The antiquing scene in Central Texas is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. While markets in more expected places are picked over, the antique stores of Austin, New Braunfels and Fredericksburg are lush with bargains and hidden treasure for the dedicated enthusiast. Depending on how far you want to go from Kissing Tree, you’ll encounter a surprising number of quality antiques from every era – from Victorian charm to mid-century modern elegance.
There’s a reason this otherwise placid little town in the Texas Hill Country is a hot-spot for antiques. Wimberley draws on markets from San Antonio and Austin, living up to its history as a trading post. Once a mill town, Wimberley also has a wealth of historic homes and sites to tour, so making a day trip there can easily turn into a long weekend of antique hunting and soaking in the culture. While you’re there, you can soak in some of Central Texas’ best regional wines and local cuisine.
Not far from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Rainbow got its name in the 1890s when the community that settled there weathered a bad storm and saw a magnificent rainbow after it. It’s lived up to its beautiful name ever since, and although it only has a few hundred year-round residents, Rainbow’s antique mall is worth a drive. Go ahead and take the scenic route too; the countryside around Rainbow is some of the prettiest in Central Texas, and it’s unspoiled by strip malls and urban sprawl.
Founded in the 1840s, Fredericksburg has gorgeous historical buildings to go along with its lively antique markets. You’ll find the architecture and cuisine here has a uniquely German flavor, part of the town’s heritage. The antiques you discover here are likewise emblems of a long-standing link between Germany and Central Texas. Try the Red Baron Antique Mall for a range of what the area has to offer, including some magnificent German glassware and charming antique Christmas ornaments.
Between San Antonio and Austin, you’ll find tiny but bustling Gruene, the home of the country’s oldest dance hall. Although Gruene is now technically part of New Braunfels, it retains its own flavor and charm that’s distinct from that of its larger community. Tour Gruene Hall and the lovingly maintained old cotton gin there when you aren’t browsing the many antique stores in the town.
You’ll have to drive a ways to get to Marfa, but the trip is well worth it if you’re looking for something offbeat. The antique scene in Marfa is geared more toward the eclectic, even eccentric; you’re more likely to find an assortment of vintage 1950s aluminum ware than stately Victorian pieces, but that’s part of its charm. Be prepared for baking summer heat as you take in the sights, including minimalist art installations like the Chinati Foundation and the Prada Marfa. Sweeping desert vistas could inspire your artistic side too, so consider packing your camera or sketchbook along with your antique guides.