Art and history lovers looking to take their own antiques road trips state-side this spring will find no better destination to grab a vintage bargain than in the six states of New England, a region which boasts some of America’s richest history and most prized collectables.
The region boasts several designated scenic driving trails brimming with treasures: awe-inspiring vistas and mountains, historic towns with familiar names and some of America’s quirkiest collections from antique cars and carousels to 17th century artworks, furniture, jewellery and priceless Colonial antiques.
Find antiques and heritage dating back to 1636 in America’s smallest state, Rhode Island. This trail loops through Providence, exploring much of the antiques and arts district. Visit Red Bridge Antiques for its collections of New England painters and sculptors, and Nostalgia for its antique homeware and jewellery. En route, take in exhibits at the Providence Art Club, one of America’s oldest, Colonial antiques such as pewter used in the Revolutionary War at Daggett House, the birthplace of American Industry at the 1793 Slater Watermill, the Museum of Work and Culture, and antiques on display at Smith-Appleby House. A short drive away in Newport, find an abundance of antiques and collectables on display at the famous Newport Mansions.
‘Antiques Alley’ in Southern New Hampshire
Take Route 4, dubbed “Antiques Alley”, through Southern New Hampshire’s unrivalled scenery and New England’s oldest antiques districts. The route is home to over 500 dealers and journeys from Chichester to Durham, visiting antique districts in Northwood, Lee, Epsom and Chichester. Popular antique ‘hot spots’ include Lee Circle Antiques & Market for furniture and china, and The Betty House for unusual antique woodworker tools. Soak up the history of the state capital Concord along the way, or dabble in some hiking, rock climbing or water skiing in the state’s picturesque Lakes Region.
Massachusetts’s proportion of Route 1, known as the ‘Old King’s Highway’, is an old Native American trail which today combines antiques with stunning vistas. Set out on a route which once connected farmers and early settlers to find the historic towns Barnstable, Sandwich, Yarmouth, Brewster, Bourne and Dennis, all of which offer distinctive arts and antiques districts. Highlights include the Antiques Center of Cape Cod, home to a broad range of antiques from hundreds of dealers, and Wisteria Antiques, a converted Victorian home turned antiques store. Try on one of route’s many biking trails for stunning views of Cape Cod, or explore historic Sandwich where travellers will find the Heritage Museum & Gardens which boasts a stunning property, flower garden, antique carousel and museum of classic American cars.
The Connecticut Antiques Trail journeys through rolling countryside and historic towns from Hartford, to the picturesque village of Woodbury, the state’s antiques capital. With its white-steepled churches and restored colonial homes, the village is at the heart of the trail and boasts some 60 antique sites such as at Walin Frey Antiques, where 17th to 19th century American art and furniture can be found. Other village sites boast porcelain, Art Deco collectables, unusual watches, books, furniture and jewellery. Alternatively, the Stratford Antique Center is home to over 200 dealers, and the Antiques Marketplace is home to 18th and 19th century items and can be found in Putnam.
Take in stunning coastline and one of New England’s largest concentrations of antique shops along Maine’s proportion of US Route 1. Set off from historic York, America’s oldest chartered city, and travel north along the coast through Wells and Kennebunkport to Arundel which is home to many of the state’s best antique shops. Popular stores include Antiques USA, a “superstore” of international collectables, Antiques On Nine for an extensive range of antique furniture and Henman’s Antiques for stunning art. Cruise by stunning coastal sites such as Walker’s Point (the summer home of former US President George Bush), Perkins Cove in Ogunquit and the Cliff Walk in York which offers views over rocky shores. Complete the coastal exploration by touring a lighthouse or by taking to the water with local fishermen on a lobster boat tour.
Vermont’s Scenic Route 100 may be famous for its skiing and the stunning Green Mountains but the trail is also blazing the way for collectors of fine arts and antiques. Starting in Wilmington and ending at the Canadian border, discover historic towns such as Bennington, home to the state’s largest antiques centre, Antiques at Camelot. There are a plethora of shops along the way such as the Windham Antique Center, home to quirky but fine quality decorative antiques. Conway’s Antiques in Rutland is home to fine items from America and China and Mill House Antiques & Gardens boasts a large array of pristine fine art and antiques. Take advantage of the walking, lake fishing, cycling and golfing in the Green Mountains, or explore historic sites related to the former US President Coolidge including his historic birthplace and artisan cheese shop near Plymouth.
To learn more about New England, visit www.discovernewengland.co.uk