I'm an Interior Designer, and These Are My Favorite Antique Markets in New England

Get ready to find something special.

There is something distinctively sweet about growing up in Rhode Island.

Here, summer and warm fall days are filled with heading to the beach, hiking a favorite trail, or sipping a cold drink (preferably one with Autocrat in it, but that's a story for a different day). But, when the wind is whipping, or there's simply too much of a chill in the air, we have to seek alternatives. For me, that's always included venturing off to my favorite antique spots for a little treasure hunt.

As an interior designer (and a self-proclaimed antiquarian), I specialize in helping people not only make their house feel like a home but also to curate their spaces so they're filled with elements that are unique conversation starters, bespoke to their preferred design. Whether it's a small object or a more impactful piece, these are the items that I love searching for.

With this, I've gotten to intimately know some of the absolute best antique shops and fairs across the region. Here are a few of my favorites you should add to your must-see list the next time you visit New England.

Brimfield Antique Fair: Brimfield, Massachusetts

<p>Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure</p>

Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure

Nestled in the town of Brimfield, Massachusetts, is my favorite antique fair, aptly named Brimfield. The fair is held three times a year, each for a six-day stretch in May, July, and September. I've been visiting this fair for years, often sourcing for clients and holding onto dreams of what I can cram into my car for the haul home. Spread over seventeen fields, the avid — or even novice — antiquary can search for pieces while meandering through open-air and tented vendors from all over the country and some from around the world. Here, you'll find an array of objects, furniture, and art, ranging from an 18th-century settee to a Lichtenstein lithograph and loads of pottery. I love the carved wooden bowls by a vendor who imports them from Portugal, and the glass beads hung in troves from who knows where. And I can't forget all the vintage trinkets that can fill a shelf so nicely. I love to arrive early in the morning and hit the fields before the crowds are thick, with comfortable shoes on my feet and a few empty tote bags for my finds. Remember to bring sunscreen and cash (although Venmo is accepted by some). 

Elephant's Trunk Flea Market: New Milford, Connecticut

<p>Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure</p>

Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure

"Here for the hunt." That is what I often tell myself when I arrive at Elephant's Trunk Flea Market. As many travelers know, Connecticut is steeped in New England history (as well as antique stores), but what many don't know is that it's also the home of one of New England's largest outdoor flea markets. Vintage cufflinks, belt buckles, English spindle chairs, and old tools are just some of the items you may find here. If you need a snack, there are over a dozen food trucks ranging from Italian Ice to fried chicken. In the past few years, I've seen numbers of stone and gemstone collectors come to scour the tables laden with precious rocks and gardeners that attend just for the locally grown perennials. The fair is open every Sunday, April-December, and prides itself on gates that open for their advanced ticket holders at 5:30 a.m. If you're like me, grab a freshly brewed coffee and enjoy the stalls as early as possible.

The Entire State of Rhode Island

<p>Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure</p>

Tara Henriques/Travel + Leisure

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but the number of nonchalant antique stores throughout it proves that even the best New England antiquing doesn't need to be so grand.

I've grown up staring at the towering sculptures and rarities at Aardvark Antiques in Newport for as long as I can recall. This sizeable antique store was established in the '60s and is brimming with history that pours out of every corner. I come here for inspiration and treasures, with its vast range of sizable antique furnishings and lighting all the way to its carved Buddha from various time periods. I love walking along the rows of stained-glass panels and vintage rugs, hoping to find a home for them all.

Heading slightly up the coast is Wickford Antique & Estate Liquidators, where you will enter what used to be a Firehouse turned antique heaven. Recently, after browsing the main floor, I found myself curiously walking up the stairs and greeted by one of the largest antique wooden farm tables I have ever seen, chairs from every decade scattered thoughtfully around it, and art punctuating the walls above.

Up Next is the town of North Kingstown, home to Re Antiques. This antique store is for the buyer on a quest, as layers of antiques and vintage finds are stored from your feet to the ceiling. Asian and African sculptures, vintage lighting, art, furniture, and stacks of books can be found just about everywhere, so take your time and look at them all.

The last stop is the Rhode Island Antique Mall in Pawtucket. You will spend countless hours roaming the aisles of collectibles, antiquities, and rare finds here. Before coming, I try to map out a plan because it's so big. I usually start on the main floor and then make my way down to the second level, which is packed with more than 30 vendors. I go here specifically for vintage magazines, collectibles, mid-century modern furniture, and porcelain. (I was lucky enough to score my very first piece of Royal Copenhagen here!) The parking is free, so stay for as long as you can.

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