If you’ve been to Ikea often enough that you can easily navigate your way out, it may be time to redecorate your home or apartment. If your pad is lacking historical character, redecorating also gives you a reason to sneak away on a road trip to New England. The region is jam-packed with stores full of antiques and collectibles and makes a perfect combo trip with a romantic summer vacation or a leaf-peeping fall getaway. A Classic Antique Chest — Photo courtesy of mckaysavage/Flickr
Once an industrial town, Putnam Connecticut is now a home to a dozen antiques shops within a four-block area, including a four-story marketplace with more than 350 dealers. When it’s time to take a break from shopping, the one-mile River Mills Heritage Trail links together six historic mills and two additional historic buildings. Just an hour and a half from Boston, Putnam makes for an easy overnight trip, although lodging options are sparse in town. The Whitehaven Inn is a spacious and cozy option with outstanding breakfast, and is a model choice for couples.
Even though it is a small island, Nantucket has its share of antique shops and is ideal for those seeking nautical knickknacks. Nine shops are conveniently located in the downtown area, along with a slew of high-end artisan and souvenir vendors. Stroll down Easy Street and you’ll find the Antique Depot and Easy Street Antiques for furniture, linens, porcelain items, and Nantucket-specific paintings and artwork. Nina Hellman's (on Centre Street) boasts a large collection of scrimshaw and other whaling memorabilia. Prices on the island tend to be higher than other areas of New England, but you can uncover some truly unique collectibles.Easy Street Antiques in Nantucket — Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan
Maine's Scenic Highways
More than 400 antique and collectible shops line Maine’s scenic highways - not to mention numerous lobster shacks. Lobster and antiquing are a match made in heaven, so take your time exploring. The downeast trail begins in Ellsworth in Sedgewick, and in addition to Native American antiques, there are also opportunities to learn the art of basket making. Keep your eyes peeled on the road, as there are several shops scattered along route 175. Little Deer Isle is an artist-rich community with plenty of opportunities to browse galleries and take home original paintings, photography, hand-made jewelry and sculptures. If you have plenty of time, try the Big Dipper Trail from Bethel to Farmington or the South Coast Trail along Route 1 from the breathtaking cliffs of York to Kennebunkport.
Southern Vermont is a treasure trove of antique villages, nostalgic country shores and pristine wilderness laced with superb hiking trails. In Bennington, the Shops at Camelot Village are a collection of 18th-century barns that are home to 140 antique dealers as well as vendors selling Vermont cheese, candy and maple syrup. Wilmington is another prime area for those seeking the thrill of the hunt, where you'll find everything from quilts, native artifacts and vintage coins to grandiose furniture.Tallulah's Antique's Wilmington Vermont — Photo courtesy of rickpilot_2000/Flickr