LINCOLN PARK — Lincoln Park and Old Town are well known as traditional havens for Chicago shoppers, and they rise to the occasion when it comes to the holidays.
So skip the Loop and loop instead into Old Town and up through Lincoln Park and return home with your gift sack full.
Let's start by bridging the two neighborhoods, shall we?
There's The Rub
Barn and Company
The Spice House, 1512 N. Wells St., is your one-stop shopping destination for gifts of the Magi. It sells Frankincense Tears at $1.67 an ounce, Myrrh Gum Pieces at $3.91 an ounce and Glace de Canard Gold Roasted Duck Stock at $6.71 a package. Local outdoor chefs know that the real gold, though, is Gary Wiviott's Barbecue Rub, at $6.15. So start your shopping there and finish at Barn and Company, 950 W. Wrightwood Ave., to see how pitmaster Wiviott deploys it himself.
Terry and Dirk Fucik of Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop
Fresh from its triumph in the inaugural Lincoln Park Top 10 Awards as the best place to shop, Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop, 2070 N. Clybourn Ave., is a great place to stop for lunch, but it also has a holiday gift offer in December. With every $100 gift card bought to be spent on cooking classes (usually held twice a month) or other goods, the buyer gets $20 in coupons and a Dirk's Fish shopping bag. Talk about the gift that goes on giving.
Now We're Rolling
Hardwood rolling pins, starting at $79, at Five Elements Home.
Farther up the avenue, Five Elements Home, at 2216 N. Clybourn, is a new store bringing unique Chinese handmade housewares to Chicago from small, independent artisans in remote areas of China. The linens and hand-painted plates are exquisite, but the everyday items like hardwood rolling pins (starting at $79 in cherry) and chopsticks ($19 for five pairs) exceed all expectations. The Asian rolling pins are specially intended for the fine rolling of wonton wrappers.
Put The Rude In Rudolph
Rise of Rudolph Dunny, $15, at Rotofugi.
It's the season of toys, of course, and Rotofugi, at 2780 N. Lincoln Ave., has established itself as one of the city's most innovative and unusual toy stores. Kidrobot puts out special-edition Christmas dunny each year, and this year Frank Kozik designed a three-inch Rise of Rudolph Holiday Dunny from "Reindeer Games III" at $15. It comes with antlers, Santa hat, a whip and a bottle of liquid courage. In short, it puts the rude back in Rudolph.
Adopt A Homecoming Animal
Adopt Siku, $55-$115, at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Lincoln Park Zoo completely overhauled its exhibits for penguins and polar bears, and the penguins' return in October and polar bear Siku's debut last month were high points of the year at the zoo. So, as usual, the zoo's Adopt an Animal program makes a great gift, but this year with featured arctic plush animals to choose from: a polar bear, a penguin and a snowy owl. A $55 package gets a stuffed animal and adoption certificate, while a $115 package includes zoo membership, meaning discounted parking and a zoo magazine subscription, along with other perks. It can be bought online, over the phone and at the zoo's Wild Things Gift Shop, 2001 N. Clark St. Keep in mind, though, that orders must be placed by Dec. 14 to ensure delivery by Christmas.
People Still Have The Power
Patti Smith New Year's Eve at the Park West, $65.
If you know someone still dreading the new year after this fall's turn of events — for whatever reason — there might be no better cure than ringing in New Year's Eve with punk poet and ever-inspirational presence Patti Smith at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave. Tickets at $65 to the intimate performance, with a capacity of 1,000, are still available this week, perhaps because she sold out a 70th birthday performance featuring her debut album, "Horses," the night before, Dec. 30, at the Riviera Theatre. In returning to her native Lincoln Park (Smith was born at the since-demolished Grant Hospital at Lincoln and Webster avenues) expect her to remind the audience at midnight that "People Have the Power."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.