Top 13 California Souvenirs

souvenir from california
Katie
Katie 
Updated

Buying gifts when you’re on your holiday can always seem a little bit tedious, but what if you can make it fun by exploring new places and finding something unique that your friends and family will love and thank you for. You may not find a fridge magnet or bumper sticker on this list, but we hope that you do find something special. Although you’ll have your pick of beach-view hotels and unique vacation rentals in Cali, you can also consider going across the state on an Airstream rental so you can pick up a couple of these top California souvenirs.

1. Route 66 license plate

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Route 66 Mother Road Museum Barstow, CA on Saturday, January 30, 2021

Route 66 is famous for having shortened the travel time from Los Angeles to Chicago. Here, you can enjoy a long, scenic drive and find small towns with an old-world charm. Along the picturesque route, you can also find several diners that are worth checking out if you want to enjoy an authentic American meal. As it is an iconic highway in California, it may be worth it to purchase a Route 66 license plate as a souvenir. You can purchase this item, as well other Route 66 products, at Route 66 Museum Store.

Route 66 Museum Store

Address: 681 N 1st Ave, Barstow, CA 92311, United States

Website: Route 66 Museum Store

Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 11am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

2. Cactus Cooler orange-pineapple soda

Cactus Cooler
Source: Photo by Flickr user Willis Lam used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Having originated in Southern California, Cactus Cooler is an orange-pineapple-flavored carbonated drink manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper. Its label features the colors red, yellow, and green, reminiscent of the colors of Sonoran Desert. While it is mostly sold online, you can find the beverage in certain physical stores in Southern California as well as other nearby southwestern states, making it an ideal souvenir. You can head to Walmart Supercenter in Long Beach to purchase this unique soda.

Walmart Supercenter

Address: 3705 E South St, Long Beach, CA 90805

3. Saltwater taffy from the boardwalk in Santa Cruz

Salt Water Taffy
Source: Photo by Flickr user ashton used under CC BY 2.0

Somewhat a confusing souvenir, but one that I purchased the other day, is saltwater taffy. Why is it confusing? Well it’s not made from saltwater and I had to google what the word ‘taffy’ meant before I purchased it. So, let me be your google: saltwater taffy is made from sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, natural and/or artificial flavor, and food color. A 'taffy’ is basically just a chewy sweet. Ok, so now we know what it is they might not seem so important, but not only are they delicious, they are also a 'must buy’ souvenir from the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

Production of saltwater taffy began on the boardwalk in 1915 and although the scenery may have changed the taffy has not. What I particularly love is that they are still wrapped by a Model K Kiss wrapping machine that was purchased in the 1920s. Historic and tasty; the perfect souvenir.

Saltwater taffy from Santa Cruz

Address: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Website: Saltwater taffy from Santa Cruz

4. Unique Golden State coffee

Verve Coffee Roasters -- Santa Cruz, CA
Source: Photo by Flickr user Kevin Zamani used under CC BY-ND 2.0

There are so many unique coffee roasters up and down California but one of the nicest has to be Verve in Santa Cruz. They have such an array of flavors that they always get my mouth watering 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 to choose from you might be a bit stuck so they have solved this issue for you and introduced the ‘adventurer pack’ which includes a sampling of 6 different varieties. A perfect keepsake and one of the best gifts from California that you can give.

Verve Coffee

Address: 1540 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Website: Verve Coffee

5. See’s chocolate candy gift set from Los Angeles

My Appalling Lack of Self Control
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bennilover used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Another traditional candy for the list, this time it’s chocolate, and it can be none other than See’s Chocolates from Los Angeles. Made since 1921 these chocolates still follow the traditional making methods that Mary See began with, and the taste is outstanding, why change something when it is already perfect? There are now 200 shops across America, so if you’re looking for things to buy in California, be sure to pick up some chocolate from here to take home as a souvenir for your loved ones - if you can stop yourself from eating them, that is.

See’s Chocolate

Address: 189 The Grove Drive, The Grove, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Website: See’s Chocolate

6. Garlic, garlic, garlic and oh maybe more garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Franco Folini used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wait a minute, you may be thinking that I’ve lost the plot, well maybe I have because I really, really like garlic. Luckily for me there is a place in California called Gilroy that is obsessed with garlic, they even have a garlic festival in the summer. My favorite thing to have is the garlic ice cream but that might be difficult to purchase as a souvenir, so instead of garlic ice cream why not pick up a garlic cookbook, garlic oil or even a garlic-scented candle all from Gilroy City Mercantile.

Gilroy City Mercantile

Address: 7550 Monterey Rd, Gilroy, CA 95020

Facebook page: Gilroy City Mercantile

7. Redwood growing kit from Muir Woods, Northern California (from USD 85.0)

Muir Woods National Monument, trail containing a bridge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chrispapsmear used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Muir Woods is located in California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just north of San Francisco. This magnificent Redwood forest is extremely popular due to its excellent trails, views and unique history. So if you’re looking for a romantic thing to do with your partner, consider this place since people from all over the world come to explore Muir Wood and its Redwood Trees. Along the West Coast of the USA there are a number of Redwood pockets, with some of the largest trees in the world. So, one of the best souvenirs from California is the Redwood Seed Germination Kit direct from Muir Woods Trading Co. Now everyone can play their part to help restore the original ancient coast redwood forest of which approximately 95% has been logged. Remember though, a tree is for life, not just for Christmas.

Muir Wood Trading Company

Address: 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Website: Muir Wood Trading Company

From San Francisco: Muir Woods National Monument Guided Tour

Duration: 3.5 hour

287 reviews

8. Buy a souvenir and help the bee crisis

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


We love the folks behind Backyard Bees who offer a much happier alternative to exterminating unwanted bees on your property. They simply remove the bees without the use of any harmful chemicals and move them to an environment where they, and you will be much happier. Not only will you get to take home as a souvenir some of the best honey in the Orange County area but you also get to do your little bit to counteract the global bee crisis, looks like a win / win to us! You can grab a copy of the their honey at Whole Food Market in Brea, and whilst you’re there, read our ‘Come Rain or Shine: Top Ten All Weather Activities in Brea, CA’ blog. Might aswell make a day-trip out of it!

Backyard Bees

Address: Whole Foods Market, 3301 E Imperial Highway, Brea, CA, 92823

Website: Backyard Bees

9. Reject beans

Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, California
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Finally a silly one to end our list; the reject beans. You can grab a bag of reject jellybeans straight from the Factory in Fairfield, after completing the free tour, of course. We love that these are available and it also means less food waste from the factory. A great souvenir for children.

Jellybean Factory

Address: 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, CA

Website: Jellybean Factory

10. Historic Route 66 license plate

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Route 66 Mother Road Museum Barstow, CA on Thursday, March 18, 2021

Nothing says holiday to Uncle Sam’s like a Route 66 license plate. Route 66 is one of the most well-known roads in America and one of the first original highways. The road stretches 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. Be on the lookout for them when you make a stop at a souvenir shop. Instead of heading to the checkout counter with a magnet, get one of these instead!

11. A bottle of wine from Napa valley (from USD 149.0)

Vineyards in Napa Valley
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Brocken Inaglory used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Ok, so telling you what bottle to buy as a souvenir would be difficult but you can read my previous blog called ‘Top Twelve Wineries in St Helena’ which might help you decide which Napa Valley winery to support. Other than that the only real other way to know that you’re getting a great wine souvenir is to go to Napa Valley and taste them all yourself… gosh it’s such a hard life sometimes isn’t it? However, wines from California’s wine country make for great gifts, so be sure to pick up a bottle or two!

Wine From Napa Valley

Website: Napa Valley

San Francisco: Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour

Duration: 8.0 hour

288 reviews

12. A taste of history with Anchor Steam (from USD 59.0)

souvenir from california | a taste of history with anchor steam
Source: www.viator.com

We’ve had a bottle of wine already on this list so it would be rude to not include a delicious traditional IPA as a souvenir option. Our favorite choice has to be Anchor Steam for two reasons, firstly it takes delicious and secondly it is one of America’s oldest breweries having launched in San Francisco in 1896. Did you know that it is so famous that Anchor Steam has had its own dedicated week since 2015, the third week of August is ‘Drink Steam Week’ as proclaimed by the San Francisco Mayor. Who are we to say no to that? Grab your beers, your souvenirs and enjoy!

Anchor Steam

Address: 1705 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Website: Anchor Steam

San Francisco North Beach Small-Group Pub Crawl

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

8 reviews

13. Anything tie dye from world famous Haight Street (from USD 150.0)

souvenir from california | anything tie dye from world famous haight street
Source: www.viator.com

Years ago the Haight Ashbury area was the epicenter of the hippy culture, with the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin calling it home. For many it still is, with its unique shops, cool record stores, interesting street characters, art with purpose and free events. The colors and sounds of the 60s still ooze from the sidewalk, but with a new twist as you walk by the tie-dye mixed with Burning Man-style attire. Make your weekend trip extra colorful by paying homage to the era and area with a tie dye souvenir from any of the shops along the street.

Haight Street

Address: Haight St, San Francisco, CA

Website: Haight Street

Mission and Haight-Ashbury Street Art Walk and Thrift Store Shopping with Local

Duration: 3 to 6 hours

That wraps it up

Beautiful beaches and tantalizing food are not the only things to discover in California. From North to South and from Redwood Tree growing kits to reject jelly beans, we’ve covered a list of top California souvenirs that we think are unique. We hope that we have helped inspire you to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones! Have you found something that you think should be on our list? Remember to comment below with your thoughts!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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