It’s no secret we love a good flea market (so much in fact, we created a virtual one!), but as any vintage enthusiast will tell you, not all flea markets are created equal—or count themselves worthy of a 5 AM wakeup call. So to separate the winners from the losers, we’ve compiled a list of 10 best flea markets in the U.S. that are a notch above the rest. As they say, the early bird gets the worm, so fellow vintage lovers, set your alarms and ready your haggle!
Alameda Point Antique Faire
A Bay Area institution since 1997, the Alameda Point Antique Faire is the epitome of viva la vintage. In addition to welcoming over 800 vendors a month, all items sold at Alameda are required to be 20 years of age or older. Another perk? Alameda’s backdrop is the stunning San Francisco skyline. So go ahead and cancel your brunch plans, as this one happens on the first Sunday of every month (or get there for the 6 AM start time and brunch it up later).
Brooklyn Flea Market
If you’re ever in New York, take a step off the tourist track and take a gander at the Brooklyn Flea Market. This market has two locations: SoHo (which runs both Saturday and Sunday) and DUMBO (which is open Sundays only). Not only do we love this market because it runs all year, but it earns extra points for the food truck festival next door. Burritos and bergères? Yes, please.
Insiders Say: Have a plan of what types of items you’re looking for, and focus on those. Don’t waste too much precious shopping time on things that might just end up collecting dust in storage!
Brimfield Antiques Market
Yankee Magazine calls the Brimfield Antique Flea Market “The Mother of all Antique Markets,” and with good reason. Founded in Brimfield, Massachusetts in 1959, the market hosts an incredible 200,000 visitors a year! With 20 privately owned shows spread out over a series of fields, conquering Brimfield in one trip is virtually impossible. Thankfully, it takes place 3 times a year in May, July, and September. Pro tip: be sure to try the market’s famous “pilgrim sandwiches” and apple cider donuts—with miles of ground to cover, you’ll have earned ’em.
Elephant’s Trunk County Flea Market
Consider yourself among the most dedicated of market-goers? If so, be sure to check out the Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market in New Milford, Connecticut. Established in 1976, this can’t-be-missed flea allows you purchase an admission status known simply as “Super Early Buyer.” For $40,”Super” admission allows you to enter the gates at 4:45 AM. If you prefer a bit more beauty sleep, though, enter for $2 at 7 AM with the rest of us folk. This one runs every Sunday, April through December.
Insiders Say: It’s pretty hard to haggle your way into a good deal if you’re dressed like you can afford higher prices, so save the designer for luncheons and keep it simple.
Long Beach Antique Market
Thanks to its proximity to L.A., the Long Beach Antique Market is a celebrity fave, with everyone from Courtney Cox to Amanda Peet having been spotted haggling. Held year round, the market runs on the third Sunday of each month and features over 800 vendors. Like the Alameda Point Antique Faire, items are required to be of a certain age, making for a legit vintage experience.
My favorite flea market is the Long Beach Flea. It’s has a lot of the same vendors as the beloved Rose Bowl flea but it’s smaller (so not as overwhelming), has better parking and the proximity to the water means it doesn’t get as scorching hot as the Rosebowl often can. I scored my favorite painting there for $20.
Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow
Randolph Street Market
Vintage lovers in and around Chicago, Illinois are all about the Randolph Street Market. We adore this market for the dynamic way it mixes shopping, eating, and entertainment. Vendors from across the Midwest make their way to Randolph Street every month to show off what their mamas gave them—literally! Since vendors are willing to make a trek for this one, expect to find the unexpected. Open 10 AM – 5 PM, one weekend each month.
“Randolph Antique Market is one of my favorite fleas in the Chicagoland area. I mean, where else can you shop killer vintage while sipping champagne and munching on a taco in a bag? Plus there’s always a DJ spinning old school Michael Jackson. A few of my most treasured pieces were scored at Randolph…like a completely restored Dorothy Draper dresser, a brass Sarreid chest, and an incredible abstract painting of two girls playing on the beach. I swear, I spied it from across the parking lot and practically ran.”
Kyla Herbes of House of Hipsters
Original Round Top Antiques Fair
Located halfway between Austin and Houston, Round Top, Texas (pop. 90) is home to one of the largest antique shows in the country. The Round Top Antiques Fair happens three times a year—Spring, Fall, and Winter—and hosts more than 2,000 vendors spread out over 25 miles. In an ode to its Down Home heritage, Round Top is known for its American-inspired antiques, ranging from colonial to industrial, but be prepared to score some wildcards too. And the best part? You’ll be shopping for antiques smack dab in the middle of the idyllic Texas countryside.
Anything vintage, antique, industrial, salvage or rustic are very well represented at Round Top. Lucky for me, I was able to find a lot of wonderful items for our English Country style house at great prices. But, even if the rustic farmhouse, industrial style is not your favorite, you can still find plenty both big and small to suit any style. If you are in need of some ironstone – they have you covered.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
Located in Pasadena, California, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is truly a one-of-a-kind market. In addition to welcoming about 20,000 buyers every month, this legendary flea market also offers over 2,500 vendors—ensuring that, if you go, you’re in for a full day activity. But don’t worry—there’s plenty of food available (including sushi!). The Rose Bowl flea market only happens once a month, so we highly recommend you pencil this one in now.
Insiders Say: Enlist some of your friends to help cover more ground and stake your claim in those once-in-a-lifetime buys. It’s always a good idea to have extra eyes to catch pieces you might have missed.
Scott Antique Market
Just like furniture, flea markets only get better with time, which is why (with two decades under its belt) you can’t do better than Scott Antique Market in Atlanta, Georgia. Don, the market’s owner, used to buy and sell antiques, but craved a way to share his love of vintage with a wider audience. Hence, the Scott Antique Market was born. The Scott Market was so well received that it expanded to two more locations (both in Ohio), which all run one weekend a month.
Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market
Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio is home to one of the most epic flea markets in the country, the Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market. In fact, not only is this a flea market, but it’s also an antiques show! Really, what more do you need to hear to book your ticket now? A word to the wise: this market appears 9 times a year, so make sure to check their calendar for this year’s dates.
Lead photo by Kathryn McCrary