8 Epic Flea Markets Across the Country (You Need to Check These Out!)
As a full-on flea market addict, I'm constantly looking for the next biggest, baddest market I can sink my vintage-loving teeth into. (I have my own "decor closet" at home, people — the struggle is real.) No matter where you are in the country, chances are you might not be too far from one of these epic, mind-blowing fleas or antique shows.
I've rounded up all of my faves to share, so here's my ultimate flea-market road trip bucket list. Dig in!
Texas Antique Weekend
Round Top, Texas
This flea, which takes place twice a year, is typically at the top of the list of any "best flea" roundups you'll find. Taking place across a variety of towns in Texas over the course of three weeks, you can literally find miles upon miles of vintage furniture and decor gems at Round Top. Hotels book well in advance, but the most luxe option is The Prarie — a boutique hotel from shabby chic designer Rachel Ashwell.
Church pews are a great addition to the entryway and can be dressed up with seasonal pillows for a fresh look. And with many modern churches switching to theater-style seating, these classic seats are fairly easy to come by. Side note: They are also fairly pricy, so if you find a good deal, you'd better snatch it up.
While finding two armchairs that are identical and in good shape can be a challenge, traditional wingback chairs always seem to be available. Consider buying two that are similar but not matching and recovering the pair in your favorite fabric.
Add an instant cool factor to your shelves or buffet table with a vintage fan. Though not difficult to come by, these fans can be on the pricier end of thrift-store merchandise. Opt for one that hasn't been restored to save a little money and still get a great look.
Usually all metal, bird cages can add interest to any space. The stunning versions you can find antiquing vary in price depending on size and the condition they are in. If you're interested in adding one to your home decor, this is one item you'll want to take your time to find the right price.
Mantels can instantly add depth and architectural interest to your home. Though easy to find, you'll want to consider the style you are looking for rather than buying the first one you see. While the more detailed versions do run a little higher, it may be worth the extra cost in the end. If you plan to paint your mantel, little details and intricate carvings really help it shine.
While it may seem like everything is chalkboard these days, the green classroom chalkboard is actually more of a rarity. You may find one that is still on the rolling display, which would be great for a kid's playroom. To achieve the look seen here, just remove the screws and hang it wherever you hope to add some schoolhouse charm.
Industrial Scrap Pieces
While you may not be lucky enough to find a portion of a windmill, scrap metal and industrial pieces are a dime a dozen. From metal mattress springs to old metal typeset drawers, these pieces are just waiting to be reused as wall art, furniture beginnings and more.
Perfect for a long table, Joanna regularly upcycles wooden tool boxes as charming centerpieces. Whether you find a wooden or metal version, tool boxes are easy to find when thrifting and can be used as planters, to hold towels and to keep toiletries corralled. Really, the options are endless.
Vintage scales look amazing in the kitchen. The most common versions are countertop scales, but hanging scales like the one seen here are not too hard to come by. Side note: If you actually plan to use a kitchen scale for weighing food, you may want to consider a new version with vintage charm.
Books are always a great decor option. And the great part about this design is that the titles don't even matter. Simply pick up a few well-loved books at your local flea market and display proudly for an instant shabby-chic effect.
One of Joanna's favorite pieces to work with, metal baskets are just as useful as they are stylish. They come in all shapes and sizes. Consider buying an old metal locker basket. These little slices of history are often found in thrift stores and work with many different design styles.
Industrial furniture, such as old post office cabinets and hotel mail slots, is easier to come by than you might expect. The downside with these pieces is that if they are in good condition, (and often even when they are not) they fall on the pricier side of the thrift-store scale.
Small, large and in between, old glass windows are an easy flea market find that can be used to add some rustic charm to an empty wall. And if you're really feeling creative, consider painting them or adding a few colorful jars to display flowers as Joanna did here.
Vintage signs are easy wall decor that tell a story, and since perfectly-distressed signs aren't readily available at every store, this is the type of thrift store find you want to grab when you find it. Even if it won't work in your house, chances are you'll find a friend or family member that is dying to get their hands on it.
Rustic, industrial and perfect for storage, wooden crates are one of Joanna's go-to decorations. You can definitely find these used, but it may be cheaper to opt for new in this case. Side note: If you want vintage, old soda crates are easy to find with typically fair prices.
If you have something specific in mind, you'll likely leave the thrift store disappointed, but if interesting furniture is your goal, there are so many fantastic options. And don't get stuck on the original purpose of the piece. Here, this antique cobbler's bench works as a unique side table with tons of character.
While they likely won't be a perfect fit for your front entrance, vintage doors can also be used as a decorative wall hanging like Joanna did here. Old screen doors are a popular thrift store find that can be used as decor or even transformed as a useful spot to hang jewelry, cooking utensils or whatever your heart desires.
Brimfield Antique & Collectibles Show
This flea takes place several times a year and showcases the best of the best in the world of antiques and collectibles. Buyers from some of the higher-end brands such as Ralph Lauren and ABC Carpet & Home are there soaking up all the inspiration they can from the hundreds of vendors across 20+ fields along Route 20. If you want to attend, make sure to make your hotel reservations well in advance, as Brimfield is a small New England town that gets taken over by the semi-annual shows.
Collect Your Collections
To maximize the impact of a collection, display all the pieces together in an unusual way. Two dozen apothecary bottles become an eye-catching centerpiece when placed in a rustic tool caddy. Add colorful wildflowers and a trendy turquoise tablecloth for a modern look with a homey feeling.
Recycle the Old-fashioned Way
Second-hand chairs are not only easy to make over, but they’re also super cheap. You can pick one up at a rummage sale, church bazaar or garage sale for under $10. Just double-check that it isn't broken and that the seat can be recovered easily. With some stylish fabric and a staple gun, you can have an instant occasional chair or a kooky side table.
Keep It Together
It's easy to start a collection without ever giving it it's proper due. To make the most of a large collection, show off your favorite finds by grouping them together and hanging them in full display. Courtesy of HGTV Magazine
Make a Big Display of Little Things
Showcase smaller collectibles in niches to keep them from getting lost. A bookcase is a natural roost for ceramic bird figurines when you nestle them in the spaces between the rows and stacks of books. Give tiny items more stature by placing them on pedestals also made of flea market finds.
Instead of buying a generic bin to sort your mail, why not opt for something vintage and unexpected? Go on a hunt at the antique faire for a safety deposit box, a cheese crate or a narrow drawer from an old sewing table. A plastic inbox might do the job, but a card catalog drawer has character.
Show and Tell
The mantel is prime territory for decorating. Don’t waste this valuable space on a single vase and photo. Instead, create a gallery with framed prints and one-of-a-kind collectibles. An antique chocolate bunny mold not only looks like a fine art sculpture, it’s a great conversation piece.
Be Ahead Of Your Time
Want to get the best price on something? Buy it out of season. If you see a winter sled at a summer yard sale, that seller just wants to make room in the attic. Make a lowball offer and you might get a steal! And don't think you can't use it till December. A sled loaded with plants is a garden delight any time of the year.
Try Something New
An important rule for flea market shopping is to never get too hung up on an item's original purpose. For example, this beautiful shelf is now a miniature side table that frees up floor space and houses just the essentials. Courtesy of HGTV Magazine
If you're shopping with an exact piece in mind, you'll likely leave disappointed. However, if you can be flexible and keep your mind open, you may come away with the perfect piece! This petite table is actually made of two flea market tables that were combined and painted.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
Southern California really has some amazing flea markets, but the Rose Bowl, held the second Sunday of each month, is truly the mack daddy of all Los Angeles fleas. Taking over the entire football stadium, you can find everything from furniture to decor to knick knacks to vintage clothing. To find the best of the best (and compete with the local store owners) you should arrive as early as 5 a.m. If that's too early, I would recommend getting there no later than 7 a.m. to beat the crowds and get the best selection.
Don't Be Afraid to Dig
Some of the best pieces are found in dark corners of junk shops. This stepback cupboard, probably more than 100 years old, boasts original hardware and leaded glass doors. It was filthy and a piece of trim needed to be reattached, but it was otherwise in great condition. After a good scrub and some minimal repair, it was ready to be filled with ironstone, linens and cookbooks.
Shop Like a Pro
Flea markets and antique fairs can be overwhelming, so it's a good idea to show up prepared. Make a wish list with measurements for any furniture or rugs before the event, bring cash, prepare for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. When shopping for furniture, bring a tape measure so you'll be sure that it will fit in your space. Also, have a plan for transporting the furniture home, since most vendors will expect you to take it with you that day. Most prices at markets and fairs are negotiable, but be polite when asking for a better price; a vendor is not going to give a bargain if he or she feels insulted.
Built to Last
Farm tables and chairs are an excellent way to bring a sense of history into a modern kitchen. The patina of worn wood or the charm of mismatched chairs and plank benches can become the focal point of a boring kitchen. Look for pieces that are sturdy and practical for everyday use. Furniture that wobbles, shows signs of poor repair or has suffered extensive water damage should be avoided.
A kitchen can never have too much storage. Utilize wire market baskets, wooden crates, tool caddies and antique jars with zinc lids as stylish organizers. They're great for displaying pretty linens, family cookbooks, serving platters, flatware, produce and dry goods. Look for pieces that are in sturdy, usable condition and scaled right for the space. For instance, an oversize dough bowl would be fabulous on a huge island, but it would overwhelm a small galley kitchen.
Beyond Kitchen Basics
Sneak some unexpected accessories onto the kitchen counter to keep things interesting. A trophy won at a 1905 relay race houses wooden spoons and utensils, keeping them on hand next to the stove. Use a small wooden card catalog to organize recipe cards, large silver trays and platters can be hung over counters to act as a backsplash, and office file baskets can store plates, napkins and flatware. Look at pieces for how they can be used, not just how they were made to be used.
Scale Is Key
Antique and vintage scales are another great way to add character to the countertop. Not only do they look great when filled with seasonal produce or a stack of linens, but accurate ones can also be used to weigh dry ingredients for baking or portion sizes for meals. Don't limit your search to kitchen scales alone. Keep an eye out for postal scales, scientific balances and hanging grocery scales.
Set the Table
Dishes, flatware and linens are some of the easiest things to find at flea markets, estate sales and thrift stores, plus they're usually inexpensive (sometimes just a few cents each). Store pretty plates in a drying rack, open cabinetry or just stacked in a basket, readily available for everyday use. Feel free to mix flatware patterns and styles. Keep them handy in mustard crocks, canning jars or ironstone creamers. Linen napkins, tea towels and runners are economical and environmentally friendly, not to mention beautiful. Skip the ironing for casual everyday meals or bring out the starch for a crisp look on special occasions.
Vintage and antique kitchen gear can look great, but it might not always be practical or safe for everyday use. Some glazes used on antique pottery contain lead or the wiring on a great vintage toaster might not meet modern safety standards. Make sure to research what is safe to use and what's best enjoyed for its decorative value. Whether put on display or used every day, pieces found at flea markets and antique sales will fill any kitchen with personality and style.
The Brooklyn Flea is a fun, carefully curated market that has become so popular it’s morphed into several different pop-up locations. If you're the type who likes to comb through piles of junk in order to find the one gem, the Brooklyn Flea is probably not for you. But if you prefer a more unique, boutique-like shopping experience, you should definitely check this market out on your next NYC visit.
Small armchairs are ideal to tuck in a cozy bedroom corner. Look for a piece that is the proper scale for the space and in good condition. A good chair worth buying should have a sturdy frame and soft padding. In your bedroom, pair the chair with an ottoman, comfortable throw and a lamp to create an inviting place to read.
Bedside tables are an essential part of a bedroom suite, but don't feel confined to only using furniture pieces intended to be used as side tables. Petite dressers, servers and desks can all be used as side tables that provide loads of storage. For a tight space, use an antique stool, plant stand or even a wall-mounted corbel.
A Bright Idea
Most bedrooms will require at least one or two lamps for task lighting, for reading in bed or getting ready in front of a mirror. Vintage lamps are inexpensive and readily available at thrift stores and yard sales. Choose lamp bases with a stylish shape, and keep in mind that most surfaces can be updated with paint and lampshades are easy to replace. If the lamp is vintage, it is best to rewire before use. Kits can be purchased at home improvement stores, or it can be taken to an electrician.
When shopping for used, vintage and antique furniture, take the time to inspect the piece thoroughly. Look for signs of quality like solid wood, dovetailed joints, sturdy construction and well-known maker's marks. Also, you should inspect the original hardware. If a piece requires specialty hardware that is missing or broken, it may be costly and difficult to replace.
Mirror, Mirror On the Wall
Vintage mirrors turn up at flea markets and antique stores regularly and can even be a free bonus with a dresser or vanity. Don't discard these mirrors because the glass is smoked, corroded or aged. Use modern mirrors with clear glass for functional needs and keep the antique mirrors to use as accents that reflect light and bring sparkle to the space.
Better With Age
Pillowcases are an ideal thing to source while shopping secondhand. They are generally inexpensive and there are some beautiful examples available. The best thing about quality cotton and linen pillowcases is they get softer with each wash, so they become more beautiful and comfortable in time. Look for cases with crocheted trim, lacework, monograms or embroidery.
Alameda Point Antiques Faire
This is a legendary flea in Northern California (near San Francisco) that's often compared to the Rose Bowl. The killer view of the San Francisco skyline and the collection of gathered food trucks might be enough to tempt you, but there's also an amazing collection of antiques, vintage furniture and decor to choose from. Make sure to dress in layers if you plan to visit this flea, as the weather in San Fran tends to be quite unpredictable.
Outdoor Space with Bench
An obvious thing to look for when shopping for the great outdoors is lawn, patio and porch furniture. Look for pieces that are sturdy and in good condition. Remember that most surfaces can be repainted, so don't let rust, chipping paint or cosmetic signs of age deter you from purchasing a piece with great bones.
It's common at antiques stores to find fabulous pieces that were once meant for indoor use but have been neglected to the point that they are no longer functional. Give these castoff pieces a new home on a deck, porch or patio. Chairs with broken seats can hold plants, an iron headboard can become a trellis and a broken-down kitchen cabinet can be a potting bench or unique display space.
Decorative Door and Wreath
Repurpose architectural elements: Antique windows and doors can contribute to small potting sheds or greenhouses. Archways and shutters can add character to a porch or patio wall, or an old fireplace surround can bring a cozy feel to an outdoor seating arrangement during winter months.
Smart and Chic Outdoor Table
Revive antique farm tables, laboratory counters and industrial carts with a coat of polyurethane graded for outdoor use, and use them on patios and porches. Any of these multifunctional workhorses can be transformed into a potting bench or an outdoor buffet. Look for pieces with interesting casters, fun paint colors or a unique design.
Golden Nugget Antique & Flea Market
This is another favorite flea amongst designers and high-end stores. Open year round, there's a unique and curated selection of beautiful antiques, emphemera and collectibles. It's located in an idyllic little town in New Jersey and makes a great road-trip destination if you're visiting New York or Pennsylvania.
Multipurpose Muffin Pan
Vintage baking pans come with a pretty patina that makes them a favorite find at flea markets, though a pan dating back to the Mad Men era may be better suited for display rather than Sunday's blueberry muffins. Here's a new use for that old pan. Repurpose a muffin pan in the bathroom as a handy tray for toiletries that you can bring by the tub for at-home pedicures, or place a few tea light candles inside to set a serene mood for a bath. Design by Kimberly Ludy
Rolled on a Rack
Think outside the bottle with this accordion-style rack that's typically used to store wine or bottles of Pellegrino. A wine rack in the bathroom is a clever way to keep a few towels right at hand. It's a perfect solution for a guest bathroom, so friends don't need to hunt down a clean hand towel. Simply roll up towels and place bath towels on top and smaller hand towels and washcloths in the spaces below. Design by Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien. Photography by Charlotte Jenks Lewis
Wine Crate Shelf
Once you finish off that crate of wine, reuse it as stylish shelving in the bathroom (or ask your local wine shop for an old wine crate to use). The wood crate will add a rustic style to your loo — and create an open shelving solution for bath salts, big bottles of shampoo or even a pretty vase of fresh market flowers.
Mounting Tips: On the bottom of the crate, drill two holes in the middle of each side. Use a level to make sure it's sitting straight and mark where the holes are on the wall. Drill in the anchors using the markers as a guide. Add screws to mount the crate into the wall. Design by Kate Antoske
Drawers of Lotions and Potions
It's easy to spot vintage wooden drawers everywhere these days — antique shops, vintage Web shops, flea markets, you name it. Little wooden drawers make a great storage solution in the bathroom to organize and display your collection of perfume bottles or must-have toiletries. The drawers, originally part of a hardware store cabinet and sewing desk, now contain the bottles to keep your bathroom counter clean and clutter free. Design by Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien
Test Tube Grooming Rack
An old chemistry rack of test tubes makes the perfect storage spot for grooming supplies in the bathroom. True, you probably don't have a vintage test tube rack lying around the house, but chemistry racks are easy enough to find browsing the vintage selections on Etsy. Your brush, concealer, lipsticks and makeup brushes fit neatly inside the test tube holes. Place eye and lip pencils in a test tube. You'll feel like you're shopping in a fancy boutique rather than grabbing your old $2 lip balm with this pulled-together look. Design by Melissa Hruska
From the Office to Your Hair
Raid your desk for an everyday office supply that will make it easy to have hairpins on hand for your next updo. A paper clip holder makes a clever magnetic container for storing bobby pins. Add fabric to the outside of the paper clip holder using Mod Podge. Then, simply wrap the fabric around the container like you would wrap a present (but skip the top). Fold the fabric on the bottom like the end of a present, and add Mod Podge under the fabric to keep it in place. Design by Kitty Vogt
The Makeup Julep Cup
Any cup-shaped vessel can hold your stash of makeup brushes. But not every cup will be the right height so you can see what's inside or sturdy enough to handle a blush brush without toppling over. A silver plated julep cup is just right. Try a julep cup in the bathroom as a shiny storage solution for the top of your vanity. Design by Laura Fenton
Hung Up on Jars
Mason jars are a pretty and practical solution for organizing cotton balls and Q-tips, but glass in the bathroom is a risky matter and counter space is always at a premium. Here's a solution for getting everything up on the wall in style. All you need is a piece of wood, paint, pipe clamps, wide-mouth Mason jars, screws and picture hangers. Paint your wood board the color you want. Once it's dry, screw the pipe clamps onto the wood (be sure to measure out how many Mason jars you'll be adding and space them out on the board). Add picture hangers to the back of the board to hang it on the wall. Then, slide the Mason jars into the pipe clamps. Be sure the pipe clamps are tight enough to catch the lip of the jar. Now you have all your essentials within reach, and they look good, too. Design by Liz Marie Galvan
Daytona Flea & Farmers Market
Daytona Beach, Fla.
With more than 800 vendors (!!!), this weekly Florida flea is a bit of a mish-mosh in terms of items. You'll find everything from sunglasses and local souvenirs to artisanal foods and vintage furniture and decor. There's even a barber's stall and a tattoo parlor.
Shipshewana Auction & Flea Market
This flea is billed as the largest in the Midwest. With more than 900 vendors selling both new and used items, this flea is known for its great antiques selection. Since it's an outdoor flea (and Indiana gets cold!), this market only runs from May through October; however, the antique auctions run all year long in another indoor facility.
Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep
It's not uncommon to find brand-name, well-built, sturdy sofas that are in great condition but have an upholstery fabric that is stained or doesn't work with your decor. Premade slipcovers have come a long way and can be an economical alternative to buying a new sofa or having a piece reupholstered. Slipcovers can also be made out of inexpensive painter's drop cloths for those handy with a sewing machine.
Pretty and Practical
For slightly awkward or unused areas in a corner or under a window, or for a space that transitions into another room, use a petite secretary for paying bills, completing kids' homework assignments or working on a laptop. Small chests of drawers or drop-leaf tables are also great multifunctional pieces that don't take up too much space.
Before: Good Bones
When shopping for used upholstered pieces, always give the upholstery the "sniff test." Smoke and pet odors can be difficult to remove, and padding is costly to replace. Look for pieces with sturdy solid wood frames, soft padding and foam, and nice lines. Don't be afraid to lift up cushions and test out the piece before you buy. A $15 chair isn't a bargain if it ends up in the trash a few weeks later.
Coffee Table Talk
The coffee table can be one of the most versatile pieces in a living room. Think beyond the traditional and look for something unexpected. A higher table can be a great place to pull up a couple of chairs for a game of cards, an old steamer trunk provides great storage and loads of charm, and an industrial cart is a great conversation piece and can be wheeled around and used where needed.
Shop for Storage With an Open Mind
Don't look at furniture strictly for how it's meant to be used; rather, think about how it could be used. Dressers and buffets make great stands for flat-screen TVs or stylish storage for toys and games. Wardrobes can also stand in for storage of books, movies, and extra throws and pillows.
Make Minor Alterations
If using an antique or vintage buffet or dresser to house TV components, simply remove a few drawers to slide in a game console or cable box. Drill a hole in the back to run cords through and provide ventilation. Closed storage is great for concealing remotes, movies, cables and games.
Vintage fabrics like ticking, linen tea towels and bedroom pillow cases can easily be made into a toss pillow cover with basic sewing skills. Look for fabric that is machine washable and free of holes or stains that cannot be removed. Use ribbons or buttons for a simple closure that allows the cover to be removed and washed.
Chairs that are small in scale and easy to move around are a great addition to any living room. When guests are over, it's nice to have some flexibility with seating arrangements and that's hard to achieve with only large, bulky furniture. Armchairs that were once a part of a full dining set are ideal for this use and are very easy to make over with paint and simple upholstery.