Don't leave the Windy City without picking up a sweet souvenir to remember the trip. Whether you're buying for yourself or are on the hunt for a friend or family, these stores and specialty shops will have just what you're looking for.
FOR ART & DESIGN ENTHUSIASTS
Chicago's world-class museums are filled with cultural treasures, and their gift shops are no exception. From artful mementos to decorate the home to practical pieces to wear and use, the selection and quality is stellar.
- At the Museum of Contemporary Art Store, pick up statement items, many relating to current and past exhibits, like a handmade jeweled necklace, a Jeff Koons Rabbit Magnet, or a Rubik's Cube Pepper Mill.
- At the Art Institute of Chicago Museum Shop, simple items like bookends and umbrellas are works of art in themselves.
- At the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Museum Shop (as well as the Robie House Museum Shop and ShopWright at The Rookery), design elements from the architect's signature prairie style is applied in beautiful fashion to everything small to large, from coasters to bird houses to dining tables.
Add another cutie to the family with an American Girl doll from American Girl Place Chicago at Water Tower Place. Whether you adopt a popular doll like Marie-Grace or customize one to look just like your own child, these dolls are a delightful reminder of one of the most memorable shopping experiences a child can have.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation, has dozens upon dozens of tours, lectures and exhibits that showcase the city's stunning achievements. And the retail shop is teeming with gift ideas for the budding builder (and architecture buffs of all ages) as well. Look for keepsakes such as Tiffany Stained Glass coloring books for the Crayola-aged set, while the craftier kids might like the LEGO: Willis Tower, a skyscraper model that is part of the Architecture Landmark series
FOR FOOD LOVERS
The deep-dish Chicago pizza is as iconic as it gets. One look at the deep, round buttery crust filled to the brim with cheese and topped with a thick layer of tomato sauce and you'll know where it's from. Bring home this Chicago staple from the family-owned and operated favorite, Lou Malnati's, where frozen pizzas made from scratch according to the original five-decades-old recipes are ready to go, or can be shipped directly for your convenience.
A now-global gourmet popcorn shop, Garrett Popcorn is a Chicago must, popping tins of handmade popcorn blended with secret family recipes. The result? An irresistible taste of Chicago. With 10 locations in the city - including O'Hare Airport, Navy Pier and the heart of the Magnificent Mile - you're never too far from a Garrett Popcorn and that indelible aroma coming from the shop. Try the sweet-and-salty Chicago mix, a finger-licking combination of CaramelCrisp® and sharp-cheddar CheeseCornTM.
Chicago's history as a melting pot of cultures shines brightly at The Spice House. This favorite of the Old Town neighborhood honors the city's many ethnic communities through its delicious seasonings. Varieties of the Chicago Neighborhood Blends include the Bronzeville "Galena Street" Rib Rub, the Old Taylor Street Cheese Sprinkle representing Little Italy, and the Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper Butcher's Rub, a tribute to the home of the stockyards. Pick out individual shakers for your favorite cook or grab a gift box complete with a map of Chicago's neighborhoods.
Chicago has a sweet history as well, with a colorful past rooted in the candy industry. Big names such as Brach, Fannie Mae and Wrigley established the city as the "Candy Capital of the World" while tasty treats such as Tootsie Rolls and Lemonheads are still bringing smiles to people around the world. For the sweet tooth, bring back some Chicago confections from:
- Blommer Chocolate Company: the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America has a retail outlet shop at its West Loop factory.
- Vosges Haut-Chocolat: swank boutiques sell the luxury chocolate maker's exotic combinations.
- Macy's on State Street: beloved bite-sized Frango Mints, the melt-in-your-mouth signature sweet from department store Marshall Field & Co., are a Chicago tradition dating back from 1918 and are still sold here.
- Candyality: a sugar emporium with a great mix of off-the-wall novelties and retro goodies, as well as specialty gift sets like My Kinda Town, featuring all Chicago made products.
FOR SPORTS FANS
Cubs or Sox? Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks? It doesn't matter at Clark Street Sports, a local favorite with locations that include Shops at North Bridge just off Michigan Avenue. From autographed items to authentic jerseys and cozy sweatshirts, there are great collector's items and souvenirs for every sports fan to remember Chicago by.
If you can't make it to a game, you can also find a huge selection of sports memorabilia and team-branded merchandise from all the Chicago teams online at GreatChicagoGifts.com.
FOR ANYONE & EVERYONE
At the Chicago History Museum Shop, choose between clever souvenirs (think the Obama Birth Certificate Serving Tray) and unique gifts (like Tru Blooms Chicago Perfume made from local flower gardens), plus classic Chicago mementos like ornaments, mugs and tshirts.
Seasonal street fairs, festivals and markets are filled with trinkets, locally-made goods and cultural souvenirs that make perfect mementos and gifts.
- At Randolph Street Market, discover an incredible range of merchandise from multiple vendors - timeless estate jewelry, vintage home wares, antique collectibles and more.
- At Christkindlmarket each holiday season, pick up handcrafted Bavarian ornaments or pretty pashmina scarves from quaint shops set up in Daley Plaza.
- And at the Merchandise Mart's One of a Kind Show & Sale, purchase artistic creations like stationary, gourmet foods and glass sculptures.