, from The Righteous Room to the Big Chicken to Clermont Lounge. Find them at The Collective, a co-op located in a restored bungalow at Krog Street Market. $12
Beautiful Briny Sea Santa Salt
Just in time for Christmas, this specialty Santa Salt adds a playful kick to holiday meals. A combination of rosemary salt and pink peppercorn salt, it’s made with local herbs in Atlanta’s historic Grant Park neighborhood by Beautiful Briny Sea. $8
CACAO Atlanta Chocolate Company Chocolate
With three Atlanta locations (plus a fourth set to open soon), CACAO Atlanta Chocolate Company is building a bean-to-bar empire in its namesake city. Its gleaming stores offer everything from single-origin chocolate bars to locally made truffles; at the Buckhead location, take home a limited-edition bar encased in a wrapper designed by abstract art studio NG Collective (pictured; call for price).
Charleston is a small city with big-city sensibilities. Given the wealth of award-winning restaurants in town, eating is an experience here, but the good food isn't confined to these eateries' walls. Small-batch and artisanal products abound, and local craft is prized above all. So save some room in your luggage for these gifts that evoke the true flavor of this great American city.
Carolina Sea Salt
The term terroir takes on new meaning when the product is actually part of the landscape (or seascape). The Carolina Flake Salt from Bulls Bay Saltworks is solar-evaporated and harvested from a bay just north of Charleston. It's a wide, flat flake that is easily one of the best finishing salts for grilled fish or fresh salads.
Burnt and Salty Korean Mustard
Chef de Cuisine Bob Cook of Cypress and Artisan Meat Share (AMS) has ventured into the condiment business with this first offering from the new Burnt and Salty, a special Korean Mustard. The mustard, which has been sold for a while in tubs from the case at AMS, is now properly bottled and ready to grace anything from cheese plates to burgers with its addictive sweet twang.
High Wire Distilling Sorghum Whiskey
Sorghum was once many a Southerner's attempt to avoid the molasses tax, and although that failed, this small-batch whiskey from High Wire Distilling is a winner. Full of the dark and yet decidedly "green" sorghum taste (the whole plant is used in production), this whiskey's demand is high at the moment, because it makes a stalwart milk punch or holiday egg nog—or a simple fireside sip.
King Bean Twenty Strong Coffee
Order a coffee at many of Charleston's best restaurants, and the likelihood is high that what comes to the table is a King Bean roast. Twenty Strong is the full-bodied commemorative roast celebrating the company's twenty-year anniversary.
Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
While officially milled further upstate, this rice is nevertheless quintessentially Charleston. It is the historic grain upon which much of Charleston's antebellum wealth was built, and because of Glenn Roberts, Anson Mills' founder and heirloom grain visionary, the unique characteristics of this historical grain are once again available.
Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix
Charleston native and award-winning bartender John Aquino won the Bloody Mary Throwdown at the local Cooper River Bridge Run afterparty in 2012 with this recipe, which he's dubbed Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix. It's inspired by a yellow tomato gazpacho he'd enjoyed at Hank's Seafood. What sets it apart is its fresh tomato pulp using Valencia Gold tomatoes grown on nearby Johns Island.
Charleston Spice Company's Aliño Blend
While many of the Charleston Spice Company's blends may not be traditionally "Southern," they speak to the diverse nature and creative talent that the city embraces. Owner Garnette Tuten's childhood memory of Peru comes through in this herb blend with spearmint and lemon, surprisingly good in quiche.
Bittermilk No. 2 Tom Collins Mix
This cocktail mix from from Bittermilk is made with Elderflower & Hops. Days of the cut-rate cocktail mixer are long gone, since Bittermilk came out of the kitchens of The Gin Joint. Home experimentation is encouraged—it plays well with gin, vodka, whiskey, and even tequila.
What better way to remember a city than through a celebratory memento? Bring home the best of what Chicago has to offer with these local gifts.
Customized Gift Basket
Play up the Windy City connection with MyFavoriteCity.com's Gift Basket Sampler that includes a little bit of everything that makes the city great, from sports, to food, to trivia. All the contents are branded with the city name, and you'll get coffee, a mug, chocolate, mints, Tootsie Rolls, a pen, playing cards and trivia cards, and a Cubs, White Sox, or Bears t-shirt can-coozie.
Bring home some authentic city tastes with a frozen deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati's or Gino's East, and for dessert, have some of Garrett Popcorn's Chicago-specific mix—a blend of cheese corn and caramel corn.
Learn a little about the Second City's history and its most notorious serial killer by reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. The book details the crimes of H. H. Holmes, who brought women into his murder castle on the south side during the 1893 Columbian Exposition world's fair.
In a shopping mecca like Hong Kong, where chain stores, malls, and retail complexes are aplenty, finding the perfect souvenir can be a challenging feat. Fortunately, decision fatigue can be prevented. Here are four small, but unique, gift options that best capture the city's vibrant, local culture. Remember to get extras—you'll want to keep some of these for yourself.
GoodBuy Hong Kong Cookies
Cased in tin jars that pay tribute to the city's mezmerizing neon signage, this buttery snack also doubles as an edible good luck charm: traditional Chinese characters meaning "Good Luck" and "Great Profit" are embossed on each cookie, available in milk tea and yuanyang (a half-coffee, half-milk-tea concotion unique to the city's cafes) flavors. Sold in a number of specialty stores throughout the city, and all proceeds are donated to local charity organizations benefitting the impoverished.
Po Sum On Healing Balm
Balms, ointments, and medicated oils are seen as something of a cure-all in Hong Kong, many of which are based off of family recipes passed on from one generation to another. This healing balm from legacy brand Po Sum On claims to relieve everything from headaches to bug bites to muscle pain, and has been a household staple ever since the company's debut in 1907. The traditional packaging and invigorating smell make for a thoughtful present.
Any Hong Konger worth one's salt can tell you how significant the red-white-blue bag is to the local collective memory. These tricolor nylon bags first originated in the 1960s as a cheap carryall option for people to lug around heavy items, but have since been reinterpreted into runway inspiration and raw materials for souvenirs. The company rwb330 is a whimsical concept store that sells bags, posters, and small objects made with the durable fabric. Our favorite is the mini luggage tag.
Nin Jiom Herbal Candy
These Chinese medicine tablets (pictured) will come in handy for anyone with a scratched voice or soar throat: Created with a Qing Dynasty herbal formula that landed in the hands of a Hong Kong merchant, this sweet alternative to cough syrup costs just under $1 per pack, and can be purchased at any major supermarkets and pharmacies. Legend has it that many well-known singers from Japan buy them in bulk whenever they have a concert in town.
A stroll down Shaftesbury Avenue or a quick whizz past the shops around Piccadilly Circus, and you'd be convinced that cutout face masks of the Queen and One Direction are what Britain does best. Despite their being in seemingly every shop window on every street corner, though, Londoners still don't know who buys them. When it comes to scouting gifts in the capital, it's best to avoid Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, and instead head to the city's famed department stores and artsy independents. Here, you'll spend a little more, but find purchases unique presents entirely on point.
Beefeater Christmas Ornament
Beefeaters are an icon of London, one that's instantly recognized and thought fondly of worldwide. Come Christmas time, they look good on the tree in their aptly festive uniforms, and cherub-like painted faces. Find them at Liberty, for guaranteed luxury and that quintessential London touch, though there's no doubt you'll be able to pick one up at any of the city's luxury department stores ($28). Plus, Liberty is one of London's most celebrated shops and it's magical to visit at this time of year
Emma Bridgewater Mug
Chances are if you go to a friend's house for afternoon tea in England, they'll have at least one piece of Emma Bridgewater crockery. It's as popular to buy for yourself as it is to gift, what with the brand's vast array of plates, mugs, jugs and bowls, all with different prints and ability to be personalized. This is a family business that contributes to Staffordshire's heritage. Every charming piece is designed by Emma and her husband. Visit the Emma Bridgewater locations in Fulham and Marylebone, as well as online (from $30).
Rob Ryan Prints
Rob Ryan is one of London's most celebrated independent craftsmen, who has exhibited across the UK, illustrated 3 books, graced many a gift shop with his products, and collaborated with numerous international publications. His intricate papercuts and screenprints are not only mesmerizing and beautiful, but instantly recognizable, too, and will brighten up any home. Purchse them at Ryantown, Rob Ryan's small gallery and boutique on East London's Columbia Road (from $210). On a Sunday, when the flower market is in full swing, you'll struggle to see or find the store for crowds and flowers, but pick any other day and you won't miss it.
Mr. Lyan Mixed Cocktails
Mr. Lyan is one of London's most celebrated mixologists, known for his unusual and unexpected cocktail combinations. His bar, Dandelyan in Mondrian London, just won the title of 50th Best Bar in the World. Go for drinks, then take the essence of the experience back home to enjoy with friends. And the Rainy Day spritz—with bitter rhubarb vermouth and white vermouth—is the perfect gift to sum up a city that's known for its rain ($53). You can buy it at Selfridges (pictured).
British Tea Caddy
Does is get more British than tea? Perk up anyone's afternoon (and kitchen) with a British tea caddy. Available at Harrods; cost varies. This gives you an excuse to spend an hour wandering the store, one of the world's most famous shops. In the food hall, you'll find all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients you never knew you needed.
Here’s the thing about souvenirs: Through sight and sound, smell and taste—or simply through memory—they can take you back to a place that’s thousands of miles away. And Hawaii is a destination many people want to relive. Read on for our list of local, artisanal gifts from Maui that bring the island to your home.
Whether it’s Maui Mokka from Maui Grown Coffee or beans from O‘o Farm, a cup of freshly brewed Maui coffee helps start the morning off right. The coffee industry on the island is booming, and you can even find beans out at Ono Farms—located 40 minutes past Hana. For a selection of beans you can buy by the pound, visit Anthony’s Coffee Company in Paia (90 Hana Highway, Paia; 800-882-6509), and for gourmet coffee bought straight from the source, hit Launiupoko Farmers Market on Saturday.
Hand Carved Honu
If at any point you went snorkeling in Maui you probably saw a honu. These Hawaiian Green sea turtles are revered for their grace and beauty when swimming underwater, and their figure is found on Maui souvenirs, from t-shirts to jewelry and mugs. The best honu you can buy, however, are exquisitely carved from wood, and are handcrafted by locals using only a chisel and tools. To shop for hand-carved honu in Maui, listen for the sound of chisels striking wood by Lahaina’s famous banyan tree, or ask for Funaki, the resident carver, at Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel.
Ni‘ihau Shell Jewelry
Luxurious, unique, exotic—and small—Ni‘ihau shells are the most authentic jewelry you could bring home from Hawaii. Only found on the shores of Ni‘ihau, these shells are crafted into necklaces and earrings that are Hawaii’s most sought-after jewelry. On Maui, visit Totally Hawaiian or Maui Hands to check out the different offerings.
Maui has stringent agricultural rules for taking produce off the island, but pineapple is one of the few exceptions you can legally ship back home. Thanks to the taste of Maui Gold pineapple—which is sweet instead of bitter—the island operates America’s only pineapple plantation. Buy your pineapples from Mr. Pineapple en route to Kahului airport, or get a free pineapple in a take-home box at the end of the Maui Pineapple Tour.
Finally, whether you’re visiting Tuscany, Mendoza, Marlborough, Napa, Adelaide, or Cape Town, bringing home a bottle of wine is a commemorative end to a trip, and Maui is no different. Pick up some island-grown red and white blends at the Maui Wine tasting room in Ulupalakua—an historic cottage where King Kalakaua once stayed in the 19th century.
No one said souvenirs had to be expensive, and “rubbah slippahs” are one of the most popular gift people buy here. “Sandals” are “slippers” here in Maui, and the basic, rubber-soled, convenience store type are the official footwear of locals. Fittingly, the “Locals” brand has a cult-like following. They cost only $5 at Maui stores such as Long’s, but the slippers can last for over a year even with regular, everyday use.
Melbourne is a town of artists and dreamers, writers and thinkers, and while it’s still possible to grab a plush toy koala or a t-shirt splashed with a slogan in the city, there are plenty of far more creative options when it comes to slipping a few souvenirs and gifts into your luggage. Here are a few of our favorites.
From 1910 until the 1960s designer James Northfield created a huge series of graphic advertisements depicting all aspects of Australian living, from the scenery to the wildlife. This 1936 creation, Melbourne: The Garden Capital of Australia, was part of Victoria Railway’s tourism campaign. Since 2012, Northfield’s designs have become available again from Australian Vintage Posters in three sizes, from $113.
The health of the environment is largely dependent on the health of the bee population, so, in 2011, beekeepers Mat Lumalasi and Vanessa Kwiatkowski set up Rooftop Honey. Their plan was to bring bees back to the city by placing hives on roofs and in gardens. Jars of the sweet stuff, collected from the Central Business District and surrounding suburbs, are available from Rooftop Honey’s website and locations around the city; $11.
Anyone who has been in Melbourne for more than a few hours will probably have jumped on one of the trams that ferry folks around the city. The heritage W-class trams used on the City Circle route have been captured on Hanky Fever’s gorgeous unisex handkerchiefs, so anyone can keep a piece of Melbourne in their pocket; $11.
Local Beauty Products
Rennie Ellis captured the dark, often unseen side of Melbourne in his photographs. The late artist worked mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, and his work can still be seen in a number of major galleries. In 2014, local company Kleins Perfumery released a number of products—body wash and hand cream included—inspired by Ellis’s art and featuring his work. The No Standing Only Dancing soap with Australian Wild Mint is an easy one to fit in the suitcase; $7.
City Pride Pennant
Hang a slice of the city in the living room, with Penelope Durston’s Melbourne pennant. The collection also includes a number of suburbs, including Fitzroy and Brunswick; $32.
Milwaukee may not be as big as other major cities, but it packs just as much of a cultural punch—one that should be celebrated with these wierd, wonderful, and distinctly Wisconsin souvenirs.
It may be a little cliché—but do not leave MKE without a foam cheese hat. Wisconsinites have been known as cheeseheads for practically millennia, and now the term is completely embraced. Wear the hat to a Packers game, but be prepared for the other team to have cheese grater hats.
Satisfy a dairy tooth with a visit to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, where customers can browse more than two hundred types of cheese to find the perfect wheel to take home. Oh, and don't forget to celebrate the city's German heritage with some local sausage, also available at the Cheese Mart.
Milwaukee natives love local sports, and the Klement's Racing Sausages are the darlings of the Cream City. Bring home a piece of the game with a bobblehead version of Bratwurst, Polish, Italian, Hot Dog, or Chorizo. And don't worry, no one will judge you for staging your own sausage races at special events. It's a pastime everyone can enjoy.
New York City
Though there are plenty of shops in Manhattan selling snow globes, figurines, and clothing that sports the ever-ubiquitous "I Heart NY" logo, savvy travelers know there are better purchases to be made in the Big Apple. Always ahead of the trends, New Yorkers are known for innovation, which means visitors can find unique keepsakes and gifts unavailable anywhere else. These are some of our favorites, from liquor distilled in Brooklyn to tote bags that subtly bestow an insider status on the wearer.
New York Distilling Company Gin & Rye
Anyone who appreciates this city’s cocktail culture will love the small batch spirits by the New York Distilling Company, which are poured in bars city-wide. Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the distillery offers free tours and tastings on the weekends. After sampling a few cocktails made with their signature gins and ryes at the on-site bar called the Shanty, you’ll want to bring home a bottle or two and mix up your own gimlets and sazeracs.
A collection of personalized maps by New Yorkers both anonymous and famous, Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers compiles dozens of personal recollections about the Big Apple. Author Becky Cooper distributed blank maps to the contributors and asked people to annotate them with personal associations instead of major landmarks. The result is a touching compilation of illustrated maps that has been compared to Post Secret for its confessional quality.
Mast Brothers Chocolate
For a sweet remembrance of your time in New York, pick up a bar or two by Brooklyn’s favorite artisanal bean-to-bar chocolatiers. The Mast Brothers revamped their flagship store in Williamsburg earlier this year with a streamlined design, more tours, and new bonbon flavors. With beautifully designed wrapping, they make great gifts, too. Best of all: the bars are so small you can bring back several.
Model Water Tower
Skip the cheesy Statue of Liberty figurines and instead pick up a model water tower kit. Locally crafted by Boundless Brooklyn, the DIY water towers are made of recycled chipboard and are fun gifts for crafty kids (and adults) who can assemble and decorate their own. Nearly as widespread as real water towers, the kits are available at MoMA Design Stores, PowerHouse Books, Owl and Thistle General Store, Red Pearl, the High Line, and many other shops around the city.
Sweets by Momofuku Milk Bar
Award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi turns out famously quirky-but-addictive treats like crack pie, compost cookies, and cake truffles. Though there are now seven Milk Bar locations in New York, Washington D.C., and Toronto, it all began in Manhattan’s East Village. Stop into any of the bakery’s New York City locations to pick up some sweets to go, or have them shipped when you buy online. Aspiring pastry chefs can even take a class at the Williamsburg production kitchen or take home one of Tosi’s cookbooks.
Whitney Museum Tote Bag
Skip the ‘I heart NY’ gear—insiders show their allegiance to New York’s top spots by carrying a tote bag subtly emblazoned with the name of a favorite museum, gallery, or bookshop. For art lovers, a canvas tote from the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking district is the bag du jour. For bibliophiles, a tote from the Union Square literary mecca known as The Strand is a must-have.
Chanel, Dior, Balmain—ooh la la. The designer name game is real in Paris, but souvenirs need not always cost a week's salary. Plus, you can purchase many of those brands back home, or even online. The same goes for chocolates by Pierre Hermé, or prints, mugs, and bookmarks of Monet's water lilies and Toulouse-Lautrec's cancan dancers. For something unique, try these independent wearables, eatables, and display-ables that will surely up your Francophile factor.
Trés Chic Items to Wear or Carry
Paris is full of charming boutiques and off-kilter shops that offer trinkets made by independent "createurs," as they're called. Stores like Sept Cinq in South Pigalle showcase gold-plated charm necklaces featuring a dangling Eiffel Tower, and Les Impertinentes in the 2nd arrondissement, near popular Rue Montorgueil, offers string bracelets with words like "Bonjour" or "Bonheur" (happiness) etched on gold circles. Expat designers like Kasia Dietz make clever, handprinted totes (pictured) that show allegiance to Rive Gauche, Rive Droite or even certain Parisian postal codes, and are available at stores like Brand Bazar in Saint-Germain.
Tasty Treats That Will Linger
The shelf-life of a baguette is likely shorter than your plane ride home, and a chunk of Beaufort will only make your fellow fliers turn their noses up. Thankfully, Paris offers an array of specialty goodies for gourmands that'll last long after you've unpacked. For big-city aficionados, there's Maison de thé Marriage Freres' "Paris New York" green tea, which highlights a balanced blend of notes that represent the two cities: romantic brioche (Paris) and animated hazelnut (NYC). The mustards from Edmond Fallot, a third generation family business in Burgundy, will dress le hot dog as if it were haute couture, and while the eclairs from L'Eclaire de Genie are sure to squish in the overhead bin, their tubes of caramel in flavors such as sesame orange blossom will sate any sweet tooth. All of these can be found at Lafayette Gourmet.
Iconic Design Troves to Display at Home
Concept shops such as Merci in the Marais are ripe with unique knick-knacks and artistic gems, such as matted prints of the mock magazine project called The Parisianer, made by various local illustrators in the cover style of the New Yorker. There's a Paris scene to suit all tastes, from a classic bistro to the most ubiquitous of all, the Eiffel Tower. British artist Jenni Sparks offers her own playful representation of the city through handdrawn maps, complete with cartoon-style icons for famous monuments and landmarks. The 24-x-24-inch framable pieces are available through Evermade, but they can also be found on mugs and stationary at BHV department store.
The temperature is dropping and the garlands soon to be strung. Even streetlights seem to twinkle a little more this time of year. The holiday season is upon us and we’re on the hunt for the perfect gifts. Cross some off your list with our top picks for Philadelphia-themed souvenirs.
The sandwich that put Philadelphia on the gut-busting map takes the form of candy at Mueller Chocolate Company. Owner Dr. Chockenstein regularly creates the most unusual chocolates out there: chocolate-covered whole raw onions and human organ-shaped chocolates (nothing like reminding someone they’re ‘on your mind’ than with a chocolate brain). At seven inches long and with realistic detail, Mueller’s chocolate cheesesteak resembles the real deal—especially the streak of white chocolate on top standing in for traditional cheese whiz. Available at the Reading Terminal Market, a retail store just outside the city in Rockledge, and online.
Good Night, Philadelphia
Everyone remembers the beloved children’s book, Goodnight Moon. This version Phillifies the classic by taking kids on a colorful, literary journey to famous Philly sites, including the Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal Market, the Schuylkill river and the Museum of Art. Available at Ali’s Wagon and a number of online retailers.
We Heart Philly’s LOVE Line
Souvenirs featuring Philadelphia’s famous LOVE sculpture are plentiful around town, but We Heart Philly’s designs make the symbol fashionable and functional. Dainty gold and silver earrings and necklaces, artsy coasters and canvas totes are available online and at two charming shops, Open House and Verde. The collection also includes gifts—like bottle openers, decorative platters, and flasks—that highlight Philly’s diverse neighborhoods, favorite snack (soft pretzel) and landmarks.
The Philly-themed apparel at Cheesesteaks Tees drip with sarcasm, humor and nostalgia—sometimes all at once. It’s hard to choose between throwback team logos and inside jokes like the “Mess with Texas” design with a scratched out Cowboys star. Rated ‘R’ shirts will make adults giggle, while sweet baby onesies bring home the cute factor.
Art in the Age Spirits
A nice bottle of booze is always a fun present, but this Old City shop’s four organic liquor offerings are one-of-a-kind. Root is based on a 1700s recipe for an herbal remedy made with sassafras, sarsaparilla, birch bark and other wild roots and herbs that were popular in Pennsylvania. Perfect for wintertime, Snap employs a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe using hearty blackstrap molasses and fresh ginger. Tangy Rhubarb—a favorite flavor of Ben Franklin—incorporates beets, carrots, lemons, petitgrain, cardamom, and pure cane sugar, while Sage is a take on a ‘garden gin’ with notes of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and fennel.
After a visit to Portland, you’ll hopefully head home with a few things: a belly full of Voodoo Donuts and Hopworks beers; memories of fun times exploring the city; and sore hamstrings from an awesome hike in Forest Park. But if you’d also like take back something a bit more permanent, check out these quintessentially Portland souvenirs—just pack (gently) in your suitcase to bring a little of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty home with you.
It’s hard to find a trendy store, restaurant, or hotel in the city that isn’t decorated with a beautiful glass vessel sprouting an air plant. Make your own from the colored sand, stones, shells, and wide variety of plants at Artemisia. They’ll expertly pack your creation for airplane carry-on, or help you design a packable kit so you can assemble the terrarium at home.
Jewelry and Ceramics
Handmade local crafts are a big deal in Portland (after all, it’s home to the twice-annual Crafty Wonderland fair with more than 200 vendors). Carter & Rose stocks only small-production, made-in-Portland items, including leather bags, wall planters, art pieces, ceramics, cards, soaps, and jewelry. Your best bet? A pair of super-cool geometric earrings from Essie Day Jewelry, and a colorful jewelry dish handmade by the owners to display them in-between wearings.
Bring home a beautiful letterpress card from local printers Egg Press to stick on the fridge, or opt for a frame-ready art print. Two stores that stock great ones (including lovely portraits of animals wearing civilized human outfits, from local artist Ryan Berkley) are Tender Loving Empire and Land Gallery. Voila! Portland on your walls.
Hopefully while in town you got a taste of the delicious wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Since you may worry about a bottle getting cracked in your checked bag, instead pack a can of Underwood Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris —yes, good wine in a can—from Union Wine Co.
—Sarah Z. Wexler
Shanghai sits at the juxtaposition of traditional and modern China, a meeting point of historical curiosities and innovative design. These five presents range from traditional trinkets and time-honored brands, to contemporary takes on longstanding customs—and they make the perfect gift if you're wondering what to buy in Shanghai.
Pinyin Press Wearables
Inspired by everyday Shanghai-scenes, Pinyin (the Romanized writing system for Mandarin) Press produces a collection of items with iconic, hand-drawn illustrations, graphics, and prints. From crockery bedecked in boazi (steamed buns) to t-shirts with the famous lucky cat emblem, this company bridges the gap between traditional Chinese motifs and contemporary life in the city. This year, they teamed up with Wobabybasics to create children's apparel adorned with a festive noodle bowl pattern (noodles are commonly eaten to celebrate birthdays or to signify longevity). Made from organic cotton, they're available in a bright palette of colors, in sizes from newborn to eight years old. Find the full Pinyin Press collection at Madame Mao's Dowry
This cheeky casualwear design company playfully fuses Eastern and Western concepts to create comfortable t-shirts and sweaters, as well as accessories. The bold, and at times brazen, designs include mischievous wordplay using English catchphrases and Chinese characters. Favorites are "Don't give a 事"(shì –meaning nonsensical attitude), "You're too mafan" (troublesome), and "Frankie says 放松" (most people can probably guess that one...). A playful introduction to Mandarin, these designs will be sure to get people talking. You can browse the COB ORIGINALS collection at their studio (Room 202, Building 3, 764 Changle Road, near Fumin Road), but we advise calling ahead
This company combines traditional Chinese ceramic, cloisonné, lacquer and paper artwork with a vivid color scheme and contemporary influences from around the world. Each piece is created by skilled craftsmen, following ancient design techniques, yet would not look out of place in a modern home anywhere. The cloisonné vase was inspired by a Chinese lantern and is made with intricately cut metal and enamel, before being fired in a kiln. Piling Palang products can be picked up at one of the brand's stores in Shanghai.
White Rabbit Candies
This Shanghai "time-honored brand," meaning it has a history of at least 50 years, and supposedly possesses strong Chinese characteristics and distinct regional features. It has a special place in the hearts of many of the city's adult residents, being the confectioner of choice for most Chinese youngsters growing up in previous decades. The creamy, milky candies are easy to pack, and White Rabbit candies can be picked up in most convenience stores around the city.
This moon-shaped fan was originally used by nobles, though ultimately came to be known as the reunion fan, and was exchanged between friends and family members over time. The fans at Zen Lifestore come from neighboring Suzhou, and are made using silk and bamboo, with each creation having a unique double-sided, hand-embroidered design. The perfect gift for sinophiles, you can choose from a selection of emperor fan designs at Zen Lifestore.
The perfect souvenir evokes a city's charms without shouting it from the rooftops. Some prefer mementos of the edible variety, made by a local artisan using only the best that the city has to offer. Others want a keepsake to remind themselves of where they've been. Depending on where your tastes lie, we've sourced some of the most unique, delicious, and notable souvenirs from Toronto, to remind you of the special metropolis long after you've left its vibrant embrace.
It's true, Canada is the number one producer of mustard seed in the world. A lot of it gets shipped to France, where it's turned into Dijon, but luckily, some of it stays put. And when it does, the fine folks at Kozlik's Canadian Mustard make quality mustards worthy of any gourmand's pantry, in more than 30 varieties. Purists will love the Triple Crunch, while the more adventurous may gravitate toward the Balsamic Figs and Dates.
A trip to Toronto wouldn't be complete without a stop to SOMA Chocolatemaker, where their Douglas Fir truffle will transport you to the heart of a Canadian pine forest. Or meander over to Kitten and The Bear for small batch preserves and jellies made onsite from mostly local, seasonal fruit, with a few tropical flourishes. The Black Plum and Earl Grey jam will elevate your toast; pair it with an exquisite cup of locally blended, organic Lemon Lily loose leaf tea. The green tea-based Cherry Blossom is tranquility in a cup.
Forget the "All I got was this lousy t-shirt" souvenir. Try a Tresnormale T-shirt on for size instead, depicting Toronto's iconographic "red rockets" (street cars), green commuter GoTrains with the CN Tower hovering in the distance, or wily raccoons perched atop one of the city's compostable bins. Cap it off with a city neighborhood hat, made from 100 percent Woolrich wool, to keep you cozy when the weather turns chilly.
Or pick up a snazzy pair of John Fluevog boots; the designer is a native Canuck. The 686 Newell men's brogue lace-up boot pays homage to the store on 686 Queen Street West. There's also he retro-chic 686 Dorothy, and open-heeled bootie in groovy shades, made of patent leather for her.
Others still may want an objet or keepsake. Consider a vintage repro print by Spacing of Toronto's subway lines or graphic neighborhood renditions to hang up in your living spaces. If you're an entertainer, laser-cut Birchwood Toronto coasters are stand-outs at a party, as are the cutting boards carved into the shape of the city's outline (we'd use this for a killer cheese plate with some well aged Canadian cheeses).
—Mary Luz Mejia
Sure, you could purchase the usual bottle of maple syrup from a tourist shop as a memento of your trip, but that bottle's not really from Vancouver—it's probably from Quebec—and there are more imaginative ways to bring back a piece of Vancouver with you. Here are five souvenirs to savor after you leave.
Also known as Indian candy, this is a protein-packed snack with a sweet coating. It's typically made from wild BC salmon that's been marinated in sugar, then smoked, giving the fish a charcuterie-type texture. You can pick up a pack at Granville Island, from vendors such as Finest at Sea, a sustainable seafood company in BC.
The Liberty Distillery
Vancouver is a drinking town. It takes its alcohol seriously, and spirits are no exception. The Liberty Distillery on Granville Island creates hand-crafted spirits entirely from local grain. The liquor goes through a triple distillation process in handmade copper stills. You can try their vodka, gin, and whiskey lines at the lounge, then decide which bottle to take home.
British Columbia takes pride in its homegrown, sophisticated wines that compete on an international level. Okanagan Valley is the area's primary winemaking region, and the best way to see a wide variety of local labels is to browse a BC Liquor Store for BC VQA wines, a labeling program that denotes the origin of the wines, and guarantees standards of quality. You can find a list of the 2015 BC VQA Wine Award winners here.
Visiting local craft breweries to get growlers filled is a local pastime. You might not want to take home a heavy growler of beer, but perhaps a souvenir bottle might interest you. "The Growler Craft Beer Handbook" lists all the local breweries in the area. You can go directly to a microbrewery to sample what they've got, or go to BC Liquor and check out the local beer selection.
Vancouverites love their coffee, and you'll see them hanging out in cafes throughout the day. While you won't see coffee grown in Vancouver, you will see locally roasted, artisanal coffee. For instance, 49th Parallel Roasters, which has a direct relationship with their coffee farmers, has a roaster in Burnaby, about a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver. They also have cafes in the Mount Pleasant and Kitsilano neighborhoods of the city.
There’s a seemingly endless supply of cheesy souvenirs lining the streets of downtown DC and the National Mall. But you don’t need to buy a fake FBI T-shirt to prove that you were in our nation’s capital. Here’s a look at some of the city’s best souvenirs celebrating its history, its beloved neighborhoods, and, crucially, all the great booze and brews. These are gifts that the locals love.
White House Christmas Ornaments
The White House Christmas Ornaments are a longstanding collectibles tradition in Washington, DC. Since 1981, the White House Historical Association has created a new ornament each year to celebrate various chapters of American presidential history. This year’s ornament depicts the lighting of the first-ever National Christmas Tree, presided over by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. Also, this is the first-ever ornament that comes equipped with LED lights so that you, too, can light up the National Christmas Tree.
The White House Historical Association runs gift shops both in the historic Decatur House on Lafayette Square, as well as at the National Park Service White House Visitor Center. You can also buy them online; $18.95.
DC Brau Tees
Why you should buy: One of the highest forms of expressing your Washington pride is embracing the “taxation without representation” motto printed on all the city’s license plates. Washingtonians are also exceedingly proud of DC’s burgeoning craft beer scene, which kickstarted a few years back with the launch of DC Brau. So it’s only fitting to grab a shirt that plays on both the iconic city flag as well as its logo, declaring: Fermentation Without Representation. Choose from a selection of t-shirts in the DC Brau tasting room or online; $20.
DC Statehood Glassware
You have to drink cocktails out of some vessel, so why not a beautiful piece of glassware etched with the outline of Washington, DC? Hill’s Kitchen has three different styles of DC statehood tumblers in stock, perfect for serving a drink made with Green Hat gin or any other local booze you pick up while in town. Buy at Hill’s Kitchen; call for price.
The International Spy Museum Store
The International Spy Museum has one of the best museum gift shops in town, thanks to the wide variety of spy gadgets, accessories, and apparel they have in stock. For kids, you can pick up an Ultimate Spy Kit with a night vision light, a UV spy pen, rearview glasses that enable you to see what’s behind you, and a motion detector. The museum store also offers t-shirts emblazoned with “Deny everything,” glasses with mustaches attached, and Rubik’s cubes that are actually safes. Purchase from the International Spy Museum; cost varies.
Cherry Blossom Creative’s DC Neighborhood Prints
The key to truly knowing and loving DC is to know its many neighborhoods. The designers at Cherry Blossom Creative have built a following with the release of their neighborhood prints, in which the streets of Adams Morgan, Logan Circle, Georgetown, Shaw, Columbia Heights, and more are colorfully rendered in a 13”x19” matte print. Buy online at http://shop.cherryblossomcreative.com; $20 each.