Keychains are great, but you can get more creative with your souvenirs. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Souvenirs should be cherished or consumed with joy. They should never be dust catchers, but rather a collection of memories strung by the thread of your life.
Yahoo Travel went in search of the best things to take home from your journeys in all fifty states, either for yourself, or for the poor saps you left back home. The list reads like a treasure hunt of Americana through food, crafts, and even plain old tackiness. Use it as a trip planner if you will, because the travel of finding these fifty bits of memorabilia is the treasure itself.
Dip southern pecans into the sweetness of gooey praline, then roll them in dusty sugar for a delight that will make you dream of Alabama forever. Try these from Wood Pecan Co.
The crafting of wooden bowls for decoration and utility is an art quietly slipping away, but not at the Great Alaskan Bowl Company in Fairbanks.
Cactus candy from the Arizona Cactus Candy Company makes for a silly reminder of all that cactus you have driven past.
There is no better souvenir than one found, rather than purchased. An actual diamond from Crater of Diamonds State Park would certainly top the list of amazing things you might find in Arkansas.
Take home a few rocks from Glass Beach. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Beach glass from “Glass Beach” at MacKerricher State Park makes a beautiful photo-op souvenir. Just don’t slip any into your pocket; it’s one of the few places in the world where it’s illegal to collect beach glass.
You can set out rockhounding in Colorado to find mineral treasure on your own but an easier route is to stop by the Rock Doc in Nathrop first for advice or to buy the finest specimens.
Glass art from The Company of Craftsmen in Mystic adds beauty to any travel collection.
The latest seasonal brew from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is to be sampled, savored, and collected for enjoyment with your buds back home. The hard part may be sharing your stash once you get it there.
Crazy painted hermit crabs from Florida Marine Research (found at souvenir shops throughout the state) are easy to care for and bring a tiny piece of Florida into your home.
Of course you need boiled peanuts when you visit Georgia. Take some home from Hardy Farms.
Take home some goodies from the Dole Plantation. (Photo: Dole Plantation)
You can ship actual fruit home, but it will never taste as good as it did in the islands. Instead, try the chocolate covered pineapple from the Dole Plantation. It’s the perfect way to put that pineapple smile back on your face.
Potatoes are kind of an Idaho thing in case you hadn’t noticed. Potato soup mix from Idaho Taters brings your Idaho memories back in a warm way.
Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in the country. There are certainly souvenirs you can buy at the park, but the only one you actually need is your ticket stub.
Popcorn from Not Just Popcorn is a staple souvenir from The Crossroads of America. The dark chocolate is a sure winner.
A die cast truck, a Kenworth perhaps, makes a fun reminder from the biggest truckstop in the country– Iowa 80 Truckstop.
Brisket is just the gift that keeps giving. (Photo: Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ)
After you have gorged on Kansas ‘que, take home some sauce from Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ from their Overland Park restaurant to share with those unlucky enough not to have shared your feast.
Once you have toured the distillery and bought a bit of bourbon to take home, you’ll need some help figuring out what to do with it. Start with the Maker’s Mark Mixologist Gift Set.
There’s surely a chance that someone in your life needs a Voodoo doll from Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.
You really need a lobster keychain from just about any souvenir shop to remind you that the key to good lobster is a return trip to Maine.
And you need a crab keychain for the same reason that you need a lobster keychain from Maine.
Wicked Walnuts from these stores are the perfect reminder of the wicked good time you had in Massachusetts.
So it’s not the real thing, but you can take home your own piece of Ford memorabilia with this die-cast model. (Photo: Ford)
If you can’t go home with an actual muscle car, maybe a die-cast model from the Henry Ford Museum gift shop will work as a stand in.
Take home some Legos from the Mall of America, because where else can you experience such a shopping fantasyland?
Any souvenir from Sharkheads in Biloxi will work, because the fun is just to walk through those teeth at the doorway, and it’s rude to do that and not buy something inside.
Take home the taste of Missouri in a jar. Levee Mercantile Pumpkin Butter is available in the lobby gift shop of the Gateway Arch.
A sapphire from Sapphire Gallery should be in your possession when you leave the state. Because everyone needs a few.
Antiques from the heartland are an everyday find in The Old Market neighborhood in Omaha.
Anything you buy at Gold and Silver Pawn, home of the Pawn Stars is a souvenir with a story behind it. You can always just go for the new talking bobble-head dolls of the show’s stars.
This year the top souvenir would be presidential campaign buttons. You can find them almost anywhere.
Try not to eat all of the taffy before you get it home. (Photo: Shriver’s)
Salt water taffy from Shriver’s is the perfect souvenir from your visit to the shore.
You have got to get some Hatch green chilis. If you can’t make it to Hatch when they are fresh in late summer, shop the supermarkets in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for some frozen Hatch to take home.
Take home a snow globe from Radio City Music Hall, because nobody does Christmas like the Rockettes.
An ornament (or three) from McAddenville is really the only souvenir you need to remind you of your visit to Christmas Town, U.S.A.
Fargo has plenty of unique shopping venues to explore, but stop for the now-famous chocolate-covered potato chips from Carol Widman’s Candy Company before you leave town.
Grab a jersey of your favorite player at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Photo: Hall of Fame)
A jacket from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton will make you a standout at football games the rest of the season.
Buffalo jerky from the Red Dirt Emporium gives you a flavorful, but unique reminder of your visit to OKC.
Is there any question that you will be eating salmon while in Portland? The easiest way to take some home to share or enjoy later is smoked from Oregon Lox Company.
Snag as many bags of Kisses as you can stuff into your luggage from Hershey World. They have flavors that you cannot get anywhere else.
Island Rhode Island Rocks chocolate-covered pretzel mix from these stores is a perfect blend of sweet and salty—kind of like Rhode Islanders.
Sweetgrass hand-woven baskets are the prime souvenir target from Charleston. Shop the Charleston City Market for a wide selection.
In addition to your presidential trinkets from Mount Rushmore, take home some honey from Black Hills Honey Farm.
Soak in the memory of Elvis Presley. (Photo: Graceland)
Stationary from your room in the Heartbreak Hotel, or maybe a selfie taken in the heart-shaped pool are far better souvenirs from Graceland than most people will take home.
Get yourself some Blue Bell Ice Cream. Because you can.
Polished petrified wood from Rock pick Legend Company is a tactile reminder of the state with a rough exterior and a highly polished and colorful interior.
Load up on maple syrup from Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm. Because you must.
There will be peanuts of course. But stop and get some from The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia for a peek at the state’s (and our nation’s) history.
A cresting wave paperweight. (Photo: Glass Eye Studio)
Glass beads from Fenton Art Glass are no longer in production, making them an even more prized memento of your trip.
In your rush to try every small craft brewery in the country, don’t forget to salute the old guard. Take home a beer stein from the gift shop at the Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery.
Get a hoodie from Yellowstone National Park, because a t-shirt just doesn’t cut it on a chilly fall night in Yellowstone. You’ll be snuggling in it all winter, remembering your trip.
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