Top 15 California Souvenirs
Buying gifts on your holiday can always seem tedious, but what if you could make it fun by exploring new places and finding something unique that your friends and family will love and thank you for your California Souvenirs.
Although you’ll have plenty of beach-view hotels and unique vacation rentals in Cali, consider heading to airside rentals across the state to pick up some of these top California souvenirs.
You might not find fridge magnets or bumper stickers on this list, but we hope you’ll find something special.
Route 66 License Plate
Route 66 is famous for shortening travel time from Los Angeles to Chicago. Here, you can enjoy a long, scenic drive and find small towns with old-fashioned charm.
Along the picturesque route, you can also find several diners worth checking out if you want to enjoy an authentic American meal.
As this is an iconic highway in California, it may be worth buying a Route 66 license plate as a souvenir. You can purchase this item and other Route 66 products at the Route 66 Museum Store.
Cactus Cooler Orange-Pineapple Soda
Originating in Southern California, the Cactus Cooler is an orange-pineapple-flavored carbonated beverage manufactured by Keurig Dr. Pepper.
Its label featured red, yellow, and green hues reminiscent of the colors of the Sonoran Desert. While it’s mostly sold online, you can find the drink in some physical stores in Southern California and other nearby Southwestern states, making it an ideal souvenir.
You can visit a Walmart Supercenter in Long Beach to purchase this unique soda.
Saltwater Taffy from the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz
Some confusing souvenirs, but one I bought the other day is salt water taffy. Why is it confusing? Well, it’s not made of salt water, and I had to google what the word ‘taffy’ meant before buying it.
So, let me be your Google: Saltwater taffy is made from sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerin, water, butter, salt, natural and artificial flavoring, and food coloring.
A ‘taffy’ is a chewy candy. Okay, so now we know what they are that may not sound so important, but they are delicious and also a ‘must buy’ souvenir from the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
Saltwater taffy production began on the Boardwalk in 1915, and while the scenery may have changed, the taffy hasn’t. I particularly like that they are still wrapped by a model Kiss wrapping machine purchased in the 1920s. Historic and tasteful, it is the perfect souvenir.
Unique Golden State Coffee
There are many unique coffee roasters up and down California, but one of the best has to be Verve in Santa Cruz. They have such a range of flavors that they always make my mouth water, and my coffee-loving friends are always after a packet.
They’re so popular that they even have a certified Instagram account! With 16 different flavors for you to choose from can feel a bit stuck, so they have solved the issue for you and have introduced the ‘Adventurer’s Pack,’ which includes 6 different varieties to sample. A perfect gift and one of the best gifts from California you can give.
Chocolate Candy Gift Set from Los Angeles
Another traditional candy for the list, this time it’s chocolate, and it can be none other than See Chocolate from Los Angeles.
These chocolates, manufactured since 1921, still follow the traditional making methods that Mary C. started, and the taste is excellent; why change something when it’s already perfect?
There are now 200 shops across the US, so if you’re looking for things to shop in California, be sure to pick up some chocolate from here to take home as a souvenir for your loved ones – if you can.
Garlic, garlic, garlic, and maybe more garlic
Please wait a minute; you might think I’ve lost the plot; maybe I have because I like garlic. Luckily for me, there is a place called Gilroy in California that is obsessed with garlic; it even has a garlic festival in the summer.
My favorite thing is garlic ice cream, but it can be hard to buy as a souvenir, so instead of garlic ice cream, why not grab a garlic cookbook, garlic oil, or even a garlic-scented candle from Gilroy City Mercantile?
Redwood Growing Kit from Muir Woods of Northern California
Muir Woods is located in California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just north of San Francisco. This spectacular redwood forest is popular for its amazing trails, views, and unique history.
So if you are looking for a romantic thing to do with your partner, consider this place as people from all over the world visit Muir Wood and its redwood trees.
There are many redwood pockets along the west coast of the United States, which contain some of the largest trees in the world. So, one of the best souvenirs from California is a redwood seed germination kit direct from Muir Woods Trading Company.
Now everyone can do their part to help restore the original pristine coast redwood forest, about 95% of which has been logged. Remember, a tree is for life, not just for Christmas.
Buy a souvenir and help the bee crisis
We love the people behind Backyard Bees, that offer a much happier alternative to exterminating unwanted bees on your property. They remove the bees without any harmful chemicals and move them to an environment where they, and you, will be happier.
Not only will you get a chance to take home some of the best honey in the Orange County area as a souvenir, but you’ll also be doing your small part to combat the global bee crisis; it looks like a win/win to us!
You can pick up a copy of their honey at Whole Foods Market in Brea, and while you’re there.
Decline the Beans
Finally, a silly one to end our list; Reject Beans. After completing the free tour, you can pick up a bag of rejected jellybeans directly from the Fairfield factory.
We love that these are available, which also means less food waste than from the factory—a great souvenir for the kids.
Historic Route 66 License Plate
Nothing says holiday for Uncle Sam like a Route 66 license plate. Route 66 is one of America’s most famous roads and one of the first original highways. The road extends from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.
Since you’re making your way through the Golden State, a souvenir plate with ‘California Route 66’ is only fitting. Look for them when you stop at a souvenir shop. Instead of going to the checkout counter with a magnet, get one of these!
A bottle of wine from Napa Valley
Which Napa Valley winery to support? Okay, so it would be hard to tell you which bottle to buy as a souvenir, but you can read my previous blog, ‘The Top Twelve Wineries in St Helena,’ which should help you decide.
Besides, the only real way to know if you’re getting a great wine souvenir is to go to Napa Valley and taste them all yourself… God, it’s such a tough life sometimes. However, wines from California’s wine country make great gifts, so pick up a bottle or two!
A Taste of History with Anchor Steam
We already have a bottle of brew on this list, so it would be rude not to include a delicious traditional IPA as a souvenir option. Our favorite choice has to be Anchor Steam for two reasons.
First, it tastes delicious, and second, it is one of the oldest breweries in America, launched in San Francisco in 1896. Did you know it’s so famous that Anchor Steam has its dedicated week?
Since 2015, the third week of August has been ‘Drink Steam Week’ as declared by the San Francisco mayor. Who are we to say no to that? Grab your beer and your souvenirs, and enjoy!
Tie-dye anything from the world-famous Haight Street
Years ago, the Haight Ashbury area was the center of hippie culture, with people like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin calling it home.
For many, it still is, with its unique shops, fabulous record stores, interesting street characters, art with purpose, and free events. The colors and sounds of the ’60s still emanate from the pavement, but with a new twist on the walk by tie-dye mixed with Burning Man-style attire.
Make your weekend trip extra colorful by paying homage to the era and region with a tie-dye souvenir from any shop along the street.
Beautiful beaches and delicious food aren’t the only things to be discovered in California. We hope we have helped inspire you to find the perfect gift for your loved ones!
From north to south and redwood tree growing kits to reject jelly beans, we’ve covered a list of the top California souvenirs we think are unique. Have you found something that deserves to be on our list? Remember to comment below with your thoughts!
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