The Best Places to Go Antiquing Across the Country
These under-the-radar locales often turn out to be real treasure troves for collectibles. Uncover vintage rarities and one-of-a-kind finds in New York, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
Most people have probably never heard of Walnut, Iowa; Wiscasset, Maine; or Millerton, New York. They probably don't know of Hazel, Kentucky; Clinton, Tennessee; Adamstown, Pennsylvania; or Galena, Illinois, either. But if you're into vintage shopping, these are all places where you may very well uncover your next great collectible find. "What makes these towns stand apart is their surprisingly high concentration of antique shops," says Nicolas Martin, developer of fleamapket, an app that offers a directory of antique stores and flea markets worldwide.
Take the town of Hazel, for example. At last count, this southern hamlet of 407 citizens had 14 antique shops, the majority of which are within throwing distance of each other on Main Street (there's no getting lost while looking for antiques in a small town—just head to Main Street and you'll be on the right path). Like its fellow antique shop towns, Hazel offers friendly service, a vast selection of goods from furniture to jewelry and prices that will make you keep going back for more. And while better-known and more prestigious cities like San Francisco, Charlotte in South Carolina, and Palm Beach in Florida, offer a wealth of antique stores too, they're scattered over a vast area and don't come close to having the charm and coziness of their counterparts in small-town America. In the towns outlined here, you'll also find equally charming restaurants, hotels, and inns to turn your visit into a relaxing vacation.
Whether you go antiquing every weekend or you're new to the world of unearthing treasures, it's worth checking out the following towns.
"Smaller towns tend to offer far better deals than big cities," says Martin. He could very well be describing Clinton, a southern charmer whose historic Main Street is home to more than 20 antique shops. They sell items like American and primitive period furnishings and hand-poured scented candles that visitors can't get enough of. Plan to browse at Burrville Antiques and the Shoppe at 350 Market.
Millerton, New York
Two hours north of New York City is Millerton, a small town with a big following. Antique lovers can find both high-end designs that have been expertly curated as well as "a shopping experience that's more akin to rummaging through your quirky aunt's basement," says Martin. Schedule stops at Millerton Antiques Center and B.W.'s Eagle Eye.
"Wiscasset has been home to some impressive antiquing finds that now adorn fine-art museums across the country," says Martin. Even so, there's still plenty of goods for visitors to take home, such as fine china, 18th and 19th century clothing, and pottery. Don't miss the offerings at Michael Dunn Antiques and Patricia Staubles Antiques.
What makes this Pennsylvania Dutch town special? For one thing, the locale attracts more than 500 dealers to its antiques district. For another, the town hosts a mega event, Antiques Extravaganza, three times a year, ensuring it lives up to its nickname, Antiques Capital USA. We suggest shopping at Stoudt's Black Angus Antique Mall and German Trading Post Antique Mall.
A town doesn't get a reputation as its state's best city for antiques by selling only midcentury modern. Walnut's 15 antique shops are filled with vintage glassware, fireplace mantles, and other aged beauties. In June more than 300 vendors and scores of shoppers descend on the town for the annual Walnut Antique Show, filling two indoor halls and 17 blocks—just about the entire town. You'll also want to check out Granary Mall and Mabel's Old Fashioned Rose.
You'd think being listed on the National Register of Historic Places would be this small Midwestern town's only claim to fame but its place in the world as a hotspot for antiques and collectibles like toys and jewelry makes it even more attractive. We like shopping at The Antique Mall and Peace of the Past.