Top U.S. Towns for Summer Antiquing

Photo by Liam Quinn via Flickr

This summer, on your way back from the sandy beaches and emerald green forests that make for lifelong vacation memories, skip the trinket shop and opt instead for a keepsake you’ll cherish for years to come. Your summer vacation is a perfect opportunity to treasure hunt for a special new antique (or two) for your home, a distinct reminder of the people and places that made your summer vacation so special.

Here are some of our favorite towns across the US for antiquing and tips for finding some of your own treasures while you’re traveling this summer.

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

New Hope, Bucks County. Photo courtesy of Visit Bucks County

Bucks County is a not-so-secret bastion of antiquing bliss. Located within driving distance of Philadelphia and many points in New Jersey. There is a strong focus on items from the Pennsylvania Dutch and early American handicrafts so look to find handcrafted quilts, cross-stitch, rustic handmade furnishings and more. There are also countless European-style pieces to be found of exceptional quality and craftsmanship among the many dealers and shops of Bucks County.

For a well-curated selection of colonial era furnishings, and 18th century finds head to G. Evans Antiques in Lambertville. It’s likely you’ll be able to find a piece of American history to bring home with you and appreciate for generations to come. Plan your trip through Bucks County with this comprehensive list of must-visit antique shops and vendors.

New Orleans, Louisiana

This lively southern city is more than gumbo and jazz (although what’s not to love about that?). New Orleans’ unique history and gulf-side geography have made it a repository for the treasures of French explorers, Spanish seamen, Southern aristocrats, and adventure seekers alike. It’s colorful creole history offers a French-influenced flair to the many artifacts you’ll likely uncover from a truly romantic era in American history.

For an outstanding selection of 18th and 19th century art and drawings in antique frames visit Balzac Antiques. The hocus pocus side of New Orleans with it’s voodoo magic, ghost stories, and vampiric lore add an element of the unknown to the oddities you may uncover.

Hudson, New York

A quick drive (or train ride) from New York City, Hudson boasts an active Main Street district with countless antique and art dealers to quench the appetite of any antique hunter. Styles and era vary in this upstate NY antiquing destination, but be prepared to find a fair amount of mid-century modern, Art Deco, as well as Art Nouveau pieces.

We recommend a stop at A. Sutter Antiques for refined 18th and 19th century European and Continental finds or check out Fern for more rustic wares if you happen to be in town.

Miami, Florida

Two words: Art Deco. Venture past the iconic hotel facades of South Beach and you’ll find the antique shops of Biscayne Bay offering hidden treasures of the deco style. Modern in their aesthetic and oozing with the fabric of what makes Miami such a visually appealing city, you’ll be sure to find bakelite galore as well as modern deco fixtures and decor.

We recommend making a stop at Stoneage Antiques in Back Bay for an eccentric collection of antique and vintage finds. or head to Alhambra Antiques in Coral Gables for a more well-refined selection of furnishings and art.

Charleston, South Carolina

Be sure to visit the King Street Antique District when spending salty summer days in this charming southern coastal town. Besides being absolutely gorgeous, Charleston is teeming with history and it shows in a plethora of antique finds to be had from nearly every era of American history. Not short on genteel southern charm, rustic finds include chandeliers, sconces, large ornate mirrors, elaborate furniture pieces (like carved bed frames) and fireplace mantels.

For high-end antique finds check out Golden Associates Antiques for fine furnishings and impressive chandeliers.

Wiscasset, Maine

Castle Tucker in Wiscasset. Photo by Rolf Müller via Wikimedia Commons

An antiquing mecca known far beyond this small New England town, Wiscasset has been home to some impressive antiquing finds that now adorn the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other fine-art museums across the country. True to its colonial past, and steeped in Revolutionary war era history you’ll be sure to find a fair amount of antique weaponry, books, and early folk art. The selection of China is also said to be superb in this tiny New England hamlet.

Our favorite spots include Water Street Antiques and Wiscasset Bay Gallery for a gorgeous selection of fine art.

Brimfield, Massachusetts

Brimfield Antiques Show. Photo by Barbara Bresnahan via Flickr

This legendary New England antique show plays hosts to over 6,000 dealers at 6 shows throughout the summer. What won’t you find here? With so many vendors, spread out across a square mile, it’s hard to imagine there is anything one couldn’t find at this market. From antique lighting fixtures, collectibles, antique furniture to estate jewelry, there is something for everyone.

Check out the Brimfield barn for an especially well curated collection of vintage lamps and lighting. This year’s market runs three separate weekends: May 10-15, July 12-17 and September 6-11.

Galena, Illinois

Historic downtown Galena. Photo by Joey Lax-Salinas via Flickr

Looking for a quick day trip from Chicago? Look no further than the quaint town of Galena, Illinois. With a main street that boasts several specialty antique shops you can find some very specific goods here.

Check out All That’s Vintage for a rare selection of antique games, toys and knick knacks. If antique jewelry is your thing then you’ll find several outposts, including Gustafsen & Grey, offering both antique and repurposed jewelry. Not sure what you’re in the market for, but want to browse? Then head to the Tin Pan Alley antique mall for a wide selection from dozens of vendors.

Los Angeles, California

A mecca for mid-century modern lovers, Los Angeles boasts an outstanding selection of Danish modern, Hollywood Regency (obviously) and dessert-inspired finds. It’s not uncommon to find furniture in near mint condition here thanks in part to a remarkably mild climate and little rain.

From the vintage shops of Silverlake and Los Feliz to the sprawling Rose Bowl Flea (held the second Sunday of every month), there are outlets galore to explore. We love The Joneses for their impeccably curated selection of mid-century modern furnishings, as well as The Hunt vintage for their especially nice selection of wood pieces. Check out Yelp’s full list of top vintage shops in LA.

Walnut, Iowa

Photo by Bill Whittaker via Wikimedia Commons

Have a cross country road trip planned? Why not make a pitstop in the heartland at the Walnut Antique show (June 17-19). You’ll find hundreds of dealers offering up a wide variety of antique goods and a dash of heartland hospitality. But plan ahead and get there early, this tiny town of roughly 700 gets overtaken by nearly 50,000 visitors for the annual antiquing event. Not going to be in town then?

Walnut hs been dubbed Antique City, so you’ll have plenty of shops to peruse anytime of year including The Barn Mall and Vintage Bulldog which specializes in antique electronics – think vintage fans and radios restored to working order.

Tips for Any Town

1) Find Main Street: Yes, row of shops, restaurants and locally-owned businesses still exist in many of America’s and often includes at least one great antique shop to peruse.

2) Look for Flea Market Fliers: When you’re at the grocery store stocking up on s’mores supplies, bug spray and sunscreen keep an eye out for local fliers that could clue you in on some prime antiquing finds. Don’t rule out street fairs and even the county fair itself for antiquing goodness.

3) Keep an Eye Out For Estate Sales: You not only get to search for keepsakes, but you’ll also get a truly insider take on how the residents make their home.

4) Ask the Locals: If you find a spot that has some good pieces, don’t be afraid to ask the purveyor where else you might find similar goods.

5) Experience a Live Auction: There’s nothing quite like the rush of a live auction; the auctioneer’s singsong voice, the thrill of placing your bid, and the adrenaline rush of winning a prized item. Can’t make it in person, but still want to bid on the go? Download Invaluable’s app for iPhone or iPad and stay up to date on sales around the world.