Go Treasure Hunting at One of These Epic Flea Markets Around the Country

John Dolan

Summer is in the air, which means it's the season for strolling flea markets and antique fairs. Whether you're a novice collector or a shrewd antiquarian, we have dozens of ideas to help you make the most of your next trip: If you're shopping, bring cash, including small bills. Be friendly and polite, especially when negotiating, asking if there is any wiggle room in the price. Arrive early, and always carry foldable tote bags for your purchases. And if you buy a large piece that you would like to retrieve later, ask for the seller's cell-phone number.

Collecting is intriguing to most of us, and no one more so than Martha whose love of all things old, all things "period," all things intrinsically beautiful are driven by her knowledge of the manufacture, history, and usage of all those things. Our editors' keen fascination with the vintage world has led us to rummage and search high and low for objects of interest. On weekends, you can find us quietly visiting antiques shows, flea markets, and tag sales hunting for "new" things to add to our collections of old, or for old things to begin a new collection. Even Martha herself—here at the flea, she often finds wonderful, reasonably priced decorative pieces (think vintage pottery and linens and American country furniture). The selection of small objects is great; there are tea cups and clocks, paintings and photographs, lamps and books, stoneware, transferware, jasperware, and even Tupperware. And if you need a big object—a spindle bed, garden arch, bombé commode, or a set of porch posts—you'll find that, too.

This country is brimming with flea markets to find your perfect treasure. Here, stroll a few of the best.

01 of 15

Brimfield Antique Flea Market, Massachusetts

brimfield Massachusetts antique flea market
6SN7 / Flickr

Considered the granddaddy of all shows, the venerable, 62-year-old Brimfield Antique Flea Market boasts 5,000 vendors with museum-quality furniture, folk art, and collectibles that attract an impressive 100,000 buyers. Three times a year—in May, July, and September—the crowds make their pilgrimage to this small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts, which is located along Route 20, to peruse the wares and enjoy the local food like kettle corn, New England boiled potatoes, and the fan favorite Thanksgiving-style "pilgrim sandwich."

02 of 15

Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market, Connecticut

elephants trunk flea market
HA! Designs - Artbyheather / Flickr

Originally, the Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market was a local secret on Route 7. Over its 40-year history, the market has become a popular New England tradition with 500 vendors including food trucks that roll in from everywhere along the East Coast. Purchase your ticket on any given Sunday from April through December in one of three categories, ranging from $20 early buyers to $3 general admission.

03 of 15

Brooklyn Flea, New York

brooklyn flea williamsburg brooklyn
Boogich / Getty Images

The Big Apple has boasted its fair share of flea markets over the years, but the Brooklyn Flea bests them all. As a newcomer onto the thrifting scene, the nomadic Flea was founded by duo Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby in 2008, and moves from place to place in the borough—though always held on Saturday and Sunday. Vendors offer furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as arts and crafts by local designers. The Flea also operates Smorgasburg, a giant all-you-can-eat food market.

04 of 15

Fleur de Flea, Kentucky

fleur de flea market kentucky
Courtesy of Fleur De Flea

Four times a year in downtown Louisville, the Fleur de Flea welcomes buyers to explore the 150 vendors selling antiques, vintage souvenirs repurposed and recycled, and handmade items on the Waterfront Plaza. Not to mention, there are food trucks to fuel your shopping spree; plus, local craft beer and Bourbon, too.

05 of 15

Scott Antique Market, Georgia

vintage rugs scotts antique market
Courtesy of Scott's Antique Market

When locals refer to the Scott Antique Market as the "Brimfield of the South," they're not talking about grass, tents, and sunshine glinting off silver. The key to its treasures lies in their maps, where you'll find a calendar with market days highlighted in bold. Once a month, rain or shine, some 2,500 dealers set up in the climate controlled buildings. Depending on the time of year and the weather, an additional 500 dealers arrange their wares outside.

06 of 15

Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market, Ohio

Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market, Ohio
Courtesy of Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market

At the Clark County Fairgrounds, the Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market is held nine times a year, and features over 2,000 vendors and 20,000 customers. This "Extravaganza" as it's called by the locals, offers lots of finds like antique home décor, paintings, handmade quilts, and Americana folk art.

07 of 15

Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market, Indiana

shipshewana auction and flea market
Courtesy of Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market

Shipshewana Trading Place is in the heart of Amish country. And while antiques are a big attraction, so are the horse and livestock auctions, the latter of which includes cattle, pigs, sheep, lamb, and goats. Post-shopping, outdoor pavilions are catered by food trucks where you can indulge in a "Best of the Farm" breakfast special including cinnamon rolls. This year, the flea is held every Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

08 of 15

Wheaton Illinois All-Night Flea Market, Illinois

World Famous Wheaton Illinois All Night Flea Market
Courtesy of World Famous Wheaton Illinois All Night Flea Market

Night owls need not despair—there is a flea market for you, too. It's the famous Wheaton Illinois All-Night Flea Market, which is hosted annually for one evening between the hours of 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. Turn on your flashlight and stroll the booths for antiques, folk art and crafts, and country housewares. It'll only cost you $10; free admission for children 12 and under.

09 of 15

The 127 Yard Sale

the 127 yard sale
Courtesy of The 127 Yard Sale / Facebook

One of Midwestern America's longest markets—the 127 Yard Sale is an event so epic, it must be seen to be believed. Its route stretches across 690 miles (yes, truly) from Addison, Michigan, through the states of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, to Gadsden, Alabama, and attracts thousands of vendors every year. Shopping aside, there's plenty to make the trip worth your while with sightseeing, roadside attractions, national state parks, and more.

10 of 15

Mile High Flea Market, Colorado

mile high flea market colorado
Courtesy of The Mile High Flea Market

Year-round, the Mile High Flea Market in the city of its namesake is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vendors sell everything from antiques to kitschy collectibles across 80 paved acres. It's adjacent to both an outdoor farmers market and amusement park (yes, it truly has everything). Pay a $5 fee to bring your dog, which comes with a matted cart to keep his paws cool from the hot ground.

11 of 15

Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market, Kansas

sparks antiques flea market and collectibles kansas
Courtesy of Doniphan County

Sparks is a small town of less than 100 people, but twice a year, during the Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market, it soars to over 75,000 with its shoppers and participating vendors. This is a picker's paradise where you can find everything from relics, glassware, bottles, jars, clocks, and collectible coins.

12 of 15

Marburger Farm Antique Show, Texas

Marburger Farm Antique Show, Texas
Kellie CA / Flickr

Whether you're looking for sleek midcentury-modern décor or an ornate European chandelier, you'll find it at this giant fair. The Marburger Farm Antique Show is a twice-yearly tradition of Round Top, Texas, showcasing a diverse range of dealers from around the world.

13 of 15

Portland Flea and Food, Oregon

Portland Flea and Food, Oregon
Courtesy of Portland Flea and Food

At the Portland Flea and Food, this regular event features 40-plus local artists, makers, and curators of the best vintage, handmade, and locally-sourced goods in town. All markets are held on the last Sunday of the month, rain or shine. Plus, leashed dogs are welcome to join you in your perusing.

14 of 15

Alameda Point Antiques Faire, California

Alameda Point Antiques Faire, California
Courtesy of Almeda Point Antiques Faire

On the first Sunday of each month, more than 800 vendors set up shop along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay for the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. Take in the skyline as you browse the eclectic mix of furniture and art.

15 of 15

Rose Bowl Flea Market, California

Rose Bowl Flea Market, California
Courtesy of Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena is one of the largest and most legendary in the Golden State. On the second Sunday of every month, all-year long, 2,500 vendors set up shop at the iconic stadium with their antiques, vintage clothing, local art, and Americana kitsch. To beat the crowd of estimated 20,000 buyers, consider the early-bird VIP admission special for $20.

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