Browsing at the Pharmacy, a bed, body, and bath store in Truckee's Old Capitol Theater
Hunting for gifts is a pleasure when you know the great places. VIA's readers home in on joyous holiday shopping spots around the West.
BOISE "A marvelous, compact, and pedestrian-friendly downtown with lovely 19th-century buildings and an array of nonchain stores," writes Eric Wallace of Boise. "Don't miss the newly renovated and expanded Eighth Street Market." www.downtownboise.org.
CAPITOLA VILLAGE Capitola, Calif. "A beachside winter wonderland," writes Gayle Michael of Corralitos, Calif. "Stroll along the little streets adorned with holiday lights and trees and find ceramics, jewelary, clothing, collectibles, chocolate—even a clock shope." www.capitolavillage.org.
CROUCH Idaho. "Splendid antiques, a unique floral shop, a ‘shabby chic' furniture store, and a place that sells furniture made from tree trunks," reports Jody Mabe of Garden Valley, Idaho. www.gvchamber.org.
GILROY PREMIUM OUTLETS Gilroy, Calif. "Everything you need and at a great price," reports Michelle Caron of Morgan Hill, Calif. "The 145 brand-name stores have something for every man, woman, and child—and the holiday sales are great. www.premiumoutlets.com.
GRASS VALLEY AND NEVADA CITY Calif. "Both these towns hold holiday festivals with horse-drawn buggies, carolers, and roasted chestnust," writes Susan Stratman of Rough and Ready, Calif. "It's a delight to look in the old brick shops for kitchen gadgets, candles and crafts, books, jewelry and beads, clothing and children's gifts. www.ncgold.com.
LAHAINA Maui, Hawaii. Pete Culcasi Jr. of Gold River, Calif., calls Lahaina's Front Street "a shopper's paradise, with an abundance of local folk items from jewelry to license plate frames." www.lahainacenter.com.
NORTHWEST 23RD STREET Portland. "I love the boutiques here," says Kim Shafiee of Tualatin, Ore. "You can find one-of-a-kind clothing, home decor, and much more." www.oregon.com/shopping/portland_shops.cfm.
OLD SACRAMENTO Calif. "A magical immersion in an old style Christmas," says Melanie Light of Sacramento, Calif. "There are carolers, carriage rides, and Santa sightings, plus specialty shops, an outdoor market, music, pubs and restaurants, and, beyound, the Sacramento River, reflecting zillions of tiny lights. www.oldsacramento.com.
OLD-TOWN GRANTS PASS Ore. "Seven-foot-tall musical Christmas cards, giant nutcrackers guarding storefronts, fresh evergreen boughs everywhere—all sparkling with lights," says Louise Fiedor of Grants Pass. "Antiques, book emporiums, shoe stores, and a mini-mall filled with local handcrafts." www.grantspasschamber.org.
SATURDAY MARKET Portland. "Where else can you find wooden toys crafted by a violin maker, order custom-made jewelry, and buy the perfect skirt or jacket sewn by a local artisan?" asks Jean Wu of Sacramento, Calif. www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com.
TRUCKEE Calif. "I love the old buildings and the train that comes whistling through," says Arlene Amodei of Sierraville, Calif. "Stroll the wide sidewalk in downtown Truckee and you'll find clothing for the family, hard-to-find gifts like model trains and gourmet utensils, plus a real, old-fashioned five-and-dime." www.truckee.com.
UNION STREET San Francisco. "You'll find chocolate Santas, stunning handblown glass ornaments, great body-care products, and sporting goods for that guy who has everything," writes Pam Gradney of South San Francisco. www.unionstreetsf.com.
Photography by Tom Zikas
This article was first published in November 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.