Best Gift Boutique: Place to creep out your little sister
The Bone Room
The Bone Room 1569 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-5252 BoneRoom.com
A cross between a voodoo parlor and a museum back room, the Bone Room is crammed top to bottom with attic oddities from all over the world -- mounted stick insects, chicken feet, dried alligator heads, even a genuine human skeleton (not for sale). Just like a natural history museum, it's a place to gaze in wonder at the beauty, the majesty, and sometimes the just plain strangeness of the natural world. What better gift for the amateur naturalist in your life than a handful of porcupine quills -- or a walrus skull? Cramped, cluttered, and chaotic, the store has a haphazard charm, with stuffed raccoons dangling from the rafters and google-eyed, lacquered piranha slapped on the walls. On any given day, catch the store's mascot -- a giant albino Burmese python who has appeared a couple times in GQ photo spreads -- curled up in his tank. Even if you're squeamish about real animal parts, the Bone Room still carries a full selection of natural history books, field guides, and knickknacks. Word is it's just received a shipment of antique coffins. Better hurry while they're still in stock.