1. Local art print or postcard to frame - This particular print is a favorite from Minted, the online marketplace of independent designers (headquartered in SF), which now has a brick and mortar location in Lower Pacific Heights. While I’d recommend stopping by the Minted store for general inspiration, there are plenty of great local artists and studios you should venture off the beaten track for. One of my favorites is 3 Fish Studios in the Outer Sunset. You might recognize their California bear hug prints or the iconic 49 Mile Drive sign. Noteify is another locally inspired brand of art prints that you can find at most card and gift shops throughout the city.
2. Candle with a San Francisco scent - Candles are a fun souvenir because you’re likely to actually use them rather than sticking them on a bookshelf to collect dust. Since scent is closely linked to memory, burning the candle may also trigger fond memories of your time in SF (like a hike through Redwoods) or even just the adventure of tracking down the perfect scent to embody your trip.
3. Local coffee beans - There is no shortage of delicious (and pretty) coffee shops in San Francisco. By now you’re probably familiar with Blue Bottle, which was started by a freelance musician in Oakland in the early 2000s and was recently acquired by Nestle. Some other great options that you’re less likely to encounter back home, and have tasty coffee that would make for great souvenirs, include Sightglass, Equator, Ritual, Réveille, and Wrecking Ball. If you find one you really enjoy, consider treating yourself to a coffee subscription.
4. An album or book to add to your collection - This idea is more about “the journey” than the final purchase. Of course you can order a record or book from any online retailer, but there’s something very San Francisco about scouring the local shops (like 101 Music in North Beach, pictured above, or the iconic City Lights Bookstore) and chatting with the owners that will make this a memorable keepsake.
5. Vintage treasures - Venture off the beaten track and explore the secondhand stores in the Haight or some of San Francisco’s best flea markets for a truly one of a kind token to remember your trip by. If you’re lucky enough to be in town on the first full weekend of the month, wake up early on Sunday morning and head to Alameda Point Antiques Faire to hunt for treasures like vintage rugs, hand woven baskets, brass trinkets, and mud-cloth textiles.
6. Ceramics - Purchasing a quality piece of decorative pottery from a local studio like Heath Ceramics is another great option for commemorating your trip to San Francisco while also supporting the local artists that make it the inspiring creative hub it is.
If your souvenir budget is tight, keep an eye out for complimentary matchbooks from restaurants you visit to stick on your coffee table to remember your trip http://www.alamedapointantiquesfaire.com/by. And if you’re looking for something affordable to bring back for a large group of friends or colleagues, swing by the Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown and grab a bag of delicious fortune cookies to share.
I'd love to hear, what are your favorite unique souvenir ideas?