When I moved from Alabama to San Antonio 14 years ago, I felt most at home in antique stores around the city. While learning to steer through the often-crowded lanes on Loops 410 and 1604, it felt easier to navigate the aisles at Ironside Antiques Mall. Its slightly musty rows of mismatched china and grand, old cabinets gave off the same feeling as the antique shops I’d scoured back in Birmingham. I quickly learned what others already knew: From San Antonio’s shops and dealers to vendors in surrounding Hill Country towns, this region boasts serious antique browsing potential.

Lark Mason, an internationally acclaimed antiques appraiser who splits his time between New Braunfels and Manhattan, agrees. “There are some surprising things that turn up in South Texas,” says Mason, who explains that antiques appeal to shoppers because they provide “a connection to people who came before us, whom we did not know, who used these objects, but in a different way.”

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