Daytripper: Hunting for antiques

Vintage tins wait to be discovered at Mission Road Antique Mall.

Primitive, industrial and ethnic elements are customer favorites at Mission Road Antique Mall

Vintage pitchers line the antique cupboards at Mission Road Antiques Mall.

Kelly Owen looks over a used dress Feb. 26, 2010, at the Lawrence Antique Mall, 830 Massachusetts St. The joy of finding that unique and unexpected “find” amidst a sea of vintage collectibles makes shoppers’ hearts beat a little faster. And with so many antique malls and flea markets in the Kansas City metro area to choose from, the thrill of the hunt never ends.

You don’t have to be a pirate to dig for buried treasure.

The joy of finding that unique and unexpected “find” amidst a sea of vintage collectibles makes shoppers’ hearts beat a little faster.

And with so many antique malls and flea markets in the Kansas City metro area to choose from, the thrill of the hunt never ends.

River Market Antiques

This granddaddy of all antique stores is a four-story, 30,000-square-foot behemoth crammed to the gills with heirlooms and artifacts.

Whatever you happen to be looking for — be it a sterling silver toothpick dispenser or a ceramic thimble hand-painted with the likeness of Mount Rushmore — you’re sure to find it here.

Located in the historic River Market district of Kansas City and home to more than 175 dealers, River Market is a pack rat’s paradise.

Parkville Antique Mall

Their slogan is “Unlimited Variety of Merchandise,” and this two-story emporium in Parkville, Mo., is brimming with jewelry, tools, candles, books, toys, linens, postcards, Christmas decorations and whatnots, delivers the goods.

Their sister shop, La Bottega, features original art by local artist Cathy Kline, as well as paintings from El Salvador.

Webster House

This former 1885 schoolhouse (Daniel Webster Grade School) in the Crossroads District, beautifully restored into five regal rooms by proprietor Shirley Helzberg, is overflowing with unusual and decorative accessories and gifts, including 18th- and 19th-century European antiques.

Dining at the upscale (yet affordable) restaurant upstairs on the second floor (which contains the Library Bar, Rose Room, private banquet room and an open kitchen) completes your fabulous “girlfriends getaway” experience! Try the Sunday brunch menu, complete with southern fried green tomatoes, roasted banana and blueberry waffles and Mediterranean salmon salad.

Chef Matt Arnold, a Kansas University graduate, trained at the New England Culinary Institute, and sources local ingredients whenever possible.

Antiques and decorative accessories — paintings, chests of drawers, antique rugs and engravings — abound in the restaurant, making your meal a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. And just about everything in the room has a price tag, so you don’t have to stop shopping, even while you eat.

45th Street and State Line Road

You know you’ve hit the mother lode when you happen across this eclectic collection of shops in Kansas City’s Antique District, including Show Me Antiques & Consignment Shop, Kincaid Antiques, The Georgian Village, Parrin & Co. and the Knotty Rug Company.

From Chinese antique furniture to old religious statues, this little stretch of street is chock full of interesting discoveries.

Mission Road Antique Mall

Although it’s 514 miles from Churchill Downs in Louisville, this 350-dealer, 50,000-square-foot mall in Prairie Village is located in the former stable of Lawrin, the 1938 Kentucky Derby winner and the only horse from Kansas to ever win the fabled race.

You can even visit the great steed’s grave on a small knoll overlooking the mall. Mint juleps are served every year on “Kentucky Derby Day” to honor the big, copper-brown horse.

Shop till you drop, then refuel at the mall’s trendy Bloomsbury Bistro, named after the Bloomsbury Group of Virginia Woolf fame. (The award-winning restaurant takes as its motto Woolf’s words: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”)

The Bistro is warm, comfortable and intimate, with hand-painted murals in bright colors. Chef/owner Cari Jo Cavalcante has been serving up a menu of seasonal appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches, crepes and, of course, desserts (including toasted carrot cake, peaches and cream bread pudding and lemon-honey polenta cake) since 2001.

Kids are welcome, and there are Bistro Buddy choices for those age 12 and under.

You can make a day of it — browse for quality antiques (including estate, vintage and costume jewelry) on the first floor in the morning, then head upstairs to have a leisurely lunch at the Bloomsbury Bistro.

Recycling has never been so stylish.

The West Bottoms

Although most shops are only open the First Friday weekend of every month, the West Bottoms area is rapidly becoming a prime destination for bargain hunters searching for one-of-a-kind knickknacks and trinkets.

Liberty Belle, Good Juju, Bottoms Up Antique Market, Nook and Cranny, Bella Patina, Studio 1404 and Stuffology are just some of the “Shabby Chic” markets lining “KC’s Vintage Strip.” From fossils and old science test tubes to vintage fabrics and games, you’ll be hit with sensory overload.

Lawrence Antique Mall

For more than 20 years, Larry and Gwen Billings have kept this two-story gem at 830 Massachusetts St., right here in Lawrence, filled with Christmas tins, pink flamingoes and retro baby carriages, among other goodies.

Digging for treasures amidst all these beautiful temptations is more fun than you could ever imagine.