We get a lot of questions from guests about Arizona, Arizona souvenirs, Southwest keepsakes, and items and materials unique to the state.
Here is our attempt to help you navigate the world of turquoise, prickly pear products, hot sauces, kokopellis and more!
What gifts is Arizona known for?
Arizona is state with a wide range of topography and climates -- and a range of gifts to match!
For home decor, many people lean toward wall decorations or table sets that feature copper (Arizona is the Copper State); turquoise; mesquite wood; and sandstone. Look for popular elements like kokopellis (symbol of fertility and prosperity), geckos (symbol of good luck); and saguaro cacti (long life and perseverance).
Similarly, the beautiful sunsets and dawns of the Sonoran Desert capture one's imagination. One of the state's top artists in depicting the colors of the state is Diana Madaras of Tucson. We offer a selection of her work at Sibley's West.
For jewelry, pieces made with turquoise and copper are always popular. Arizona is one of the best places in the world to find turquoise. Sibley's West also features jewelry made from tumbleweeds -- yes, tumbleweeds -- crafted by Doris and Walter Husbands of Bisbee.
A mini canvas by Diana Madaras.
What's a good Arizona souvenir?
Anything to do with a cactus!
When people think of Arizona, they imagine a tall, 200-year saguaro cactus, with short arms, standing in the Sonoran Desert during 110-degree days and 30-degree winter nights.
To remember one's experiences in Arizona, the glass cactus souvenir is always popular.
Some people like to take home a live cactus, so the "traveling cactus" with one, three or four cacti is a living keepsake.
The glass cactus souvenir comes in 4-inch and 7-inch sizes.
What food products is Arizona known for?
Anything made with the juice of the prickly pear cactus fruit!
The red fruit is harvested every August and September from prickly pear cacti throughout the Sonoran Desert. (You can learn more in this video with Cheri Romanoski of Cheri's Desert Harvest of Tucson.)
The fruit tastes like a plum, a little sweet at the beginning followed by a touch of sourness.
But there are a lot of other products made with the prickly pear juice, including soap!
Some of the popular newer products featuring prickly pear are:
One other thing ... it's good for you! Prickly pear juice is a natural antioxydant.
Drizzle some prickly pear jelly over some cream cheese and serve with crackers. Delicious!
What candy is Arizona known for?
See above. Anything with prickly pear!
The square, chewy prickly pear candy has been a treat for Arizonans since the 1940s. It features the sweetness and tartness of the fruit (but leans more toward sweet).
In recent years, various companies have created other candies with the prickly pear juice:
Even prickly pear chocolate bars!
The chewy squares of prickly pear candy.
What are some unique Native American gifts?
When people think of the Southwest, many picture the talented artisans of local tribes like the Navajo, Hopi or Apache.
For centuries artists from these communities have produced one-of-a-kind pieces of art, like horsehair pottery, kachinas, turquoise jewelry, dream catchers, paintings, and weavings.
You can explore offerings by visiting trading posts on various reservations across Arizona, or buy stopping into shops that feature Native American mementos.
Sibley's West carries beautiful etched pottery, colorful "mini" kachinas, turquoise jewelry and more.
These pieces of horsehair pottery include beautiful etchings.
What is the deal with hot stuff?
Visitors to Arizona always comment on the great meals they've enjoyed, many at the state's outstanding Mexican restaurants.
In addition to margaritas and chips, people remember salsas, hot sauces, chilis and peppers.
Here's a quick breakdown of some of the different approaches Arizona businesses have taken with "heat."
With salsas, best served as an appetizer with unflavored chips, people go in different directions.
Goldwaters Salsas, from the late senator's brand, are best known for their array of fruity flavors -- including Peach, Raspberry, Mango and Pineapple.
For pure heat, many are drawn to the Sting N Linger brand.
For something different, you can try Arizona Cowboy's Cactus Salsa, made with elements from real cacti. (Earthy and delicious.)
For those who have enjoyed a meal at Serrano's Mexican Restaurants, their salsa is now available in jars to take home or buy online.
When it comes to hot sauces, it's a matter of taste, how you like to use them, and on what.
For obnoxious heat, the Ass Kickin' brand has been doing it since the 1980s. They have created different flavors, like Bacon Hot Sauce, but are known for ramping it up, all the way to Spontaneous Combustion.
The Arizona Gunslinger brand has a lot of fans among people who have tried it in restaurants. A fair amount of heat, but with an emphasis on flavors, like chipotle.
The Cutino Sauce Co. has gotten a lot of attention of late. Jacob Cutino recommends using his sauces as you prepare your meals, to give them a bit of zest.
Looking for something different, you may want to try a gourmet hot sauce from Precious Sauces. The difference with their sauces, which still pack heat, is their use of lime juice as the base, instead of vinegar.
The donkey from the Ass Kickin' brand can be seen around the world.