Antiques shops are spread far and wide over the country, but there may be no other spot more gilt-edged for antiquing than Cape Cod’s Route 6A. The road itself—also called the Old King’s Highway—is a treasure, lined with historic houses, ancient cemeteries, stone walls, views of salt marshes—and antique shops. Almost all of these shops are open year-round, but particularly in the off-season, it’s wise to call ahead.
Your day starts in Sagamore at Just Like Home Antiques & Gifts (Route 6A and Westdale Park, 508-888-2033), where owner Peg Wilson has filled her charming shop with collections of antiques and gifts with a vintage look, such as a line of Emma Bridgewater tableware. In a back room is a stunning example of Wilson’s specialty, vintage beds in brass and iron: a lovely 1920s restored iron bed ($600), made up with vintage linens.
Traveling east, Route 6A reveals more of classic Cape Cod, including a historic graveyard and grand houses. As you enter Sandwich, turn left on Tupper Road for the Sandwich Auction House (15 Tupper Road, 508-888-1926, www.sandwichauction.com). Sandwich Auction House holds several auctions a month; the monthly oriental rug auction is a highlight. One summer auction featured a stunning Tabriz carpet measuring just over 8 feet by 12 feet. Owner Duncan Gray opens the house for viewing.
Route 6A through Sandwich is a beautiful drive even if antiques aren’t on your mind. Watch for a glimpse of Sandy Neck Beach as you meander through this stretch of Cape Cod’s oldest town, founded in 1639. At Seaside Antiques (124 Route 6A, 508-888-1912), owner Sandra Tompkins considers her wares—antiques and treasures that are not old enough for the antique label—as one way to go green. Why buy a new blanket chest when you can purchase a gorgeous 1800s lift-top chest ($450)? Amble by the back door, where you’ll see a pretty view of two white church steeples rising above the treetops.
Further into Sandwich is the multifaceted Sandwich Antiques Center (131 Route 6A, 508-833-3600, www.sandwichantiquescenter.com). With 110 dealers represented, the goods here cover a wide swath of culture and history. Customers often ask to see the primitive furniture and Sandwich glass. But owner Peter Smith has charming décor items as well, including a charming 1800s portrait of a plump baby ($875). If you’re there on the hour, you’ll be treated to a chorus of chimes from the more than 50 grandfather clocks spread throughout the shop.
Further down the road in Sandwich is Maypop Antiques (161 Route 6A, 508-888-1230). Owner Paul Opacki has operated this shop—a converted gas station washed in white, plumped with banks of flowers, and worth a look on its own merits—for 25 years. Opacki’s spacious store is lined with tables of glass, china, jewelry, and furniture, including a late-18th century two-drawer tavern table in gorgeous cherry ($1,800).
Sandwich is the perfect home for a lovely shop operated by Toni Rencricca, her husband Nicholas, and daughter Nicole, who started out as collectors. Today they operate Antoinette’s Antiques & Collectibles in East Sandwich (350 Route 6A, 774-413-9799), which features several elegant rooms full of items, including ephemera, glass, jewelry, and coins. Many people stop in to see their collection of cameos, some carved from shell ($40-$850). One entire room is devoted to books and paper.
Edythe Davinis has set up her shop, Edythe & Co. Antiques (433 Route 6A, 508-888-8843) in stylish vignettes, so that customers can better picture how her pieces will fit in their own homes. She loves decorative goods and garden antiques with a little quirkiness. One show-stopper is a shell-encrusted art deco table with a floral design she found at a Paris flea market ($1,950). The store has a sister shop, Trade Secret Antiques, in Osterville.
Look carefully, or you may miss Horsefeathers Antiques (454 Route 6A, 508-888-5298; call first), and that would be a shame. Owner Jeanne Gresham’s confection is filled with antique and vintage baby clothing and handkerchiefs. One adorable example is a peach-colored cotton netting dress with stunning embroidery, circa 1930s ($110). Parents and grandparents will be utterly charmed.
The towns along Route 6A slip from one to the next and before you know it, you’re in West Barnstable. West Barnstable Antiques (625 Route 6A, 508-362-2047) is operated by Walter Munday, a font of knowledge for his fascinating collection of antiques. The eye goes immediately to shelves of navigation and surveying instruments. Before you leave, be sure to ask Walter to demonstrate the Polyphon Euphonion, a German-made music box that is almost four feet high and plays music in outstanding fashion.
At famous West Barnstable Table, just of Route 6A on Meetinghouse Way, the work of more than 14 craftspersons is represented in galleries full of newly crafted antique-style furniture and folk art items, housed in a large barn and an antique cranberry sorting building. This Cape Cod gem (2454 Meetinghouse Way, 508-362-2676) of a shop has been in business since 1970, providing custom order, beautifully designed tables, chairs, and other furniture that are sure to become treasured antiques for generations.
Route 6A takes a jog left at the intersection with Route 132 and continues its stretch of historic homes, bed-and-breakfast inns, and galleries. It’s the perfect time to pause, because the center of Barnstable Village is just ahead, an excellent place to stop for lunch or coffee. When you continue on your way east, notice the flower-banked stone walls, many of them pieces of Cape Cod history.
At Route 149, turn right for a one-of-a-kind antiques shop. The Barnstable Stove Shop (2481 Route 149, 508-362-9913), situated between the ancient cemetery and the old train depot, is owner Doug Pacheco’s incredible collection of stoves. Among the stoves are other antiques for sale, including tools, tiles, and stained glass windows. His must-see collection of restored antique kitchen ranges and parlor stoves includes a restored 1891 coal/wood stove embellished with a figurine of a Greco-Roman woman, angel heads, cherubs, and serpents, and set on a nickel claw-foot base stand ($8,500).
Eldred’s Auction House (1483 Route 6A, East Dennis, 508-385-3116, www.eldreds.com), set behind an antique sea captain’s house, is a Cape Cod tradition operated for over 60 years by the Eldred family. Almost all the art auctions feature antique artworks. Josh Eldred mentioned an auction last summer that featured a Ralph Cahoon painting, “A Shocking Incident at The Boston Public Garden” (total price: $207,000), which set a world record auction price for Cahoon’s work. Auction items may be previewed the day before every auction.
East Dennis Antiques (1514 Route 6A, 508-385-7651, www.eastdennisantiques.com) is situated in one of the many antique homes that line Route 6A. The shop is filled with fine furniture, paintings, and specialties such as antique frames and nautical items. One beauty is a “sailor’s silk,” a Japanese embroidered silk piece that commemorates a young sailor’s tour with the U.S. Navy ($2,500).
Set in a 1780s half-Cape, Spyglass Antiques (2257 Main Street, Brewster, 508-896-4423), focuses on 18th and 19th century maritime antiques and nautical instruments, such as antique barometers, telescopes, sailor-made folk art, and early American furniture and paintings. One item near and dear to owner Brad Finch is a turn-of- the-century ship’s figurehead of a mermaid set on a custom-made base ($10,500). As one of the oldest nautical shops on the Cape, Spyglass is a perfect place to cap your day.