What souvenirs should I bring back from the U.S.?
The best souvenirs of the United States are of the intangible kind.
A spectacular sunset on the horizon after a busy day, a great story that will make you laugh every time you tell it...
Be that as it may, here is a list of suggestions for souvenirs to bring back from the land of Uncle Sam.
- Cowboy hat: The most iconic of American symbols, you will find cowboy hats all over the United States and particularly in the American Southwest. You can buy them in souvenir stores, but it is best to go to a specialty store. Make sure that your hat is not made in China but in the USA. They come in all shapes and colours. The most classic is the famous Stetson.
- Cowboy boots: Cowboy boots, also called western boots, are traditionally made of cowhide leather. They have a high heel and a pointed toe. Here again, for the sake of choice and variety, you will be better off shopping in a specialty store.
- Belt and belt buckle: The last item to complete your cowboy look: a wide leather belt with a large decorative buckle. The best idea is to find a simple belt to which you can add the buckle(s) of your choice.
- Sportswear: A team jersey or ball cap always makes a great souvenir. Baseball and American football are the most typically American sports.
- Park Ranger gear: American national parks often sell Ranger shirts and hats. Or you can sew a patch on your favourite jacket.
- T-Shirt: You will have a wide range of T-shirts to choose from throughout your trip, from the classic "I love New York" to flags and quotes like "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas".
- Jeans: Invented in the U.S. in 1872, jeans quicky became a worldwide fashion staple. In addition to being a souvenir, jeans are also much cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe (+/- 30 euros).
- Converse: Why not bring back a limited-edition pair of these iconic American sneakers?
- License plate: Each state has its own license plate, often with the state motto. They make excellent souvenirs if you're here for a USA road trip.
- Road sign: On the road trip theme, souvenir shops carry an array of road signs (Route 66, Highway 1, etc.). Why not bring back the sign of your favourite road?
- Flag: America is a very patriotic country and you will see American flags everywhere you go. You will have no problem finding one to bring back with you. They come in many formats and even on cups, playing cards, coasters, calendars, phone cases, etc.
- Junk food: Peanut butter M&Ms, pretzels, a can of Dr Pepper, cinnamon-flavoured chewing gum, Ghirardelli chocolate made in San Francisco...
- Casino chips: If you're a poker fan (or even if you're not), drop by the cashier of your favourite Las Vegas casino and pick up a few poker chips.
- Deck of cards: In the same vein, there are stores in Las Vegas that sell decks of cards that have actually been used on a local casino floor.
- Scale models: Every city has its architectural symbol, from the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
- Fridge magnets: It could be fun to collect several of them, for example one from each significant stop on your trip (city, park, etc.).
Native American handicrafts
- Dream catcher: A dream catcher is a hoop (traditionally made of willow) on which is woven a net or web. It is then decorated with feathers and beads. You hang the dreamcatcher in a window of your room, and it is believed that bad dreams get caught in the web during the night. When the day comes, the bad dreams are burned by the sun.
- Jewelry: You will come across many gift shops on Native American tribal lands, especially in Arizona. In Monument Valley, for example, you will find an outdoor market with a beautiful variety of handcrafted jewelry made by local artists.
- Kachina doll: A kachina is a spirit being in the religious beliefs of the Pueblo peoples of the south-western U.S. Masked members of the tribe dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies that take place many times throughout the year. Kachina dolls are small brightly painted wooden "dolls" which are miniature representations of the masked impersonators. These figurines are given to children during the ceremonies to help them learn about the spirit world.
Road trip in the American West
See our suggested itineraries to help plan your United States road trip.
Do you have any other ideas for souvenirs to bring back from the U.S.?
Feel free to add to our list in the comments below!