With more than 400 treasure-filled antique shops dotting its scenic roads, the New England state of Maine offers plenty of vintage rarities to antique-seekers on holiday in Boston. With parts of the state just an hour north of Boston, it takes little effort to weave your way through Maine's bounty of antique stores in search of the best bargains. You never know what unexpected discoveries lie just around the corner…
The South Coast Trail
This 20 mile stretch of Route 1 offers the largest concentration of antique shops in Maine. Start your journey in York (America's oldest chartered city) at The York Antiques Gallery. Also a Simon Pearce signature store, it has over 30 booths and 65 cases of 18th and 19th century country, folk art and Americana. Continue your ride through Ogunquit and Wells towards Kennebunkport (summer home to former U. S. President George Bush). Set in a Wells historic 1685 mill house since 1971, family owned R. Jorgensen offers fine period antiques from 17th, 18th and 19th century America, England and France. Finish up in the northern city of Arundel where you’ll find antiques superstore Antiques USA packed with knickknacks, treasures and collectibles.
The Big Dipper Trail
When viewed on a map, this loop takes the shape of its namesake constellation. And when you drive the scenic trail, you’ll get starry eyed at the dozens of shops along its winding rural roads. Begin in the quaint historic town of Bethel, where you’ll find shops including the Steam Mill Antiques and Collectibles – an 1820 farmhouse packed with antiques, collectible objects and books, which earned the shop’s place in DownEast magazine’s “top five reasons to love Bethel” list. From Bethel, follow Route 2 to Mexico, where you create the dipper’s "pot" on Route 17 up the western side of the White Mountains and then Route 16 east to Rangeley. Route 4 takes you down the eastern side to the shop-lined streets of Farmington where you’ll discover Frost Antiques and Gifts, not only full of antiques but also collectible Frost Glassworks.
The Downeast Trail
Antiquing in Downeast Maine brings you to coves and beaches along a shoreline populated by eagles and seabirds. Begin in Ellsworth, where you’ll find Old Creamery Antiques Mall with everything from dazzling carnival glass pieces to early country cupboards acting as display cabinets. Head south on 172 through Surry, then south on scenic coastal 176 to Blue Hill, where you’ll find textiles, furniture and handcrafted pottery in stores such as Emerson Antiques. Grab 172 again and go south to Sedgewick, keeping an eye out for the small antique shops along the way. Or leave Ellsworth west on Route 1 towards Bucksport, where soon you’ll discover Big Chicken Barn Books and Antiques; 21,600 square feet of porcelain, pottery, silver, tin ware, brass, jewellery, fabric, needlework, glass, china, flatware and furniture. Its second storey houses over 150,000 books and 20,000 magazines.
Have you been bargain hunting in Maine? Where do you go for the best antique shopping in the area? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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About the author: CherylCheryl Fenton
A Boston native, Cheryl Fenton is no stranger to the goings on and hot spots of her favorite city. Throughout her 15-year freelance career in dining, fashion, beauty and travel, Cheryl has covered it all for local magazines and websites including Stuff, The Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, mysecretboston.com and Boston Common. You can also find her national bylines in glossies such as Glamour, Cooking Light, and Wallpaper. In her spare time, what little there is, Cheryl strolls the city with coffee in hand, always looking for what’s next on the agenda.