If you’re like me, you always leave a little extra room in your suitcase when leaving for vacation. Why? For goodies to bring home, of course! Parents and siblings surely need something, and you might even try to win favour with your boss by bringing them a trinket from your trip.
Finding the right souvenirs can be a little tricky, though. If you’re a fan of going off the beaten path and are looking for something truly memorable, a standard gift shop will not suffice.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that Chicagoans love their city flag. We like to show it off and put it on almost any item imaginable! Conceptually, this is a great place to start if you’re looking for a memento, but Chicago’s art scene is not limited to the flag.
From photographs of classic Chicago scenes to candles that incorporate local scents, there are plenty of options for emblematic souvenirs. Here are a few ideas:
1. Rep Chi
When you walk into Rep Chi in the Portage Park neighbourhood, you’ll immediately be greeted by a wide variety of Chicago-related items. Voted Most Loved Shop by Time Out Chicago, this is certainly a stop you should make on your quest to find the most unique gift.
Photo credit: Rep Chi
2. Local Goods Chicago
Located on the far northwest side of the city, Local Goods Chicago offers handmade items by creative locals. They sell some tasty treats along with candles, jewellery and even collars with the Chicago flag on them!
3. Andersonville Galleria
If you’re seeking a variety of options, look no further than Andersonville Galleria. The large, multi-floor space hosts approximately 90 vendors, several of which offer numerous Chicago-themed crafts. It’s located in the centre of this cool North Side neighbourhood. Be prepared to browse!
4. Transit Tees
Windy City locals both love and hate the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The CTA holds a special place in our hearts, and when visiting Chicago, you may become familiar with these feelings as well.
To ride the “El” around the Loop is a beautiful way to experience the city, so what better way to commemorate your travels than with a gift that’s representative of your CTA experience? Transit Tees has CTA-themed items – from coffee mugs to greeting cards – that will keep your transit memories alive forever.
Photo credit: Transit Tees
5. Chicago Architecture Foundation Store
If you’re planning on staying downtown, it may be hard to find locally made goods and souvenirs. While I always recommend exploring a few of Chicago’s 77 neighbourhoods, I understand the time constraints of exploring a whole city.
If you want to get away from the typical souvenir shops, the Chicago Architecture Foundation Store is a great place to look. Located on Michigan Avenue, it’s worth a stop and it’s also a great organisation to support!
Bonus: Tea’se Tea Shoppe Monthly Market
If you’re in town and looking for even more variety, check out the Tea’se Tea Shoppe monthly pop-up market. Local artisans come to sell candles, scarves, jewellery, photographs and more. Every month brings new crafters and items, so it’s sure to be everyone’s cup of tea!
Jaclyn Crawford is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, Illinois. She loves playing badminton, hosting Airbnb guests, spending time with her dog, Sundae, and going thrift shopping with her husband.
Opening photo credit: Transit Tees