Antiquing -- Sheffield lays justifiable claim to the title of "Antiques Capital of the Berkshires" -- no small feat, given what seems to be an effort by half the population of the Berkshires to sell collectibles, oddities, and true antiques to the other half. These are canny, knowledgeable dealers who know exactly what they have, so expect high quality and few bargains.
Darr Antiques and Interiors, 34 S. Main St. (tel. 413/229-7773), specializes in 18th- and 19th-century English and American furniture. Farther north along Route 7, Dovetail Antiques, 440 Sheffield Plain (tel. 413/229-2628), features American clocks. Continuing along Route 7, on the left at the edge of town, is Susan Silver (tel. 413/229-8169), with meticulously restored 18th- and 19th-century English library furniture (desks, reading stands) and French accessories.
There are at least two dozen other dealers along this route. Most of them stock the free directory of the Berkshire County Antiques Dealers Association, which lists member dealers from Sheffield to Cheshire and across the border in Connecticut and New York. Look, too, for the pamphlet called The Antique Hunter's Guide to Route 7.
Head straight for Railroad Street, the town's best shopping strip. Start on the corner with Main Street, at T. P. Saddle Blanket & Trading Co. (tel. 413/528-6500). An unlikely emporium that looks as if it was lifted whole from the Rockies, it's packed with boots, hats, Indian jewelry, blankets, and jars of salsa.
Mistral's, 6 Railroad St. (tel. 413/528-1618), stocks Gallic tableware, linens, fancy foods, and furniture. Church Street Trading Company, 4 Railroad St. (tel. 413/528-6120), defies easy categorization, with walking sticks, dog collars, and candles all on display. Primary wares are sturdily stylish North Country sweaters, shirts, and pants.
The Chef's Shop, 31 Railroad St. (tel. 413/528-0135), features a bounty of gadgets and cookbooks, as well as cooking classes. Across the street, La Pace, 313 Main St. (tel. 413/528-1888), is an upmarket housewares store with an Italian tilt.
Stay on Route 7, going north of the center, and you'll pass a large mall with an anchoring Kmart. In that unlikely location is one of the best bookstores in the area: The Bookloft, Barrington Plaza (tel. 413/528-1521; www.thebookloft.com).
Lenox & Tanglewood
The Bookstore, 11 Housatonic St. (tel. 413/637-3390; www.bookstoreinlenox.com), with author signings and poetry readings, helps fill a yawning gap in the Berkshires, which are curiously short on comprehensive bookstores. Those in pursuit of art and antiques, on the other hand, cannot easily exhaust the possibilities. For fashion-forward clothing for men and women, much of it Italian-made, check in at Casablanca, 21 Housatonic St. (tel. 413/637-2680). L.L.Bean, it isn't. Out on Route 7, heading toward Pittsfield, serious cooks should watch for Different Drummer's Kitchen, 374 Pittsfield Rd. (tel. 413/637-0606; www.differentdrummerskitchen.com).
In the small downtown shopping district, Library Antiques, 70 Spring St. (tel. 413/458-3436; www.libraryantiques.com), is filled with a wealth of English chess sets, African carvings, Peruvian alpaca sweaters, Polish stoneware, and antique American fishing lures and creels. Open daily. Farther south on Route 7, Saddleback Antiques, 1395 Cold Spring Rd. (tel. 413/458-5852), features country, wicker, and Victorian furniture, and is open every day except Wednesday.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.