The Best Souvenir from Every State
More travels = more souvenirs. From Georgia peaches to Vermont maple syrup, these are the must-have mementos from each of the 50 states.
Alabama: Priester’s Pecans
Dessert in the South basically starts and ends with an ooey-gooey pecan pie. Especially in Alabama, where the pecan is the official state nut. While there are plenty of farms that pick and package pecans, perhaps the most famous is Priester’s, a family-run business that’s been supplying Alabama with its favorite nuts for over seven decades.
Alaska: Salmon jerky
Forget beef jerky—in Alaska, it’s all about the salmon jerky. Home to five different species of the flavorful fish (king, red, pink, silver, and chum), the northernmost state produces nearly one-third of the wild salmon consumed around the world. Bonus: Salmon is one of the seven healthiest fish you can eat.
Arizona: Saguaro cactus
The largest cactus in the United States, the saguaro cactus is found only in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Living to be up to 200 years old, the cacti, whose flower is also the state’s flower, are generally around 30 feet tall and can grow unlimited arms.
Arkansas: Duck call
Break out the camo—the Natural State is renowned for its abundant duck hunting, with 53,900 annual duck hunters shooting an average of about 21 birds, according to 2016 numbers. And if you visit in November, you can attend the World Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, complete with the annual Queen Mallard pageant.
California: Wine Guide
It isn’t called “Wine Country” for no reason. Northern California, specifically Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, produce over 60,000 registered wine labels, making vino the state’s most valuable agricultural product. If you’re looking for the most popular varietals, the top two frequently planted grapes are chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Since you can’t legally ship wine to all the states, this guide is a nice way to whet your palette.
Colorado: Ski hat
From Aspen to Vail to Breckenridge, Colorado is a ski lover’s paradise. Its 28 ski and snowboard resorts let you hit the slopes from October to April (the longest season in the country) and boat some of the biggest hills. If you’re searching for the perfect powder, these are the 11 best places to ski in the United States.
Connecticut: Gilmore Girls mug
Everyone’s favorite mother-daughter duo put Connecticut on the map with their love of junk food, coffee, and endless boy drama. After all, every fan knows that Lorelai and Rory Gilmore called Stars Hollow, Connecticut home. And while the fictional town may not exist in real life, these most beautiful main streets in America are the next best thing.
Delaware: Dogfish Head Beer
It may be a small state but Delaware is home to one of America’s most beloved beermakers: Dogfish Head. And unbeknownst to many, the beachside brewery actually had to overturn a historic state law that banned brewpubs in order to open their doors. Like Dogfish is in Delaware, these are the best craft beers in each of the 50 states.
Florida: Mickey Mouse ears
These states may be the happiest in the United States, but only Florida can lay claim to the Happiest Place on Earth. One of the big trends right now at Disney World is grown-up Mickey Mouse ears—aka fashionable headbands featuring the cute character’s iconic ears in every theme from donuts to mermaids.
Georgia: Peach jam
Ain’t nothing sweeter than Georgia peaches. And while the Southern state produces nearly 3 million bushels of the fuzzy fruit annually, earning it the nickname “The Peach State,” peach season only runs from mid-May to early August. Fortunately, you can enjoy the juicy goodness year-round with a jar of jam.
Hawaii: Kona coffee
Start your mornings off island-style with a cup of Kona coffee. Only grown in the volcanic soil of Hawaii, this particular type of bean makes a highly aromatic brew with a rich yet mild flavor. If you’re someone who needs caffeine (in Kona form or otherwise), here are 11 ways to make your coffee habit healthier.
Idaho: Spud Candy Bar
Mashed, fried, boiled, baked…no matter which way you make them, Idahoans love potatoes. And so does the rest of the country. While Idaho is the largest producer of potatoes, the average American eats nearly 124 pounds of spuds each year. OK, so the Idaho Spud Candy Bar only looks like a potato, but it’s still pretty dang tasty.
Illinois: Deep dish pizza cutter
You can’t go to Chicago without indulging in one of the cheesiest, chunkiest, sauciest slices of pie you’ll ever eat. First served in 1943 by Pizzeria Uno, deep-dish pizza is a Chicago tradition that will never get old. The next time it’s pizza night at your house, switch it up with one of these creative topping combinations and use this rocking pizza cutter to serve clean-cut slices.
“Basketball may have been invented in Massachusetts, but it was made for Indiana.” That’s what the inventor of the sport, James Naismith, said, given Indiana’s obsession with shooting hoops. Need proof? The Hoosier State is one of the five states that produce the most NBA players per capita and has its fair share of talented NCAA teams (hello, Notre Dame!). Which makes the best gift from Indiana a basketball, like this one emblazoned with the famous Fighting Irish’s logo.
You have Iowa to thank for your favorite movie snack. Part of the “Corn Belt,” the Midwestern state is known for its abundance of popcorn plants in particular which, yes, are different than regular corn in that the popcorn ears have a thicker hull. Here’s how to make homemade microwave popcorn.
The state flower since 1903, sunflowers are at their biggest and brightest in early fall. There are more than ten species of the beautiful blooms in Kansas, where they’ve flourished in the dry soil and sun-soaked skies.
Kentucky: Bourbon balls
Whether you like it neat, on the rocks, or stirred into an old-fashioned, there are plenty of ways to savor Kentucky’s crown jewel. And while you may have known that bourbon is primarily made in the Bluegrass State (it produces 95 percent of the world’s supply), you may not have known that it’s also the only spirit that’s native to the United States as declared by Congress in the 1960s. A case of bourbon balls makes a special sweet treat.
Louisiana: Mardi Gras mask
Let the good times roll—even after you leave Louisiana—with a Mardi Gras memento. Not only is Fat Tuesday the largest masked celebration in North America but the people who actually participate in the famous Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans are required by law to wear masks, which isn’t the only strange law in the United States.
Maine: Lobster cracker
When you think of Maine, you likely think of lobsters (or should we say, “lobstahs”). That’s because there are more of the coveted crustaceans off the coast of Maine than there are anywhere else in the world. And if you aren’t willing to pay the hefty price tag of shipping live lobsters, opt for a claw cracker instead to use the next time you dig in.
Maryland: Old Bay Seasoning
“Crab cakes and football—that’s what Maryland does!” according to Wedding Crashers. And it’s that seafood savvy that makes Old Bay such a staple in the state. The blend of 18 different spices is made with the original 75-year-old recipe and is sprinkled (well, poured) on steamed crabs, shrimp, fish, and more. Even if you don’t have Old Bay, you can whip up one of these 36 delicious seafood recipes.
Massachusetts: Red Sox gear
Boston baseball fans are arguably some of the most passionate in the country. After all, who can forget 2004 when the “curse of the Bambino,” the 86 years during which the Red Sox never won the World Series, was ended with a historic victory? The next time you’re at the ball game, like iconic Fenway Park watching the famous Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
Michigan: Car figurine
Detroit may not be the official capital of Michigan but it is the unofficial “Car Capital of the World.” Along with giving birth to the auto industry’s “Big Three” (Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors), Motor City also started things like the car manufacturing assembly line, electric car starters, and car payment plans back in the 1920s. Since a car is a bit extreme for a souvenir, a Ford figurine will do just as well.
Minnesota: Picnic basket
The land of 10,000 lakes is also the land of 10,000 picnic spots. Because for every lake in Minnesota, there’s a scenic spot to set up camp for a relaxing afternoon in the sun with this picnic basket, which is not only insulated but also comes with four sets of dinnerware.
Mississippi: Steamboat pin
Riding a boat is fun. But riding an authentic steamboat down the Mississippi River? Even better—and a one-of-a-kind experience you can only get down South. While the paddlewheelers today are just used for leisure, during the 19th century, they were an important invention that helped transport cargo and people from point to point along the massive river. This pin pays tribute to that heritage.
Missouri: Budweiser koozies
Budweiser beer is Missouri’s not-so-best-kept secret as the Anheuser-Busch Brewery has been in St. Louis since 1852—and yes, the Clydesdales are there, too. You can tour the plant to see how your favorite beer is made or toss back a cold one in the Biergarten before snagging one of these boozy beverage-holders to go.
Montana: Huckleberry gummy bears
Georgia has peaches, Maine has blueberries, and Montana has huckleberries. Similar in appearance to blueberries, the bright berries (which can be red or blue) grow in the upper elevations of the Montana mountains and have a tart, semi-sweet flavor when ripe. Eat them fresh, preserve them in jam, or chow down on some huckleberry gummy bears.
Nebraska: Oregon Trail computer game
That popular computer game you used to play in elementary school actually has some historical significance, particularly when it comes to Nebraska. That’s because one of the state’s biggest destinations is Chimney Rock, which also happens to be one of the landmarks of the Oregon Trail. And similar to Chimney Rock in Nebraska, these are the most popular attractions in every state across the country.
Nevada: Poker set
What happens here doesn’t have to stay in Vegas—aka treat yourself to a gambling-related gift so you can remember your stay in Sin City. And if poker isn’t your thing, opt for a blackjack set instead (bonus: this set can be used for poker, blackjack, and Texas hold ’em). Blackjack just so happens to be the game with the best odds, along with these other games to play if you don’t want to lose.
New Hampshire: Cider donuts
Autumn in New Hampshire means apple orchards and fall foliage…but more importantly, it means fresh cider donuts. The state specialty tastes like pillows of cinnamon, apple-flavored dough fried to crispy, chewy perfection and is best enjoyed with a mug of fresh-squeezed hot cider.
New Jersey: Coffee mug
A coffee mug may seem like a basic buy but it surprisingly has a lot of meaning when it comes to New Jersey—because it’s the diner capital of the world. Fill up on standard diner fare like breakfast all day, then ask if you can filch one of the thick-rimmed mugs that those 24/7 joints are known for. Bonus points if it’s in retro bubblegum pink.
New Mexico: Green chile sauce
There’s one thing every good authentic New Mexican restaurant has in common: they have green hatch chile somewhere on the menu. The popular pepper is actually from the same plant as the red chile pepper but it’s picked before it’s fully ripe. You’ll love this sauce on eggs, enchiladas, stews, basically everything! If you love spicy things, you’re in luck—here are 9 lesser-known health benefits of eating hot foods.
New York: “I Heart NY” shirt
The cliche white T-shirt with “I [red heart] NY” in bold font on the front is so cheesy that it’s ironically trendy. And not only that, but it’s almost a rite of passage for first time Big Apple visitors. Because if you don’t have one of those shirts, did you even come to NYC? While you’re visiting, hunt down one of these 11 hidden gems that even locals don’t know about.
North Carolina: Barbecue
North Carolina barbecue isn’t just finger-lickin’ good. It’s mouth-watering, napkin-needing, gut-busting, seconds-ordering good. The secret is in the sauce, which you’ll want to grab one (or two… or three) bottles of to take home for your own backyard BBQ. Tip: True North Carolina barbecue sauce is vinegar-based and typically has some combination of ketchup, brown sugar, and molasses or honey.
North Dakota: Cowboy hat
Home on the range is a pretty accurate description of North Dakota, where ranching and homesteading is a way of life. Live as the locals do under the shade of a big-brimmed shapeable Dakota cowboy hat, which you can find at almost every store in town. It’s perfect attire for the North Dakota State Fair or any of these best fairs from each state across the United States.
Ohio: Skyline Chili
Cincinnati chili is unlike any chili you’ve ever had—it’s more of a meat sauce that’s served over spaghetti or on a hot dog (which is known as a coney). If you put your chili on pasta, you can keep it “two-way” (meaning just pasta and chili) or go “three-way” with cheese, “four-way” with cheese and onion, or even “five-way” with beans.
Oklahoma: Rustic-chic decor
Here’s the thing: many of the homes and businesses in Oklahoma may indeed have a farmhouse chic vibe but it’s not as much about the look as it is about the feel. Because Midwestern hospitality is a real—and very welcoming—thing. Sprinkle your own sunny spirit around your house with a hospitable hanging like this one.
Pennsylvania: Amish quilt
Pennsylvania may not have the largest Amish community (that honor goes to Ohio!) but it does have the oldest. Which means that since the 1800s, each new generation of women has been crafting some of the most stunning, handmade quilts you’ll ever see. Perfect for curling up with a book, you can order them custom or buy one straight from the farm.
Rhode Island: Clam cookbook
New England as a whole is known for its super fresh seafood with each state having its own specialty. Rhode Island’s is clams…more specifically, the clam shack. These casual eateries serve up quahogs (the state shellfish) in everything from fried clams to Rhode Island-style clam chowder which has a clear broth base. This cookbook helps to bring all those flavors home.
South Carolina: Tailgate tools
In the South, Saturdays mean one thing: College football. Whether you’re cheering on the USC Gamecocks or the Clemson Tigers, everyone gears up for game day with over-the-top tailgates featuring grills galore, bowties and sun hats, and plenty of cornhole for a little friendly competition. This football-themed set will be the hit of your party.
South Dakota: Mount Rushmore sculpture
South Dakota may not seem like the likely residence for four of America’s most influential presidents but that’s exactly where they’re found. Well, it’s where their carvings are found, on the side of Mount Rushmore. And since a picture won’t do the granite masterpiece justice, pick up a smaller sculpture of the four famous faces to remember the piece of history you got to see.
Tennessee: Country music album
No trip to Tennessee is really complete without a stop in Nashville. And while Music City embraces all genres, country music is the real heart and soul of the whole state. Take a stroll down Broadway to listen to some of the live bands and artists, then pick your favorite and purchase an album—our pick is this multiple Grammy winner from Kacey Musgraves.
Texas: Cowboy boots
Yee-haw! Cowboy culture is alive and well in Texas and there’s no better—or more common—way to show off your Lone Star State pride than with a pair of top-quality cowboy boots. Browse any of the hundreds of boot shops dotting the state, where you’ll find everything from plain brown leather to bright turquoise with jeweled accents.
Utah: Topaz necklace
Topaz isn’t just November’s birthstone—it’s also the state gem of Utah. While many people think of topaz as being blue, it’s actually naturally a yellow-golden hue. Then, when it’s heated and prepped to make jewelry, it turns a stunning shade of sky blue. Some people even believe that wearing topaz, like this pendant necklace, can improve your eyesight or increase your strength.
Vermont: Maple syrup
Nothing beats pancakes drenched in pure maple syrup, especially if that syrup is from Vermont. The New England state is the largest producer of the sticky stuff in the United States. And that’s quite an accomplishment given how much time and effort it takes. Just to get one gallon, growers need about 40 gallons of sap, which is the equivalent of what four trees produce in a year.
Virginia: Smithfield ham
Country ham is a true Southern delicacy. And there’s nowhere that makes it better than the tiny town of Smithfield, also known as the ham capital of the world. Slices of the smoked, dry-cured pork that is Smithfield ham are best eaten between two halves of a fluffy buttermilk biscuit.
Washington: Starbucks coffee
Serious about Starbucks? You may want to plan a trip to Seattle, where you can order a Frappuccino at the very first mermaid-branded store. Built in 1971 and located in Pike Place Market, the first location actually only sold beans, not coffee drinks. But if you’re looking to save money on your daily drive-through run, here are 13 secrets Starbucks employees won’t tell you.
West Virginia: Apple butter
Every October, people come from all over the East coast to attend the annual Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs. Brewed in massive copper kettles in the town square, the apple butter is made from local fruit and flavored with all of your favorite seasonal spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Take a jar home with you to eat smeared on toast in the morning.
The infamous cheesehead hats may be, well, cheesy but they’re one of the most Wisconsin things you could pack up in your suitcase at the end of a trip. Your other (edible) option is to simply purchase a block or two of the state’s famous fromage.
Wyoming: Rodeo spurs
You may not be riding any bulls or barrel racing a mustang any time soon but a set of souvenir spurs is a fun way to take a piece of the Wyoming rodeo circuit with you. After all, spending a day in the stands at the Cheyenne Frontier Rodeo days is the state’s top bucket list item (these are the must-dos and must-visits for the other 49 states). Even if you don’t ride horses, these would make for a stylish tchotchke on your bookshelf.
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