Antiquing in Central Florida

By: Kristine Hughes

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For antiques aficionados, Central Florida’s antiques loop is the X on the treasure map. Block off several days to explore the shopping trail through Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Plant City and Lake Wales.

If your shopping style leans more toward the classics, you have to explore Florida’s Antiques Loop. Located in central Florida on Highways US 27, Florida 70 and US 17, the Loop includes Lakeland, Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Plant City and Lake Wales.

A modified trip, with judicious selection of stops, can be made in a weekend, but if you’re a true antiques buff, you’ll want to block at least four days to cover all the stops along the way.

Below you’ll find antique shops that are perennial favorites, but this is by no means a complete or comprehensive list. Do your own research when heading out and visit the Florida Antique and Collectible website for more details on antique shops and fairs around the State. 

Lakeland

Lakeland is known for several things: it’s the home of the largest single site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designs (at Florida Southern College), Publix Super Markets have their headquarters here and it was the site of the very first Red Lobster restaurant.

Lakeland is home to many antique venues including the popular Lloyd's Lakeland Antiques and Thom Downs Antiques.

Lloyd's Lakeland Antiques is a two-story, multi-dealer mall located in Lakeland's historic downtown district. This is an “old curiosity shop” type of place with many items including art, pottery, glass, furniture and collectibles still in the affordable price range. Art pottery on hand includes Majolica, Wedgwood, McCoy, Roseville, Weller, Rookwood, Fenton, Depression and Early Pressed Glass. 301 North Kentucky Ave., Lakeland. Phone: 863-682-2787.

Thom Downs Antiques is run by Thom Down, who travels the world sourcing quality antique furniture pieces. The warehouse-sized shop is a veritable warren of furniture, lighting and art pieces that are excellent examples of their individual styles. You’ll find fabulous furniture, both single pieces and entire suites, many of which feature intricate carvings, impressive scale or hand-chased bronze work representing many styles and periods. Occasional pieces, chests and armoires can also be found here, as well as many fine reclamation items such as period fireplace mantels, doors, windows and garden pieces. 235 North Florida Avenue, Lakeland. Phone: 863-688-3269.

If your trip around the Loop calls for an overnight stay in Lakeland, you must stay at the Terrace Hotel a member of the Preferred Boutiques and Historic Hotels of America. Built in 1924, the Terrace Hotel boasts period black-and-white ceramic tile and nostalgic furnishings.

The hotel's signature restaurant, The Terrace Grille, extends into the main foyer and features a superb Art Deco ceiling and fabulous food. A wide porch located at the entrance to the hotel is complete with comfortable seating and cocktail service, so you can enjoy a post shopping, pre-dinner cocktail in gracious style.

Winter Haven

Winter Haven, known for its “chain of lakes,” is also home to a few antiques shops that are chock full of wonderful goods.  

Classic Antiques was established in 1989 and is one of the area’s premier antique shops. The complex comprises over 4,500 square feet of antiques that include art glass, pottery, furniture, fine art, sterling silver and thousands of other items. One of the best antiques malls in the Antiques Triangle. 279 W. Central Ave., corner of Third St., Winter Haven. Phone: 863-294-6866 or 800-287-6866.

Stop by Treasure House Antiques (3309 Havendale Blvd., Winter Haven; phone: 863-297-3046.

Lake Alfred

Like many other Florida towns, Lake Alfred is experiencing a resurgence in its downtown historic district, which now boasts outdoor events, tree shaded sidewalks for strolling and many dining options. Biggar’s, which owns a large building in the heart of downtown, hosts several businesses including Biggar Antiques.

Packed with antique finds of all kinds, Biggar specializes in advertising signs, period store and retail items, Americana, architectural antiques, music, furniture, glassware, fishing/hunting gear, sporting goods, household items, an extensive line of gifts and the unusual. You just never know what you’re likely to fall across at Biggars. 140 W Haines Blvd, Lake Alfred. Phone: 863- 956-4853.

The Barn carries antiques big and small – armoires, sideboards, tables, chairs, beds, dressers and primitives, stained glass, cut glass and decorator pieces.

In addition, there’s The Stable, which contains designer wreaths, flower arrangements, baskets and a selection of prints, brass décor items, candles, holiday decorations and more. You’re going to be here a while, so you may as well have lunch at the Backporch Tearoom, where kids can have their very own teddy bear picnic.

One of the most beloved is Sherman’s Antiques, owned by Al Kitzmiller and Jerry Sherman. Located in a building that was also Lake Alfred's first post office, Sherman’s offers antiques, artwork, furniture, glass collectibles and more, all artfully staged and presented by Al (who regularly stages the interiors of homes for real estate open houses).

What makes Sherman’s unique is that it sells period dolls and stuffed animals, and houses a Doll Hospital, presided over by Jerry. Being a doll doctor is truly a dying art, so Jerry’s expertise is appreciated by loyal customers all over the world. Jerry lovingly restores dolls for private clients and museums and fashions doll clothing to suit each doll. Don’t leave without trying the freshly made popcorn they usually have on hand. 155 E. Haines Blvd. Lake Alfred, FL 33850. Phone: 863-224-0395

Last but not least is the Back Yard Garden Shop, offering garden and lawn accessories that run the gamut from topiaries to fountains to garden architecture. While walking the property, stop by the dock and feed the always-hungry native fish. County Road 557, Lake Alfred. Phone: 863-956-0691 

You’ll also want to stop by Potpourri Antiques at (144 W Haines Blvd, Lake Alfred; phone: 863-956-5535).

Where to stay: Chalet Suzanne Country Inn and Restaurant, a charming, slightly quirky inn located about 15 miles outside of Lake Alfred. Welcoming guests for over 75 years, the Chalet is known for its hospitality, its food and its soup cannery (the soup has even been eaten by astronauts in space). Nestled on over 100 acres, the inn offers 27 guest rooms and includes a pool, lake and an airstrip. 

Plant City

Renowned for its annual Florida Strawberry Festival that runs from late February to early March, Plant City also has a well-deserved reputation for being the home of many fine antique shops. 

At Collins Street Junction (117 N. Collins St., Plant City; phone: 813-659-2585), you’ll find 5,500 square feet of antiques and collectibles housed in an historic downtown building. Antiques & Treasures (107 N. Collins St., Plant City; phone: 813-752-4626) is a multi-dealer shop featuring glassware, linens, pottery, tools and much more.

Nearby: Speaking of antiques, check out nearby Dinosaur World, where you’ll find over 200 life-sized replicas of various species of dinosaurs. There’s also a museum, fossil dig, movie cave, playground and gift shop.

Lake Wales

In downtown Lake Wales, a commercial historic district offers visitors important examples of architecture from the period of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, as well as many antique shops and dining venues.

You’ll want to stop in at All About Antiques (415 N. Scenic Hwy 17; phone: 863-676-7411) and at Inglenook Antiques & Collectibles (3607 North Scenic Highway, Lake Wales; phone: 863-678-1641), housed in a quaint pre-1920s home. This shop is filled with an eclectic variety of by-gone collectibles and antiques, as well as reference books, herbal products, and alternative health books.

Yesterday's Treasures is a large combination antique and gift shop with thousands of items on hand at any given time. From antiques to collectibles and objects d'art, you’ll want to spend a good amount of time browsing their wares. Open seasonally from November to March. 125 West Park Avenue, Lake Wales. Phone: 863-678-3588.

Nearby: In 1921, Edward W. Bok began work on extensive gardens and a bird sanctuary. Today, the Bok Tower Gardens offers visitors the chance to stroll and appreciate the beauty of the gardens, which also include an Art Deco Singing Tower carillon and the Pinewood Estate Mediteranean-style estate built in the early 1930s and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. Phone: 863-676-1408.

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