The Indiana Insider Blog

Best-kept Secret in Wayne County

Nestled along the Old National Road and in the very heart of Antique Alley, Cambridge City could easily qualify as the best-kept secret in Wayne County. What’s the secret? The secret is that this quaint town is the home to ten antiques shops and malls, four eateries and three museums – all within walking distance of one other. Rich in history and filled with beautifully-restored homes, this picturesque town of 1,900 people has a small town feel and a huge heart. But it is the abundance of antiques shops and quaint eateries that make this a must-see weekend destination spot.

Another secret I’ll share is that I get to experience this picturesque small town on a weekly basis since I work part-time at one of the antique malls in the town. I consider the hundreds of “regulars” who frequent the antiques shops and little cafes as my friends. I look forward to their smiling faces as they come to browse and seek out a little treasure to add to their collection at home. But it is the newcomers who are just discovering the little nugget of joy that is Cambridge City for the first time that I truly relish. Exclamations of “I never knew about all the great antique shopping here”, “we loved our hand-breaded tenderloin sandwich at Lumpy’s Café” or “oh we can’t wait to come back” are very common.

Nine of the ten antiques shops are located in a 2-block stretch along the Old National Road in downtown Cambridge City. Shoppers can browse primitive antique furniture, local artisan works, gifts, candles and more at The Log House, situated in a real log cabin that is original to the Old National Road. It’s like stepping back in time when you walk in there.

Blue Ridge Antiques offers a unique blend of primitive and shabby chic antiques on two floors of a restored building which was once an old saloon. Polly is there to help with your purchases and make your visit a very special one.

Marty at Doublehead Trading Company specializes in reclamation with hundreds of old doors, windows, fireplace mantels, porch columns, a large selection of collectibles and so much more. Marty has one of the largest glass jar displays in the area.

Visitors may shop for antiques, primitives, artisan wares and purposeful clutter at Vinton House Antiques, a former 1847 brick Federal hotel. In the mid 19th century, the Whitewater Canal flowed right behind the old Vinton House Hotel and then on to Cincinnati, transporting freight and passengers. A mural depicting the canal back in the day is located in front of the Vinton House.

Building 125, a mecca for home interior designers, is located in three fully-restored historic buildings, offering an eclectic mix of antiques, American country, primitives, barn quilts and a variety of gift items. The original freight elevator in one of the restored buildings is still in operation today, transporting goods to the vast second story of the store.

Don’t let the name fool you — Hole in the Wall Antiques is more of a treasured armoire with antiques and collectibles stuffed in every nook and cranny. Two floors, great finds and great deals will be found at Hole in the Wall.

This and That Antiques is aptly named – you’ll find a little bit of every kind of antique and collectible for your browsing pleasure. Just look for the old bicycle hanging from the side of the building and you’ll know you’ve found this treasure.

Old National Road Antique Mall is housed in the old Danner’s department store building and shoppers often comment on the “creakiness” of the original, old hardwood floors. With two full floors of antiques and over 85 dealers, Old National Road draws customers from states near and far who are seeking antique jewelry, primitives, toys, glassware, quilts and so much more!

Just outside town on Gooseheaven Road, you’ll find Goose Haven Trading Co. An old country schoolhouse has been converted into a haven for antiques, primitives and gifts. It’s well worth the short drive to see the wonderful selection of antiques!

When folks ask me for a good place to eat, I’m grateful that in Cambridge City, the lunch choices are many. I usually start by telling people that they can’t go wrong at The Pour House and then promptly spell out the P – O – U – R when the looks on their faces tell me they are leery about eating at a POOR House. The menu includes a variety of soups, sandwiches, coffee specialty drinks and desserts. My favorites are the chicken salad sandwich on toasted wheat and a frozen mocha frappe. Yummo! And, it is chock full of antiques and gift items and the best homemade fudge around!

Lumpy’s Café is a classic small-town diner with a pretty broad menu. The breaded tenderloin sandwich is big enough for two people to share (although I must confess I almost ate a whole one by myself once) and their breakfasts are big and hearty. Best of all, it’s just a half block off the shopping thorough so you’ll get to walk a tiny bit of your lunch off before getting back to some serious antiquing.

The newest eatery in town is the No. 9 Grill right on Main Street. The historic building was once an Odd Fellows Hall and has been completely restored with beautiful seating in family-friendly ambiance. Although they specialize in burgers and steaks, their full menu includes fish, chicken, salads and more. I recently enjoyed the No. 9 Grill Burger with a tangy barbeque sauce, bacon and cheese. My eyes were bigger than my stomach with this sandwich but my mouth is watering for an encore!

The Briar-Pitte Irish-American Pub & Steakhouse offers traditional American food from burgers to pizza to seafood and steak with indoor and outdoor seating, live music on select nights and a full bar. My sandwich of choice at The Briar-Pitte is The Hog, a hoagie bun stuffed with ham and mozzarella cheese, sent thru the pizza oven and then topped with lettuce and tomato. To. Die. For!

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Written by : Clare Seffrin Bond, a writer, life coach and marketing specialist, lives and works in Richmond, Indiana. A native of Wayne County, Clare enjoys exploring the historical sites of the area, as well as the many new locations offering excellent cuisine and live music. theroadtoclarity.com