Livability: The 10 best U.S. cities for antique hunters
At Livability, we believe that one of the secrets to happiness is living someplace you truly love. And if your love of antiques and flea markets runs so deep you Google “best cities for antiquing” every weekend, well, this post is for you.
We assembled this roundup of cities with great antiques, flea markets and thrift stores because when you’re on the hunt for that perfect vintage piece or hidden treasure, location means everything. Whether you’re planning your destination for your next antiquing road trip or you’re looking to live — full time — somewhere with great antiquing and flea market-ing, read on, antique hunter, read on.
Des Moines, Iowa
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: It anchors the easternmost point of the Iowa Antiques Trail.
Why it’s a great place to live: Des Moines, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways: short commutes, nationally renowned farmers markets, a booming millennial population, tons of job opportunities and a median home price of $130,000. We could go on, but those are the highlights.
Best place to score an amazing deal: The DAV Thrift Store is a nonprofit secondhand store that supports disabled veterans.
Best place to buy an investment piece: The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall. With more than 450 vendors and 45,000 square feet of retail space, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. A 1930s stove for $500 or a pair of mid century lamps for $150? Yes, please.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Waveland Cafe claims to have the best hash browns in the galaxy and with 1,000+ 4.6 star Google reviews, maybe they’re right.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Take advantage of all the great antiques passed on by Florida’s retirees. Micanopy is just outside of Gainesville, which is not a destination usually associated with antiques, so you won’t have much competition in your hunt.
Why it’s a great place to live: Small-town charm and home prices (the official population is just 600 and the median home price is $185,000), just 18 minutes south of Gainesville. And it borders gorgeous Tuscawilla Preserve.
Best place to score an amazing deal: Outreach Thrift offers lower-than-usual thrift prices in a nicer-than-usual surroundings — think boutique-y shop fronts and nicely organized racks.
Best place to buy an investment piece: If your taste in antiques runs toward clothes more than furniture, check out Winters Past, for a beautifully curated selection of vintage clothes, jewelry, and accessories.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: With a name like Pearl Country Store And Barbecue you just know the food is going to be amazing. Try their ‘Country Boy’ breakfast special.
Eureka Springs, Ark.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: There are tons of antique stores, coupled with lots of hidden thrift store gems. Eureka Springs is a lovely destination with tons to do even if you’re not particularly into antiques (re: your good-natured-but-long-suffering partner or best friend.)
Why it’s a great place to live: It’s incredibly affordable. The median home price is $176,000. Also: it’s beautiful. Nestled in the Ozarks, it’s been a vacation destination since the 1800s and has long been known for its healing waters, Victorian architecture, historical significance and as a haven for artists.
Best place to score an amazing deal: The Good Shepherd Thrift Store donates its profits to the humane society and it’s filled with amazing deals — that’s a win/win. It was recently voted one of the best thrift stores in Northwest Arkansas.
Best place to buy an investment piece: Castle Antiques specializes in furniture, country primitives and stoneware. Between browsing, check out the gorgeous view.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Try the breakfast buffet at the Gazebo Restaurant in the Eureka Inn. It’s only $9.95.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Small, Midwestern cities are havens for un-picked-over, reasonably priced antiques.
Why it’s a great place to live: Richmond has won the All-America City Award not once, but twice. And it has beautiful architecture.
Best place to score an amazing deal: Abilities Thrift Store is a local second hand shop that trains differently-abled folks and sells very reasonably priced second hand goods. You’re sure to find some treasures here.
Best place to buy an investment piece: There are not one but two Antique Alley shopping routes near Richmond. Shop your way around the map and find your next dresser, end table or painting.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: In their own words, The Tin Lizzie Cafe is “a cross between your grandmother’s kitchen – where you can smell the comfort food cooking – and an eclectic museum.” Try the bagel and egg sandwich or a sandwich called “Unclaimed Happiness.”
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Lawrence is a win/win/win for antiquers — antiques are often more reasonably priced in the Midwest vs. the coasts. Antiques are usually more affordable in small cities vs. big cities. And because Lawrence is a college town and college kids are rarely interested in antiques, you won’t have much competition.
Why it’s a great place to live: Lawrence offers you the best of both worlds — a college town, small city vibe that’s only 40 minutes from Kansas City (population: 500,000).
Best place to score an amazing deal: The Social Service League Thrift Store is a treasure trove of affordable finds and overlooked vintage. If you’re a senior citizen, visit on a Wednesday for 60% off.
Best place to buy an investment piece: The Lawrence Antique Mall has something for every antique hunter — like a midcentury credenza for $499 or a set of carved chairs for $650.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: You haven’t visited Kansas if you haven’t eaten at local chain Big Biscuit. Be sure to order one of their signature Sticky Biscuits, an oversize biscuit loaded with raisins, cranberries, pecans and buttercream frosting.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Another city favored by retirees and all the vintage furniture they no longer want. Also: Scottsdale is a high-income city which means the flea markets and thrift stores haven’t been picked over.
Why it’s a great place to live: Scottsdale is regularly ranked as one of the best places to live and one of the best places to retire in the U.S. Why? There are equal opportunities to work (the city’s top employers include Honor Health, General Dynamics and a branch of the Mayo Clinic) and play — there are more than 200 golf courses and some of the hottest nightclubs in the region.
Best place to buy an investment piece: Twenty-five minutes south of Scottsdale, Vintage Joe’s is worth the drive — and it has the five-star Google ratings to prove it. Check out merchandise like a vintage guitar signed by Alice Cooper and first edition comic books.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Breakfast Club is an extremely beloved local haunt, with three locations spread over Scottsdale and Phoenix. Order their Huevos con Masa for a bit of Southwestern flair to start your day.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Long a haven for retired folks, Daytona Beach’s antique stores and flea markets are filled with vintage finds from thousands of transplants downsizing into their new, smaller homes. And antique lovers reap the benefits.
Why it’s a great place to live: Daytona’s median house price ($147,000) is $133,000 less than the national average.
Best place to score an amazing deal: City Thrift is a regional chain of thrift stores that’s clean, well-organized and well-managed. If you’re there on a Monday, be on the lookout for their weekly 50% deal.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: The Dancing Avocado Kitchen is located in adorable historic downtown Daytona and has vegetarian and carnivore-friendly menu options. Check out their sun dancer sandwich or their chocolate chip waffles.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Bethlehem was established in 1741, so you might just find Revolutionary War-era antiques here. And the antiques in Bethlehem tend to be more affordable than in other East Coast cities — much cheaper than similar items in Connecticut, Maine or Vermont.
Why it’s a great place to live: Bethlehem is storybook gorgeous; its historic downtown has been placed on the U.S. Tentative List for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s also relatively easy to find pretty, historic homes here for under $200,000.
Best place to score an amazing deal: Via Thrift Store. It’s huge, well-organized, the staff is friendly and all the proceeds go back into the community.
Best place to buy an investment piece: Easton Antique Emporium is 11 miles northeast of Bethlehem, but it’s worth the drive. You’ll find 30 vendors there, selling vintage books, dining sets, even old turntables and records.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Grab doughnuts at the award-winning Vegan Treats bakery. Try a coconut custard or vanilla soy chai doughnut.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Lexington smack-dab in the middle of the 127 Yard Sale route — also known as the world’s longest yard sale. That means you’ll have 60+ miles of great deals stretching in either direction.
Why it’s a great place to live: Lexington is one of Livability’s Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2019. If you’re a student or teacher, Lexington’s four colleges and universities make it a great city for you. It also has a strong economy and 130(!) public parks.
Best place to score an amazing deal: Lexington Peddlers’ Mall has hundreds of vendors in one spot and it’s open seven days a week.
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Coffee Times Coffee House is a Lexington institution; it’s been open since 1983. Grab a cup of their cappuccino tea (Cinnamon tea, steamed milk, and honey topped with homemade whipped cream) before you start shopping.
Why it’s a great place for antiquers: Small cities like Cullman are overlooked treasure troves of reasonably-priced antiques and thrift finds. And Cullman has tons of local boutiques and antique shops.
Why it’s a great place to live: There’s a surprising amount to do in this city of 16,000 — including a farmers market, an active downtown filled with local restaurants and boutiques and a busy festival calendar.
Best place to score an amazing deal: Explore 10,000 square feet of thrift finds and antiques at The Cullman Flea Market. With 250 vendors, you’re sure to find something great.
Best place to buy an investment piece: Southern Accents Architectural Antiques is a must-stop if you have a historic house and you’re trying to keep things period-appropriate. They have gorgeous sinks, bathtubs, doors, mantels — everything you need for your home. (We’re particularly enamored of this rare, double pedestal, two bowl sink for $2,250.)
Where to fuel up for a day of treasure-hunting: Grab a double gravy biscuit or the pecan pancakes at The Sunflower Bakery before you head out for a day of antiquing.