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Souvenir shopping: tips for choosing a meaningful memento

Headed to the mountains for a summer vacation? Chances are you’ll find yourself exploring downtown Boone, popping in and out of our unique shops and boutiques. Whether it’s for you or a loved one, rest assured that you can find the perfect memento in our mountain town. Read on to learn about the history of the souvenir, to get our tips for choosing a meaningful memento, and to learn about souvenir shopping in downtown Boone, NC. 

A brief history of the souvenir. 

The word “souvenir” is French, and can be loosely defined as a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event. The ritual of obtaining souvenirs spans back millenniums. People used to take literal bits and pieces of the places that they visited back home with them. Thomas Jefferson once carved off a sliver of Shakespeare’s chair and kept it as a souvenir! These days that’s clearly not okay… yet to some degree many of us are still guilty of this practice. 

Think about it: have you ever saved a wine cork or kept a special rock or sea shell? It’s practically the same thing. These sentimental bits and pieces are a way in which we try to memorialize our experiences. It’s been argued that the significance of a souvenir is bound to the traveler’s identity. “We collect souvenirs to narrate the self, not to evaluate the world,” claims Rolf Potts in Souvenirs 101, published by the New York Times. That’s an interesting thing to think about, and I highly recommend checking out that entire article. 

3 tips for choosing the perfect memento. 

Think about who you’re buying for.

Really, think about them. Considering the person -their likes, dislikes, favorite colors, or hobbies- can really make a difference when it comes to choosing something special. Break out of the t-shirt rut and get creative. Unless, of course, the person you’re buying for is a t-shirt person! There’s nothing wrong with that, plus there are some great t-shirt shops in downtown Boone. Think unique, hand-screen printed designs and more… 

Choose something handcrafted…and maybe a bit unusual. 

There are so many talented artists, makers, and creators native to these Blue Ridge Mountains. You can find some one-of-a-kind handmade items in our downtown shops. From pottery, to jewelry, to fine art we’ve got a little bit of everything. If you’re here on the weekend, check out the Watauga County Farmers Market, just east of downtown Boone. In addition to veggies, the market features locally made soaps, honey, jams, and jellies. You’ll also find many artists selling various handmade products. 

Make it yourself.

This might be our favorite tip of all. Whether you’re purchasing yarn, an interesting pendant, or fine art supplies from Art Mart, we recommend letting your artistic side shine through. If you enjoy sketching or painting, you’re guaranteed to find an interesting subject downtown. If that’s not your thing, consider turning the photos from your trip into a scrapbook. That can make an excellent gift for family members, those who were able to make the trip and those who weren’t. 

Souvenir shopping in downtown Boone NC.


Common Good Co. – Locally owned shop filled with handmade things that inspire creating and growing.

Elizabeth’s Treasures – Women’s boutique and gift shop offering clothing, shoes, home goods, baby gifts, and custom gift options with in-store specialty gift wrapping.


High Country Souvenirs – Find the perfect t-shirt, hat, or sticker. 

Farmers Shoppes – Variety… so much variety. You can find it all in this shop. 

Lucky Penny – Typically features unique, locally made jewelry. 

Dancing Moon Earthway Bookstore – Great local art and wonderful handmade cards. 

Art Mart & Academy – A locally owned art supply shop in the heart of downtown Boone. 

For a truly unique shopping experience, catch an installment of Pop Up Boone: as this event brings the work of over 50 makers into one central space.

Best of luck souvenir shopping. We’d love to hear all about your favorite places to shop. We’re sure we’ve left out some great spots, so we encourage you to share your favorites with us. In the meantime, if you’d like to stay in the loop on all things Horton, sign up for our email list by clicking here


Author: Megan Biddix


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