Americans embark on epic road trips for reasons that range from the heartwarmingly silly to the downright desperate. From getting a world-famous donut three states away to getting hitched by an Elvis impersonator to the girl you just met in Montana, taking to the open road needs no more excuse than the person behind the wheel wants to give it. From high school kids hopped up on caffeine to well-rested retirees in massive RVs, road tripping satisfies something wild and free in the American sub-conscious, and road tripping to get to some of the country’s best flea markets does, too. Here are six flea markets scattered across the United States that are all worth driving — or flying — across the country for.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
With over 2,500 vendors and 20,000 shoppers every month, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is one of the biggest and most reliable flea markets in the country. Held in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium, the flea market offers a wealth of bargains. Find shoes, jewelry, clothes, furniture, rare art, music, landscaping plants and materials, crafts, accessories, and more. Whether you know what you’re in the market for or you hope to be surprised, this flea market — and the people watching that accompanies it — won’t disappoint you.
The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show takes place three times a year in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and while it can tend toward the well-heeled and moneyed, incredible bargains can still be had for the patient and well-trained eye. Major design houses like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren send buyers to this flea market to sniff out hot concepts and worthy artifacts from the more than 5,000 dealers who set up camp here. Plan to spend the entire three days of the show since there are roughly 20 plots to peruse, and each plot covers around three to four acres.
Every weekend finds thousands of people carousing along the 117 acres that make up the Renninger’s Mount Dora Flea Market and Antique Center. Over 1,000 dealers and vendors set up shop at two separate sites on the land, and you’ll find everything from fresh produce and seafood to carpets and kitchen appliances being peddled. Plan on hitting this flea market during one of their monthly special events that from music festivals to car shows.
Austin Country Flea
Just off highway 290 in Austin, Texas, you’ll find the Lonestar State’s oldest and biggest flea market. From Mexican pottery and vintage cowboy gear to estate jewelry and antiques, over 300 vendors turn out every weekend. While some claim the Austin County Flea has fallen on hard times where vendors are only trying to pass off low-quality wares to unsuspecting tourists, there are still plenty of bargains and one-of-a-kind items to be had. The place also features live music, food concessions and clean restrooms, so you can easily make a day of it.
The Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market
Located in northern Indiana, this auction and flea market claims to be the Midwest’s largest outdoor flea market, and with over 900 vendors on over 100 acres, it very well may be. Fresh produce, handmade furniture, crafts, vintage clothes and everything in between are available, and antiques are auctioned off every Wednesday morning all year long. The market is open year-round on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and during the summer months of June, August and September, the first Saturday is added to that schedule. Admission is free, and there’s always live music and plenty to eat.
The Brooklyn Flea
Now its own brand — like everything good that’s ever come out of New York — the Brooklyn Flea has a number of pop-up locations in addition to its original, sprawling, and meticulously curated location. Live music, artisanal foods, jewelry, clothing, handmade wares, vintage furniture — whatever you could wish for can be found here. Of course, bargains can be tough to come by since it’s become so popular. Expect to pay New York City prices for all your fabulous finds.
Flea markets provide much more than just useful and rare items for your home or wardrobe. Collections of stories and history, the flea market holds within it a wealth of opportunities to understand the myriad of cultures within America and each person’s own unique place within those cultures. Whether you take a road trip, hop a train, or pack your suitcase and fly across the country, these six flea markets provide everything a lover of the past and a lover of bargains could hope for.