Souvenir Shopping Part 1, Chicago (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Chicago without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Chicago, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Part 1 Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping Part 1
Guide Location: USA » Chicago (See other walking tours in Chicago)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
Author: Daniel
Lego Store

1) Lego Store

What to buy here: Lego Willis Tower.

Chicago’s Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973 and is still the tallest building in the US. Brave travelers can venture out onto its 103rd-story glass balconies on the recently renovated Skydeck to get a bird’s eye view of 1,353 feet below. Bring a slightly smaller version of the landmark skyscraper to your living room with a Lego kit. The kit includes detailed instructions to create a 9-by-3.1-inch model. Pick up the $25.99 kit at the Lego Store on level 2 of Water Tower Place at 835 N. Michigan Ave. and allow the kids to enjoy the interactive play area. Young girls will love the American Girl Place located on levels 1 and 2 of the nine-level shopping complex. Water Tower Place is just steps from the John Hancock Building, the fourth tallest building in Chicago and the sixth tallest in the US. Lego kits for the Hancock Building are available at the retail counter of the observatory.

Operation hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00-21:00; Sunday: 11:00-18:00.
Tiffany and Co

2) Tiffany and Co

What to buy here: Tiffany Elsa Peretti Bean Pendant.

Though it’s official name is “Cloud Gate,” the 33-by-66-by-42-feet stainless steel Millennium Park centerpiece is affectionately known by locals and tourists alike as “the bean.” The design by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor was selected in a competition and unveiled in the park on May 15, 2006. Since then the bean’s unique reflective properties have made it a photography hotspot in the city. Carry the likeness of Cloud Gate around your neck with an Elsa Peretti Bean pendant from Tiffany & Co. The 9-millimeter-wide sterling silver bean rests centered on a 16-inch chain. For $100 you can take home a coveted Tiffany blue box as well as a memory of Chicago. Chicago’s Tiffany & Co store is located a mile north of Millennium Park at 730 N. Michigan Ave. They are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Saks Fith Ave

3) Saks Fith Ave

What to buy here: Chicago Skyline Snow Globe.

In February 2011, 20.2 inches of snow fell on Chicago, making it the Windy City’s third worst snowstorm after blizzards in 1967 and 1999. The average Chicago winter generates 38 inches of snow (Fall through Spring), but you can make it snow year-round on the city’s skyscrapers with a snow globe. Saks Fifth Avenue’s exclusive musical snow globe features all the landmark buildings, including the Willis Tower, Chicago Theater, Tribune Tower, Marina City and the Water Tower. The 6-inch-tall globe plays “My Kind Of Town” and sells for $40. Saks Fifth Avenue is located on the bustling Magnificent Mile shopping street at 700 N. Michigan Ave. Their hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Travel a block north to see the Water Tower, the only public building to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, now a city landmark and official visitor center. Walk 25 minutes east to reach Navy Pier, the midwest’s No. 1 tourist destination. At the intersection of East Grand and Lake Shore Drive, you’ll find dozens of restaurants as well as shops where you can pick up another snow globe or other Chicago souvenirs. Navy Pier is also home to an Imax theater, the Chicago Children’s Museum and docks for cruise boat rides.
Garrett Popcorn

4) Garrett Popcorn

What to buy here: Garrett Popcorn.

There are two indications you’re near a Garrett Popcorn Shop – the smell of cheese and caramel goodness wafting in the air, and the long line snaked around the block. Garrett Popcorn Shops have been popping kernels in old-fashioned copper kettles since they first opened at 10 W. Madison St. in 1949. Indulge in the Chicago Mix, a blend of caramel and cheese corn – the mix of sweet and salty is not as crazy as it sounds. Fill a souvenir Chicago skyline tin with your favorite flavor, from buttery to Pecan CaramelCrisp. Prices start at $26 for a 1-gallon tin, and go up to $197 for a 6.5-gallon tin of three deluxe flavors. For a less pricey option, a small bag starts at $3. Garrett is no longer at 10 W. Madison St., but you can find them at 625 N. Michigan Ave., open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They also have multiple locations across the city, including in O’Hare Airport.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat Downtown Boutique

5) Vosges Haut-Chocolat Downtown Boutique

What to buy here: Bacon + Chocolate Gift Box.

It’s no secret Chicagoans love pork – their annual Baconfest proves it. And while bacon is delicious on a hamburger or alongside your morning eggs, Chicago chocolatier Vosges has coupled it with another of life’s guilty pleasures – chocolate. Vosges’ Mo’s Bacon Bar mixes 45 percent deep milk chocolate with fine nibbles of hickory-smoked bacon. The bar retails for $7.50. For the ultimate sweet and salty gift box, try their Bacon + Chocolate Gift Box, which contains bacon toffee, milk and dark chocolate bacon candy bars, two flying chocolate pigs and Mo's Bacon + Chocolate pancake mix for $69. Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Merchandise Mart

6) Merchandise Mart (must see)

Merchandise Mart opened in 1930. This outstanding Art-Deco construction features hundreds of amazing stores and unique boutiques, a wide range of restaurants and a food court. The Mart is the world’s largest commercial building, largest wholesale design center and one of Chicago’s premier international business locations.

Select showrooms are open only to wholesalers, with others accessible to the general public. Unlike stores with traditional shelf and rack displays, entire usable rooms are created, providing consumers with an opportunity to compare form and function between applications and manufacturers. A portion of the stores offer items for purchase singly or as a collection, while others offer design services, preservation, renovation, or installation.

Why You Should Visit:
A remarkable building to see even if you have no reason to go in, but certainly a perfect place to have a look around at all the showrooms with stunning furniture and accessories.

The best view of this fine Art Deco structure is from the river.
Among interior highlights are the main floor designer galleries & the Egan showroom.
In addition, on the 1st+2nd floors there are restaurants, coffee shops, post office, banks, etc.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm; Sat: 10am-3pm

Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chicago is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nightlife Tour

Nightlife Tour

Legendary Cocktail Lounges play an important part in Chicago's nightlife. Here you can feel the city pulsing with the beat of extraordinary performances of live jazz, blues, rock, folk and country. At Chicago's cocktail lounges you can meet the trendiest people and relax over the magnificent cocktails. Take this walking tour to discover the most famous cocktail lounges that Chicago has...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Chicago features an outstanding architectural legacy. This city has long been connected with some of architecture's most important names: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and Holabird & Root. The Loop District offers an extensive number of Chicago's famous architectural "must-see" buildings such as Aqua Tower, Willis Tower, Chicago Theatre, or Rookery...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour

Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour

Chicago offers a wide range of amazing green outdoor spaces. Grant and Millennium are two lakefront parks, that represent the city's progressive design streak from the 19th century to the 21st. These parks feature amazing architecture and design. Take this walk to explore the beauties the two parks have to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Art Galleries Tour

Art Galleries Tour

The art world in Chicago is considered vast. There is a large number of art galleries in this city and each gallery has its own unique setup and outstanding exhibitions on display. The beautiful galleries feature works in a wide range of fields, from up-and-coming artists to famous artists like Pablo Picasso. Take this walking tour to explore some of the most famous galleries in Chicago.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Chicago is the thirds largest city in the United States, it is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, and it offers numerous vibrant tourist attractions. It is a thriving center of international trade and commerce and a city of world-class status and unsurpassed beauty. It features world-famous museums and galleries, amazing architecture, lake front parks and a huge variety of restaurants and...  view more

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Chicago without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Chicago, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

One of the most fascinating cities in the U.S., if not the whole world, Chicago has no shortage of things closely associated with it, often due to their direct origin (blues, gangstership, etc.), so one might literally be spoiled for choice as to what to choose as a "piece" of Chicago to...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Chicago for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Chicago has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Chicago's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as Chicago CityPASS, Go Chicago Card, or Chicago Explorer Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Chicago's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Chicago hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Silversmith Hotel, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago Athletic Association.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Chicago, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Chicago typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$70 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker (or a bus trolley, in winter) to enjoy sightseeing of Chicago in comfort listening in the headsets either to the recorded commentary in a variety of foreign languages or to a live on-board commentary from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Dig into the infamous chapter of the history of Chicago, once the criminal capital of the United States, on a crime tour exploring the city’s underworld at its height back in the 1920s-30s. See the actual places and hear the stories associated with the mob names like Al Capone, John Dillinger, and other notorious gangsters.

- Explore the well- and not so well-known pieces of Chicago's design-rich architecture on a 2-hour guided walk to some of the city's prominent landmarks, elegant lobbies, and underground corridors accompanied by educational insights from an expert guide.

- Pedal your way around Chicago on a 4-hour guided bike tour for a chance to get a profound understanding of the city, to taste all of its classical eats in a single go, plus to see the most spectacular highlights of its north side neighborhoods and to cruise one of the most popular waterfront bike paths in the U.S.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of Chicago – this usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise could have done by walking.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Chicago, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Oak Park or Plano. For as little as US$55 per person you will get a chance to discover the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District – the birthplace of the famed Prairie Style architecture, as well as to explore the exterior and interior of the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe and to learn about the life and work of this prominent architect. For any of these tours you will be picked up at a designated place in Chicago and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.