Unique gift from California
May 21, 2012 11:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for unique gifts/souvenirs from California for my sisters and girlfriend (all in their 20s) and for my parents. I'm traveling the length of the state so almost any location would work. I would prefer to spend $50 or less on each gift but I have some flexibility. Local/unique items or something specific to California would be perfect! Food can work but must be nonperishable as I have lots of driving to do.
posted by Imago to Travel & Transportation around California (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend some dates and date shake mix from the Palm Springs area.
posted by Garm at 11:55 PM on May 21, 2012

Hangar One in Alameda (Bay Area) makes some awesome liquors. Buelleton has an ostrich farm where you can buy whole eggs.

821 Valencia in SF is a pirate supply store and has lots of McSweeney's and other swag. Nearby is Paxton Gate which sells animal skeletons, pinned insects, and bromeliads.
posted by benzenedream at 12:08 AM on May 22, 2012

Bay area stuff:

If you go to Muir Woods, you can get a burl chunk and grow your own tiny redwoods.

Tommy from Car Talk didn't like Muir Woods, but most folks seem to love it.

You an also get the ubiquitous mystery spot bumper sticker, just for taking the tour.

In San Francisco there are fortune cookies in Chinatown at varying levels of naughtiness. There are also tea shops there with these really cool tea pods that bloom in your teapot.

St George sprits has lots of unique booze, and you get dog tags for going on the tour.

Can you tell I've had to entertain my folks a lot out here?
posted by poe at 12:13 AM on May 22, 2012

From California to where? Just as a frame of reference.
posted by rhizome at 12:38 AM on May 22, 2012

Wine is a good gift. You can get salt water taffy at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz (as long as you're doing the Mystery Spot.)

As for the rest of it, I've never understood the need to bring souveniers to people who weren't on the trip. But hey, it takes all kinds.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2012

There are many things that could mean "California" to someone, so you could do anything from a mini Hollywood sign (Southern Cal), to dates or prunes (Central Valley), to surfboard keychain fobs (multiple towns claim to be the first "Surf City"), to redwood trees, to artichoke-(Castroville) or garlic-shaped (Gilroy) candles, to wine from Napa or Sonoma, to shot glasses with Cable Cars/Alcatraz/the Golden Gate Bridge on it (SF).

It's hard to know where to point you, because there are so many ways to go, when you say "local." California is pretty long.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 8:31 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem with "Californian" gifts is that we export most of our famous products anyway - wine, movies, Facebook, you can get them all over the world without having to come here.

There are lots of microbrews in northern California that make a lot of good beers that might not be widely available in other regions.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:44 AM on May 22, 2012

to artichoke-(Castroville) or garlic-shaped (Gilroy) candles

I do cherish my artichoke salt and pepper shakers. But I think I could order them on line.

Although I highly recommend getting fried artichokes in Castroville.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you plan to do wine tasting in Napa/Sonoma/elsewhere, there are a lot of amazing, small wineries that do not sell their wines other than at the winery (or they sell a couple of larger batches widely, but some specialty small batches only at the winery). I think that's a nice option if your friends like wine since it's something tasty and unique they can't get at home.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:38 AM on May 22, 2012

A bag of the reject jellybeans from the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield.
posted by book 'em dano at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

These are all great! Thanks so much for the ideas everyone.
posted by Imago at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2012

benzenedream: "
821 Valencia in SF is a pirate supply store and has lots of McSweeney's and other swag. Nearby is Paxton Gate which sells animal skeletons, pinned insects, and bromeliads.

It's actually 826 Valencia (which you'd probably spot from across the street.) Paxton Gate is right next door.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:45 AM on May 22, 2012

D'oh. Also to clarify, St. George Spirits is the name of the Alameda distillery that produces Hangar One vodka.
posted by benzenedream at 10:58 AM on May 22, 2012

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