Musings of a Museum Fanatic: Chicago Souvenirs and Gifts

11.11.2019

Chicago Souvenirs and Gifts

What’s one of the best parts about a trip? The souvenirs you bring home! Chicago has some truly excellent options for Chicago themed gifts and locally made treasures. Plus we're almost to that time of year where we give lots of gifts. Here are my favorite places for the perfect Chicago souvenir and gift for your Chicago fanatic.


Museum Stores

I always think a museum store is the perfect place for the perfect souvenir. You’ll find not only items relating to that museum but fantastic items relating to the city you’re in as well as unique one of a kind items. Chicago’s museums are no different! They are full of great items to bring home for your family and friends or to remember your trip by. Most of the big museums have their stores online too so if you regret talking yourself out of a certain souvenir there is a chance you can find it online later! These are my two top picks for best museum stores but you can find all sorts of hidden treasures at all the Chicago area museum stores, like the Arlington Heights museum is making their own pop, don't count any museum store out. 

You’ll find souvenirs and gifts of every imaginable topic here. They have shops scattered throughout the museum as well as having an offsite location at O’Hare airport. The little ones throughout the museum are specialized to whatever exhibit they’re near like the SUE store right next to the T. Rex’s home or the gift shop for the big special exhibit that’s at the Field Museum right now. I personally like to head to the main shop by the South Entrance. You’ll find the really cool items in this main shop. This is where all of the beautiful jewelry is and their extensive book shop are located. You can even get beer and liquor that’s created by the Field Museum!

I love the Art Institute of Chicago stores. They’re full of amazing and unique gifts inspired by pieces in the collection. I think some of my favorite items are the fun and beautiful game items like the Warhol Dominos and different puzzles depicting paintings. If you’ve ever seen a photo of the Art Institute of Chicago you’ll usually see a photo containing the lions. I love that they have a whole line of items with the lions featured on them. From socks to ties the lions are iconic Art Institute so they should be on your souvenir must get list. Plus you’ll find holiday items throughout the year so you’ll want to stop in or check their online store often.

Chicago food & drink

A lot of people don’t think about Chicago being a place for food but let me tell you we’ve got tons of great food souvenirs. I mean come on we’re the capital of hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, candy and beer, what more do you need?!

Garrett’s is the go to for most people when it comes to getting your Chicago popcorn fix. You’ll want to make sure to pick up a bag of the Garrett Mix®, the combination of caramel corn and cheddar cheese makes up the iconic Chicago duo. This is a must have for anyone visiting Chicago. So be sure to grab some to enjoy while you’re visiting and some to take home. From huge tins to small packages there’s a size for every appetite and budget. With 8 locations in the Loop as well as various locations at O’Hare and two suburban locations you really have no excuse to stop by.

Nuts on Clark
My personal favorite for popcorn is Nuts on Clark. You can find them in the airports and Union Station along with the original Nuts on Clark up in Wrigleyville. Like with Garrett’s you’ll want to make sure to get the iconic caramel and cheddar popcorn but I love their buttered popcorn too. You can smell it once you get off the train and all through your walk to the doors. I always find it’s a good last minute pick up when we arrive at the airport for the family member who is picking us up or if we need to bring along a gift to where we’re going.

Frango Mints
You’ll find these iconic mints at Macy’s on State Street. These Chicago staples were made iconic by Marshall Field’s. You can find the original flavor along with at least half a dozen unique flavors and other Frango treats at Macy’s on State Street. If you’re visiting family elsewhere in the area you can find the original flavor at other local Macy’s stores! While you’re grabbing your souvenir box at Macy’s be sure to enjoy desserts made with the mints up in the Walnut Room. The Frango Mint Ice Cream Pie is to die for.

Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza
We already know I'm in the Lou Malnati's pizza is the best Chicago deep dish camp. My favorite part about this Chicago staple is that you can get frozen pizzas to go. If you're visiting someone in the area and need a thank you gift this is the perfect place to grab one. Know a displaced Chicagoan who has been missing home? You can actually send them a Lou's pizza through the mail. Plus you can always send yourself a little treat or a souvenir the same way. What a good way to remember your trip a few times throughout the year?

All Chicago Gifts

Like any good souvenir you must leave the city with something that says Chicago. Whether it contains the Chicago flag or the map of the L you just must. Here are my picks for top places to find that perfect item that is just so Chicago.

Transit Tees

If you're looking for anything Chicago branded Transit Tees is the place to go. They smack you in the face with Chicago but in a cool I want everything in this store way. From their new El: The Chicago Transit Adventure game to Chicago Style Hot Dogs Socks that you didn't realize you needed in your life.

Local Goods Chicago

Are you more of a handmade gifts type of person? Check out Local Goods Chicago they're all about locally handcrafted, one of a kind gifts. I'm a big fan of the simple elegant beauty of the Chicago Flag Necklace. They have some great consumable gifts like the Chicago In Transit soap bars although I feel like people who have ridden the L would argue with the scents being correct!
I know you'd think I would put the Chicago History Museum up in my museum stores section. It was a tough decision. Ultimately they have one of the best stores to get some pretty great Chicago swag so down here they are. You can order online but really the store at the museum has waaaaaay more in it than what's online. My favorite item was my lovely hot dog magnet. While they have all sorts of decor and clothing items I love the fact that they have a stellar Chicago book selection. I think they must carry every book that's currently in print relating to Chicago. I've discovered so many great reads through the shop. 



Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

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