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The Best Places to Shop in New England

Where locals reveal the best places to shop for your New England vacations, including country stores, antiques, books, mom and pop stores, outlet shopping and malls. Includes shopping ideas for the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Brown and Hopkins Country Store, Chepachet, R.I.
Brown and Hopkins Country Store, Chepachet, R.I.

by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 3/13/17. All photos by Eric unless otherwise noted.

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New England is often thought of as a place for enjoying the ocean, the mountains, a lobster dinner and small charming towns with village greens, but shopping has become an integral part of the region's matrix. The country and general stores and locally-owned downtown shops still play a big role in the fabric of New England shopping. Cities like Boston, Mass., Portland, Maine and Providence, R.I., offer all the cosmopolitan shopping that we have come to know in world-class cities, while suburban shopping malls like the Emerald Square in North Attleboro, Mass., bring indoor shopping to the next level with modern, clean surroundings with updated and fully stocked chain stores.

Whatever your retail cup of tea, New England's shopping scene is as diverse as its wonderful topography. Near the mountains, beaches, country roads, suburbia and the cities resides a shopping experience that ranges from the familiar to the unique. In a nutshell, there's shopping for every taste, every generation and every need in New England.

Classic New England Country Stores and Old Time Stores

Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vermont
The Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt.

The classic Mom and Pop country stores that have made New England famous in the retail world like the Vermont Country Store, of Weston, Vt., help make New England a truly one-of-a-kind place to shop. This famous but still true-to-form country store sells clothing, candles, kitchen gadgets, furniture, Vermont maple syrup, old-fashioned New England fudge and sharp Vermont cheddar cheese and so many hard-to-find items from yesteryear in an authentic, large, creaky country store setting.  Brookfield Orchards in tiny North Brookfield, Mass., is a rural hidden gem  located in the middle of nowhere and offers a treasure of candles, antiques, collectibles, candies, jams, maple products, a book area, crafts, maps, toys, Vermont Cheddar Cheese and hundreds of more items. And here, you can enjoy a famous and delicious apple dumpling during this quaint shopping experience! Putnam, Conn., is known as the center of antique shopping in New England with 17 shops totalling 50,000 sq. ft. of merchandise  The most comprehensive place to antique shop in Putnam is the Antiques Marketplace, at 109 Main St. (860- 928-0442), with four floors of over 350 booths, showcasing more than 50,000 pieces of antiques spanning three centuries!  Brown and Hopkins Country Store in Chepachet, R.I., is a living piece of retail history, being, possibly, the oldest  continuously running country store in the United States -- dating back to 1809. It's a great country store with penny candy, locally produced maple syrup, Vermont cheddar cheese, candles, braided rugs, hand made country decor, art prints and historical prints. Zeb's General Store at 2675 South Main St. in North Conway, N.H., is the ultimate country store with its "organized clutter" of more than 5,000 inventory items. It's wildly popular, but has maintained its old-time, authentic country store feel with candy, crackers, jams and jellies, pickles, maple syrup and furnishings. It's a real trip down memory lane!

For more information on country stores, log onto the Best Country Stores in New England page

City Shopping with a Sense of History

Charm, history and preservation meet shopping, New England style

Faneuil Hall, BostonPictured left: Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market photo, Boston, Mass.

Faneuil Hall in Boston, Mass. (also known as Quincy Market), consists of the original 1742 building and two other restored buildings that house nearly 100 retail shops, restaurants, bakeries and ice cream stops. With its old brick look and outdoor dining opportunities, Faneuil Hall feels like the "hub" of Boston travel to many visitors.

The revitalized Port Exchange in Portland, Maine, features a mix of wonderfully restored 19th century architecture. With lots of bricks (sidewalks, buildings) Port Exchange offers locally-owned, unique stores (one store sells only moose merchandise), well-known but high quality regional places like Stonewall Kitchen and a good variety of restaurants and cafes. Add some skilled street musicians (with the exception of a few), making the gas lamp-lit Port Exchange a New England destination you'll want to return to again and again.

The historic Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vt., serves as the anchor to its downtown. With more than 100 places to shop and dine (including outdoor cafes), brick-paved walkways, fountains, historical architecture lending substance and character, and street musicians and other creative types adding a layer of personality and entertainment, this downtown district is surely one of New England's best.

Burlington VT - Church Street Marketplace

Church Street Marketplace, Burlington Vt. Photo credit: By Beyond My Ken (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsch Vermont.

The Mill Falls Marketplace in the heart of beautiful downtown Meredith, N.H., is a wonderfully revitalized former linen mill  featuring 11 shops and eight dining options in a rustic, charming traditional New England setting. A resort, brick walkways, flower gardens, a 40-foot waterfall, and views of Lake Winnipesaukee make this New Hampshire destination one of the most appealing in all of New England.

Mills Falls Marketplace, Meredith NH
Mills Falls Marketplace, Meredith, N.H.

Outlet Stores in New England

No shortage of outlet stores in New England -- every state has a noteworthy outlet store shopping destination!
Wrentham Outlets, Wrentham MA
Wrentham Premium Outlets, Wrentham, Mass.

Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, Clinton, Conn. - Seventy outlet stores, including Banana Republic, Barneys New York Outlet, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, Dooney & Bourke, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Westbrook Factory Outlets, Westbrook, Conn. - More than 65 outlet stores are right off Interstate 95, including Timberland, Factory Store, Rockport, Reebok, Nine West, and Hollister.

Freeport, Maine Outlets -Freeport, the home of the original L.L. Bean (still thriving and greatly expanded), now has more than 200 stores. The outlets essentially comprise the downtown, making it a shopper's paradise.

Kittery Premium Outlets, Kittery, Maine-- One of the oldest outlet shopping complexes in New England is also one of the best. More than 65 stores, and with close proximity to all the southern Maine coast has to offer, including beaches and seafood dining. Stores include Aeropostale, Izod, Adidas, Jones New York, Nike Factory Store, Bose and Yankee Candle. One of the most impressive outlets after all these years!

Prime Outlets, Lee, Mass. -- Near the New York State border, this outlet shopping center in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts (and right off Route 90) features more than 65 outlet stores, including Cole Haan, Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store, and Under Armour. Not the highest profile outlet complex, but a darn good one in an area starved for shopping opportunities.

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets, Wrentham, Mass.- Without a doubt, the most impressive -- and extensive -- shopping outlet center in New England with more than 170 outlet stores. Very well-designed with a nice layout and landscaping, the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets include Banana Republic, Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach, Elie Tahari, Hugo Boss, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Salvatore Ferragamo and Sony.

Settlers' Green Outdoor Village, North Conway, N.H. - Located in the beautiful White Mountains town of North Conway, Settlers' Green Outlet Village features over 60 stores, including Brooks Brothers, Carter's, Harry and David, Lindt, Stonewall Kitchen, Talbots and Zales Jewelry.

Tanger Outlets, Tilton, N.H. - A solid outlet shopping ceter featuring around 50 stores, located in the Lakes Region (not too far from beautiful Meredith and  Wolfeboro). Stores include Coach Factory, Liz Claiborne Skechers, PacSun, Rue21 and OshKosh B'gosh.

Manchester Designer Outlets, Manchester, Vt. - Manchester Village is one of New England's prettiest towns. Enjoy the classic Vermont feel here first and shop second. Manchester Designer Outlets doesn't have the high number of stores that others do, but seem to have all right places to shop, including Ann Taylor, Crabtree and Evelyn, J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, and Yankee Candle.

Patriot Place shopping photo, Foxboro, Mass.Outdoor Shopping and Entertainment Complexes around Boston

Making a return to the open air shopping destinations we grew up with -- but with a very modern, relevant touch

Pictured left - Patriot Place Shopping and Entertainment Complex, Foxboro, Mass. (photo by Eric H.)

Legacy Place, Dedham, Mass. (950 Providence Highway, Route 1) -- Looking like a mix of a modern outdoor shopping complex and a downtown business district, Legacy Place features a smart layout -- network of sidewalks, ambiant lighting, excellent landscaping, plenty of parking and well-defined cross walks. The largest Whole Foods Market in New England anchors this impressive work of modern retail construction that also includes P.F. Chang's Chinese Bistro, L.L. Bean, Anthropologie, Yankee Candle, Showcase Cinema de Lux, Clarks, Met Bar & Grill, Shake Shack, Amazon Books, Henry Bear's Park, Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio, King's 26,000 sq. ft. bowling alley and entertainment complex (amazing!), and J.P. Licks ice cream.

Patriot Place, Foxboro, Mass. (Route 1) -- Located at Gillette Stadium -- home of the New England Patriots -- the Patriot Place shopping and entertainment provides an extremely appealing and attractive outdoor presence.  There's an upscale movie theater (Cinema de Lux), several restaurants (Skipjack's, Davio's, Tavolino, Red Robin, CBS Scene, etc.), The Hall at Patriot Place (celebrating Patriots and New England football history), a great variety of shops (Bass Pro Shops, Victoria's Secret, Christmas Tree Shop, Reebok, Patriots Pro Shop, etc.), the Renaissance Boston Hotel and Spa, and Brigham and Women’s /Mass General Health Care Center.

Derby Street Shoppes (92-98 Derby St.) features a very pleasant open air environment with beautiful landscaping, walkways and 78 retailers including Whole Foods Market, Ann Taylor, Apple Store,  J. Crew, J. Jill, Joseph A. Bank, Williams Sonoma and Yankee Candle.

Mansfield Crossing, Mansfield, Mass. (School St.), is a sprawling, outdoor 400,000 square ft. shopping complex with a pond, wrought-iron benches and, or course, top-of-the-line stores including L.L. Bean, Coldwater Creek, Kohl's, Chico's, Ann Taylor Loft, Best Buy, and Michael's (arts and crafts). For dining, there's Bertucci's, T.G.I. Friday's and Papa Gino's. Mansfield Crossing is definitely a work in progress and not as attractive as Patriot Place or Legacy Place, but there's currently enough attractions --especially L.L. Bean -- to make for a very good shopping experience.

Mashpee Commons, Mashpee, Mass. (Cape Cod)Mashpee Commons in Mashpee, Mass. (Cape Cod, pictured left) (Steeple St.) offers an appealing mixed use downtown district that features about 80 percent local shops and 20 percent national chain stores. That's a refreshing chance of pace of the average shopping mall that houses around 90 percent national chains. Add intersecting streets with parrallel parking and well integrated apartment rentals and you have a downtown district that looks traditional but with a touch of sleek 21st century ingenuity.

Mashpee Commons will remind you of some New England traditional downtowns -- a little bit of Falmouth, a touch of Hyannis and a sampling of, perhaps, Melrose, Mass., East Greenwich, R.I., and Nashua, N.H. The difference is that its birth dates back to the late 1980s rather than one or two centuries ago. While this newly-manufactured district might turn some off due to its corporate-inspired visions, keep this in mind: all downtowns had to start from somewhere and it was the businesspeople that fueled the growth. That is no different than Mashpee Commons' creation -- and that many local residents are employed here. It's really the best of both worlds: a destination with a respect to the past and with an eye on the future as growth continues. And it sure beats what was here before: a strip of open land and a strip mall. As a result, Mashpee Commons has quickly become a Cape Cod destinations, but, most importantly, a place Mashpee residents can proudly call their own downtown.

The Natick Mall, Natick, MAIndoor Shopping Malls in New England
These new generation indoor retail architectural masterpieces with loads of shops aren't your grandma's shopping malls!

Pictured to the left - Natick Mall, Natick, Mass.

I remember when the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Mass., was just a farm field with cows.  How times have changed. Over the past 30 years, indoor shoppings malls have become a retail staple of New England shopping. Many indoor shopping malls feature well over 100 stores on two or more levels, including the aforementioned Burlington Mall (185 shops at Mall Rd.) and...

Copley Place, Boston, Mass. (100 Huntington Ave. App. 75 stores). Anchor stores: Neiman Marcus, Barney's New York

Natick Mall, Natick, Mass. (Route 9. App. 200 stores) Anchor stores: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Macy's, JC Penney, Lord and Taylor

South Shore Plaza, Braintree, Mass. (250 Granite St. App. 180 stores). Anchor stores: Lord and Taylor, Macy's, Nordstrom, Sears

Northshore Mall, Peabody, Mass.,  Peabody, Mass. (RT-128 N and RT-114 E. App.120 stores). Anchor stores: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Macy's Men' s & Home Store, JCPenney, Sears

Emerald Square Mall, North Attleboro, Mass. (Route 1 South. App.155 stores). Anchor stores: Macy's, JCPenney, Sears, Macy's Home Store and Macy's Men's Store

Cape Cod Mall, Hyannis, Mass. (Cape Cod). 769 Iyannough Rd.  Anchor stores: Macy's Apparel, Macy's Men/Home and Sears, Best Buy, Marshalls and Barnes & Noble

The Mall of New Hampshire, Manchester, N.H. (1500 South Willow St.). Anchor stores: Macy's, JC Penney, Sears and Best Buy

Pheasant Lane Mall, Nashua, N.H. (Daniel Webster Highway. App. 130 shops). Anchor stores: Sears, JC Penney, Macy's, Target

Providence Place, Providence, R.I. (One Providence Place. App. 170 stores). Anchor stores: JCPenney, Nordstrom, Macy's

Westfarms, Farmington, Conn. (213 Westfarms Mall #204A. App. 160 shops). Anchor stores: Macy's, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor, JCPenney

The Maine Mall, Portland, Maine (364 Maine Mall Rd., South Portland. App. 140 stores). Anchor stores: Sears, JC Penney, Macy's, Best Buy

Burlington Town Ceter Mall, Burlington, Vt. (48 Church St.). Anchor stores: Macy's, Old Navy


Feature Articles on Shoping in New England
Chutters in Littleton NH
Chutters in Littleton, N.H., features the longest candy counter in the world! (pictured above)
Park Street Books, Medfield, Mass.: the largest kids bookstore in New England
The Goldenrod in York Beach, Maine: A beloved summer tradition
Rating the best supermarket chains in Massachusetts
Wilson's Department Store in Greenfield, Mass: one of the last family-run department stores in the USA
Great apple cider, rustic shopping experience at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, Vt.
Chic 2 Charity in Stoughton, Mass., brings discount clothes shopping to new level
Affordable antique shopping at Jeremiah's in Putnam, Conn.
Visiting the historic Country Store in Petersham, Massachusetts
What's an authentic country store doing in a suburb like Mansfield, Mass.?
SPoT! in Norwood: bagel shop, old-time soda and candy store under one roof

Great country stores, not too far from Boston
Yankee Candle Village, Deerfield, Mass.
Joan's Beach and Gift, York Beach, Maine
Best New England hidden travel secrets: the Montague Bookmill in Montague, Mass.
The best independently-owned bookstores in Massachusetts


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