By Jennifer Brunton
Maybe you collect perennially hip mid-century modern furniture. Or maybe all-American handicrafts from centuries past or one-of-a-kind silverware sets are your thing.
Whatever you’re seeking, here are five of the finest, most fun places in the country to shop for antiques. You’ll also find tips for lodging and dining that will enhance your experience after you’ve finished the day’s treasure-hunting.
When it comes to antiquing, Atlanta has a lot going for it. The Scott Antique Markets, which have been called “the world’s largest indoor antique market,” take place each month at the Atlanta Expo Center. You’ll find a lavish selection of distinctive collector’s items offered by independent vendors from all over the world.
But the Scott Antique Markets aren’t Atlanta’s only stellar antiquing destination. You can also stroll through the Bennett Street Design District in the city’s swanky Buckhead neighborhood. Converted warehouses hold vintage treasures, art and other decorative objects.
Where to eat and stay: Grab a bite at the airy, trendy Redbird restaurant. Its retro-Southern dishes—think savory garlic shrimp and sugar cream pie—will ensure that you go home happy after a full day of shopping. Rest your head at the Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast, a refurbished cotton sorting mill filled with vintage furnishings and local art.
Hudson, New York
This picturesque town on the Hudson River was an art and design hub long before it became a weekend hot spot.
In the nineteenth century, wealthy merchants built beautiful houses—and filled them up with beautiful furniture. The town also became a center for Hudson River School landscape painters like Frederic Edwin Church. His estate, Olana, welcomes art and architecture buffs on the outskirts of town.
That legacy of fine furnishings, art and great design makes for extraordinary antiquing today. Dozens of high-end antique shops make Hudson a key destination for in-the-know shoppers in search of exquisite second-hand pieces. The enticingly decorated store windows in Hudson’s handsome downtown are alone worth the trip.
As you explore the varied venues along buzzy Warren Street, you’ll be amazed by all the wonders this small riverside community of less than 7,000 people has to offer.
Where to eat and stay: Hudson’s become a coveted weekend destination for New York City residents, so lodging can be at a premium. Try The Hudson Milliner, a converted 19th-century hat shop, known for its incredible industrial-inspired décor—and marvelous views.
Consistently one of Hudson’s top-rated restaurants, Swoon earns its accolades with tempting farm-to-table cuisine, including a local duck breast with shitake mushrooms, glazed rutabaga, red dandelions, pickled rhubarb and duck reduction.
Galena, a small town near Chicago, is definitely punching above its weight in the antiques trade.
The ornate Late Victorian brick edifices of the Galena Historic District set the antique-focused tone for this quaint municipality. In addition to its many shops, this area hosts an antique mall that houses more than 55 individual stands.
Visit the Helluva Half Mile for abundant browsing options along a picturesque street. You’ll find more than 125 welcoming storefronts, some featuring vintage finds and others newer home goods and other items, including clothes.
Where to eat and stay: The elegantly furnished Aldrich Guest House was once a private residence that hosted Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. This quiet refuge is within walking distance of all of downtown Galena’s charms, so it serves as a perfect base for hunting goodies from the past.
For old-school Italian eats, try Vinny Vanucchi’s, where the red and white checkered tablecloths and grapevine-heavy decor will have you singing “That’s Amore.”
Known as “Antiques Capital, USA,” Adamstown boasts a 7-mile stretch of road that’s a paradise for collectors of all sorts. There are more than 5,000 dealers selling vintage wares if you count all of the stores and the vendors at the indoor and outdoor markets. It’s easy to see how the place got its nickname.
You can spend days sorting through the impressive array of antique carved furniture, architectural fragments and salvaged stained-glass windows. Smaller items, such as toys, clothing, housewares and jewelry also abound.
Located in Lancaster County—home to the country’s oldest Amish settlement—Adamstown offers shoppers access to both amazing antiques and contemporary Amish craftsmanship. If you’re in the market for future heirlooms that will stand the test of time, a jaunt to this scenic town is an excellent bet.
Where to eat and stay: Get inspired to go retro at the antique-packed Amethyst Inn Bed & Breakfast, a vibrantly purple 1830s mansion with vistas over historic Main Street. Stoudts features Pennsylvania Dutch dishes, such as local corn fritters and a German sausage sandwich, to fuel your quest.
Palm Springs, California
If you’re searching for that special piece to add to your mid-century home furnishings, you’ll want to pop over to this desert town.
A mecca for the design-savvy, Palm Springs is known for its glamorous history and Modernist architectural marvels. Outfitting all those futuristic houses takes a lot of stylish swag. Naturally, many of the town’s myriad vintage venues showcase outstanding period designs.
Where to eat and stay: The Orbit In is a boutique Modernist-style hotel featuring mountain views and poolside breakfast. For a swell dinner reminiscent of the Rat Pack era, consider Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge, a favorite of Frank Sinatra and other visiting stars. Depending on when you dine, you may be able to hear live music while dining on traditional upscale fare, such as beef Wellington. And you might see some contemporary celebrities, too.
From vast markets brimming with treasures to tiny, charming shops curated by hyper-knowledgeable aficionados, there’s a perfect spot for every antiques buff in these five antiquing towns.
Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated splurge or a great deal, they’re fantastic places to score some great finds—and to treat yourself to top-notch lodging and dining while you’re at it.
A former academic turned freelance writer and editor, Jennifer Brunton lives and works in Vermont.
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