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Family Fun in Indy

Ho Ho Holiday Shopping in Indy

Museums Offer Unique Gifts This Holiday Season

November 01, 2010
The people on your list are special; so, why settle for a generic gift this holiday season? Indianapolis is home to several unique museums that have charming gift shops, which offer unique presents that you won't find anywhere else.

Chances are you can't afford a Rembrandt. But after looking at one of his paintings at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) , you can visit their gift shop and discover plenty of creations that are within your budget. The choices include everything from hand-loomed scarves and 'artsy' winter coats, to glassware, custom note cards, puzzles and jewelry. You never know what you'll find at the IMA's Design Store. Unique chairs to kitchen utensils with an artistic flare fill the shelves.

Conner Prairie is a nationally acclaimed living history museum with its own gems like heirloom seeds and gourmet foods including jams, soups and old-fashioned candy. It's also stocked with wool skeins and other textiles from their loom house, as well as their popular pottery.

Speaking of pottery, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has an award winning store. Whether it includes blankets and purses from Pendleton, pottery by Jacquie Stevens or reproduction bronzes by Frederic Remington, they have the one-of-a-kind gift you need.

Local artists share their wares at the Indianapolis Art Center's Basile Gallery Gift Shop. You can choose from the hand-made pottery, paintings, glass, fiber/fabric, photography and jewelry. Or, place a special order with the artist yourself. Anything goes - from getting a necklace accented with your favorite color to commissioning two dozen ceramic pieces as corporate gifts.

Looking for something uniquely Indiana? The Indiana History Center's shop features the best of Indiana literature, art, music, jewelry, pottery, toys, games and much more.

The Indiana State Museum's gift shop is another place to pick up unique items created by Indiana artisans and businesses like L.S. Ayres Tea Room cookbooks, Vera Bradley totes and purses, South Bend chocolates and IMAX films on DVD.

If you're in the market for toys that teach, check out The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. There, you'll find everything from collectible replicas of dinosaurs to amber jewelry made from fossilized tree sap. Visitors can also choose from Science, Space, Thomas the Train, Puzzle and Games or Imaginary Play areas. And several weeks ago, they surveyed children to discover the most popular toys. You can find the results to help you shop by asking one of the clerks.

If you're still having trouble, don't beat yourself up over it. Hit a drum, instead. Rhythm! Discover Center has several percussion instruments for sale. And, the Indianapolis Zoo shop has unique items from Africa, including authentic drums handmade in Kenya and hand-carved statues. Help your favorite little one explore new worlds with a "safari" hat or the latest in educational books and games. There are also plenty of plush animal toys and masks from which to choose.

The romantic in you may prefer to visit the James Whitcomb Riley House Gift Shop for beautifully illustrated reproductions of books of poems by the famed "Hoosier Poet." There are also toys from the late-Victorian era in which Riley lived.

Imagine your guests sitting down to dinner at a table dressed with White House china. The gift shop at the President Benjamin Harrison Home offers 12 presidential China patterns including designs from the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Harrison administrations. Pieces may be purchased individually or by the place setting. The shop also offers the Flowers of the First Ladies collection; dessert plates decorated with the floral artwork of the First Ladies and books on presidential homes.

Everyone knows a sports fanatic who has everything. Why not check out the NCAA Hall of Champions gift shop. You'll find officially licensed NCAA merchandise featuring a complete clothing line, specialty gifts, books, videos and more.

Wrap it all up with a pit stop at Official Trackside Gift Shop (inside the Hall of Fame Museum) at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You'll find all kinds of exclusive collector items including bricks from the original track, die-cast cars, flags, buttons, and pictures of your favorite drivers dating all the way back to 1909. There is also a wide variety of t-shirts, key chains, pins and caps.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines, get out the pocket book and go shopping in Indy for the holidays!

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