St. Louis area shopping malls are always busy during the holiday season, but the Gateway City also offers up some great alternatives to the big chain stores. For something a little different, consider doing your holiday shopping at any of these local boutiques, craft fairs or specialty stores.
Check the location's website for dates and times.
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Eckert's Country Store in Belleville is a great option if you have a foodie on your gift list. The store features many products made with fruit right from the orchard. Favorites include homemade apple butter, chocolate fudge and fruit preserves. There's also a nice variety of wines, cheeses and baked goods for gift baskets, plus plenty of holiday decorations and tableware.
Location: 951 South Green Mount Road, Belleville
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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You can find all things Italian on The Hill in St. Louis. The city's famous Italian neighborhood is a great destination during the holiday season. For unique gifts, make the trip to Girasole. This colorful store is stocked with a large variety of Italian products, including ceramics, jewelry, handbags, beauty products, and books. The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to finding just the right gift.
Location: 2103 Marconi Avenue, St. Louis
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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The band at Parkway Central High School hosts one of the more popular holiday craft fairs in the St. Louis area. Each year, hundreds of vendors set up shop at the school selling pantings, ceramics, woodwork, jewelry, clothes and more. There's also a food market and raffle drawings for prizes throughout the fair.
Location: 369 North Woods Mill Road, Chesterfield
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The Webster Groves Historical Society has been hosting its annual Christmas market for more than 25 years. This year's market will be at Rolling Ridge Nursery in the heart of Webster Groves. Vendors will be selling all kinds of plants, decorations, arts, and crafts. For more shopping, check out the many nearby specialty shops which will be open during market hours. In addition to shopping, the event also features food, strolling carolers and carriage rides.
Location: 60 North Gore Avenue, Webster Groves
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The Treasure Chest Holiday Expo is a good reason to make the trip to St. Charles County. More than 200 vendors bring their best wares to the expo offering up the opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your holiday list. There are gourmet food items, art, crafts, clothes, toys, trains and more. If you need a little food to fuel your shopping, on Sunday, there is a pancake and sausage breakfast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles
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Each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, St. Mary Magdalen Parish in south St. Louis hosts a holiday craft fair. Dozens of juried crafters will be selling jewelry, art work, decorations, home decor and more. The event also features a quilt raffle, baked goods, and BBQ.
Location: 4924 Bancroft Avenue, St. Louis
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The Rotary Club Craft Fair is your chance to shop at more than 400 vendors all in the same location. This large craft fair is known for its wide selection of specialty items. From handbags and accessories to sculptures and fine art, you'll find plenty of options. The craft fair is held at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis County. Another added benefit: the Rotary Club donates its proceeds from the craft fair to local and international charities.
Location: 5000 South Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis CountyContinue to 9 of 17 below.
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Winter may not be the best time to visit the outdoor sights at Cahokia Mounds, but the weekend after Thanksgiving is a good time to do a little shopping at the historic site. The annual Native American Holiday Market features the work of dozens of Native American artists from all across the country. The vendors will be selling their arts and crafts including jewelry, blankets, paintings, books and more.
Location: 30 Ramey Street, Collinsville, IL
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Main Street in Historic St. Charles is known for its dozens of specialty shops, antique stores, and art galleries. During the holiday season, the retailers come together to host Christmas Traditions. That's when the shops stay open late and the cobblestone streets fill with carolers and other performers. Even if your shopping is done, Christmas Traditions still has plenty to offer including marshmallow roasts, candlelight processions and the chance to meet two of Santa's reindeer.
Location: Historic Main Street, St. CharlesContinue to 13 of 17 below.
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It's easy to find gifts for your favorite pooch at the Pet-acular Holiday Bazaar at Purina Farms. The Vendor Village has dozens of booths with fun gifts for dogs and the people who love them. There are also canine demonstrations, children's activities and Santa Paws photos for both kids and pets.
Location: Purina Farms, Gray Summit
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Hermann's German heritage is on full display during the holiday season. Each year, Stone Hill Winery hosts a traditional German Christmas market called a Kristkindl Markt. Vendors sell handmade crafts, decorations, German food, cookies and more. As you would expect, there are also plenty of wine-themed gifts for the wine lover on your list.
Location: Stone Hill Winery, Hermann
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One week after the Stone Hill event, Hermannhof Winery hosts its own Kristkindl Markt at its historic Festhalle. German World magazine recently listed the Hermannhof celebration as one of the most authentic and popular German style-markets in the United States. It features crafts, cookies and handmade Christmas decorations. Admission is $5 for adults. Children 15 and younger get in free.
Location: Hermannhof Winery, Hermann
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The St. Charles West High School Band is hosting its annual art and craft fair two weeks before Christmas. More than 150 vendors will be selling handmade gifts at the high school. Shoppers can expect to see everything from clothes and accessories, to quilts and gourmet food items. There is also a holiday cookie sale with dozens of varieties of sweet treats to take home.
Location: 3601 Droste Road, St. CharlesContinue to 17 of 17 below.
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Each Christmas season, the St. Louis Zoo hosts its Holiday Zootique at the Treetop Shop in The Living World. The store is filled with clothing, toys, books and home décor. The Zoo also offers two special items every holiday season: an ornament and animal adoption.
Location: One Government Drive, St. Louis
Hours: Nov. 9 - Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m