New England offers one of the best areas for antiques in the country—and not just overly ornate furnishings that look like they should be in a funeral parlor, but quirky items with fine design that can transform a room. Take advantage of our collective history to furnish your own place. We highlight some of the best antique hunting grounds near Boston below, and a few worth a longer drive.
Close to home
1. Charles Street. Yes, it’s tony, but don’t be afraid to explore—not only is Beacon Hill a beautiful and uber-walkable neighborhood, but there are reasonably priced items, too. Plus, an outing here will help you spot bargains elsewhere. Check out Eugene Galleries (76 Charles St., 617-227-3062), a shop overflowing with charming historical and botanical prints, many Boston- and New England–themed, at realistic prices ($20-40). Friendly and knowledgeable owner Barbara can also help you affordably frame the finds you discover—an easy way to add instant originality to your walls.
2. Cambridge Antique Market (201 Monsignor O’Brien Highway, Cambridge, 617-868-9655). This perennial local favorite is well-loved for a reason: its five floors house a trove of serendipitous finds. Breeze through the first floor and head upstairs for more curated options. Then stop by the basement: its selection of newer furniture is worth a look (as are the bike shop and framing service there). Some parking is available, though it’s also right across the street from the Lechmere T stop. Providence has a similar indoor market, the Rhode Island Antiques Mall (345 Fountain St., Pawtucket, RI, 401-475-3400), but it’s pricier, and this one is in the neighborhood.
Full frame shot of Booth 1313, located on the 1st FL @ CAM..."Lookin' GOOD, Cheryl!" pic.twitter.com/y1HOKHRETZ— Camb Antique Market (@AntiqueMktCAM) March 21, 2015
3. SoWa Vintage Market (450 Harrison Ave.). If weekends see you sleeping in, too tuckered to make a long drive, check out this South End indoor market, open Sundays 10-4 year-round. Prices can reflect its cityside location, but the brick-lined warehouse is still worth an outing. Starting May 3, an adjoining outdoor market will host local farmers, artists, and artisans (460C Harrison Ave., summer weekends). If you prefer a drive, the Canal Street Antique Mall in Lawrence (181 Canal St., No. 7, 978-685-1441) offers a similar setting and selection, and you may score more deals.
4. Architectural salvage shops. Wondering where to get reclaimed wood or an original clawfoot tub? The answer is architectural salvage shops—a green alternative to big-box stores for cabinetry, doors, fixtures, sinks, even furniture. Close to home, Boston’s Restoration Resources (1946 Washington St., 617-542-3033), Boston Building Resources in Mission Hill (100 Terrace St., 617-442-2262), and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore (1580 VFW Parkway, W. Roxbury, 617-327-1170) all offer great options. Further out, Portland Architectural Salvage (131 Preble St., Portland, ME, 207-780-0634) is a favorite for northern New England–sourced upcycling you might not find locally.
Whether you’re making a day of it or taking a weekend, here are a few good longer drives.
5. Oldies (27 Water St., Newburyport, 978-465-0643). Imagine an antiques shop run by your grandparents’ friends, and you’ll have a sense of this former boat barn on the water in Newburyport. To make a day of it, combine it with a morning brunching in one of southern New England’s most picturesque towns, or bring your dog for a hike—it’s right off the bike path as well as dog-friendly. Then pass through Main Street in Essex on the way back—just an hour from Boston, this seaside Cape Ann town harbors some of Massachusetts’ best antique shops, most within walking distance of one another (http://www.visitessexma.com for directions).
6. Just L (35 Main St., Littleton, NH, 603-259-3125; https://www.facebook.com/MidModLiving for current selection). Why spend all your time on Craig’s List searching for estate sales, which take more time to get to and may not yield a gem worth the trip? A trip to Just L is much more efficient. The owner scours estate sales all over New England for wonderful specimens of mid-century modern and other unusual furnishings, then displays them in a shop that has won fans all the way to Cape Cod. South Boston’s Machine Age (645 Summer Street on Pappas Way, 617-464-0099) offers a pristine selection from the same era, but you’ll find Boston-style prices there too. To make a day of it, pass through New Hampshire’s Route 4 on your way. Known as “Antique Alley,’’ this 40-mile stretch from the Lee traffic circle to Chichester will bring you past some of state’s best antique shops (http://www.nhantiquealley.com for directions).
7. Todd Farm Antiques Show and Flea Market(283 Main St., Rowley, MA, 978-948-3300). Sure, you can go to Brimfield (http://brimfieldshow.org for dates and directions), the antiques destination nationwide, but you’ll be competing with the pros for high-priced finds. For a more laidback experience, just go to Todd Farm. This antique show and flea market, just 45 minutes from Boston, is more low key than Brimfield, but still huge and a great place to strike a deal. It’s dog- and kid-friendly grounds make for a great family outing, though facilities are few, so plan to eat elsewhere.