I don't see it as an ideal place to travel solo if you don't love antiques because it's not exactly a hoppin' town, but for a couple of days it would be absolutely fine as a place to relax too.
New Oxford is a one-horse town in rural Pennsylvania that, as I said, doesn't have the bustle of an urban center. However, considering you could spend HOURS perusing goods from hundreds of dealers you would be quite the busy shopper/browser.
I went with a friend because I'm writing a story for The Washington Post on learning to like, or at least understand, antiques. So I took along a friend who has furnished her house in solid-wood oak pieces, green Depression glass and Watt pottery. (If you don't know what these are you're in the same boat that I started out in. I, at least, have begun to learn how to paddle.)
But if you do go alone, I highly recommend staying at the Chestnut Hall Bed and Breakfast. Because Steve and Tina McNaughton have a house packed with Victorian antiques, such as a pump organ and grandfather clock and Victrola, and give tours of the house when you check in. (Oh, and you've got to like cuckoo and chime clocks because you will hear them on the hour.)
By staying with the McNaughtons, you'll have company at breakfast, (can you say "Bananas Foster Belgian Waffles?") friendly people to chat with as they serve you your food and a social encounter in the afternoon when you check in.
Plus they'll give advice on which antiques "malls" to visit depending on what you're looking for. They're called malls but really are buildings with lots of rooms with stuff in them. You don't walk in and out of stores or pass through doors as you move around. You won't know which dealer sells what. Or even that different dealers exist. There's just one front cash register.
And if you're lucky enough to be the only ones at the B & B, as my friend and I were, you are welcome to wander through all the bedrooms and sit at little cafe table near a window for breakfast, instead of at the massive dining room table.
For me, the antiquing seemed more like visiting museums than shops where I would price things to buy. I didn't understand how a ceramic pot could be worth $21,000 or a painted wood box about the size of a microwave oven could cost $4,900.
But it was very interesting to nose around the rooms and see a cane bottom wheelchair, a pie safe (screened cabinet to cool pies out of the oven), old Mickey Mouse books, tin toys and Civil-War era, child-sized, button-up boots.
If you'd like to see photos of some of the things I mention, let me know and I'll post more. If you'd like to see a Hoosier kitchen, or side-by-side or flow ware or some other antique you think I might have taken a photo of, shout. Or if you'd like more photos of the inside of the B&B, also let me know.
And if you're able to explain to me why people pay a lot of money for rusty things, I'm all ears.
Photos: Ellen Perlman
Clocks, Center Square Antiques
Set of Mickey Mouse crayons, Golden Lane Art & Antiques
Chestnut Hall B & B
Potty chair, Golden Lane Art & Antiques
Divan, Victor Victorian