Close to a century ago, the term “Flea Market” came to pass. The French term was “marché aux puces” and it referred to the marketplace in Paris that specialized in seedy secondhand goods (and yes, they were often infested with fleas). Fast-forward to 2013 where the flea market moniker still holds true, but the “goods” savvy shoppers find are typically less secondhand seediness and more vintage treasure.

From restored mid-century furniture and chic antiques to handmade jewelry and one-of-a-kind artwork, Californians can find amazing buys at area marketplaces. But out of the dozens of flea markets across this vast state, what are the ones that seem to consistently deliver the best finds? We have a list of the top five flea markets (or as they’re sometimes called—“Antiques Fairs”) from one end of California to the other. You just may find that perfect must-have—even if you didn’t need it until you saw it.

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1. Rose Bowl Flea Market—Pasadena
1001 Rose Bowl Dr.

A Travel + Leisure pick for America’s Best Flea Markets
The Rose Bowl Flea Market pretty much sets the standard for every flea market out there. It’s enormous, it’s diverse and let’s face it, it’s downright fun. To begin with, this is “thee” L.A. flea market, so you’re bound to see a celebrity or two milling around (Tori Spelling, Maria Shriver, Clint Eastwood, Cindy Crawford and even Barbra Streisand have been spotted browsing the Rose Bowl goods). But even if you don’t spot a starlet, you will spot some great buys at one of the quality antique vendors or at one of the 600 booths that feature jewelry, clothing and a myriad of odds and ends. Go. Get there early. And shop like you’ve never shopped before.

INFO
When: Second Sunday of every month

Admission:

  • General: 9 am to 4:30 am/$10
  • Express: 8 am–9 am to 4:30 pm/$15
  • VIP: 5 am–7 am to 4:30 pm/$20

Free Parking
VIP Preferred Parking

2. Alameda Point Antiques Faire—Alameda
2900 Navy Way (at Main Street)

“I’m sort of in love with this place.” “I can barely contain myself.” “This place is the bomb.”Yelp quotes about the glories of the Alameda Point Antiques Faire.

A Travel + Leisure pick for America’s Best Flea Markets
At the western end of the Alameda Island is a destination that every in-the-know antique lover wants—no needs—to experience at least once: the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. In its 12th year, this Alameda Island “flea market” features more than 800 antique dealers and attracts over 10,000 antique shoppers at each event. The treasures you’ll find at this vast faire range from quality vintage furniture and clothing to cool collectibles like antique typewriters, fans and classic appliances.

When: First Sunday of every month

Admission:

  • Earliest: 6 am to 7:30 am/$15
  • Later: 7:30 am–9 am/$10
  • Latest: 9 am–3 pm/$5
  • *Free admission for children under 15 who are with a parent.

Free Parking
Free Shuttle Service

3. Treasure Island Flea—San Francisco
1 Avenue of the Palms

On the other side of the Bay from Alameda’s Antique Faire is San Francisco’s small, but grand Treasure Island Flea Market. This market started a mere two years ago to showcase the wares of local vendors—and in that time, the lively event has taken off with the public. With some very cool finds, live music, DIY “classes” (Learn how to make stilts! Heck, yeah!) and activities to keep the kids occupied, this is the kind of cool you could only find in a great city like San Francisco. Bonus: There’s now a Treasure Island Flea Bar for those who prefer a cocktail with their antiquing.

When: Last weekend of every month

Admission (Pets welcome):

  • General: 10 am–4 pm/$3 (kids under 12 and pets get in free)

Free Parking

4. San Jose Flea Market—San Jose
1590 Berryessa Road

The San Jose Flea Market may not have the goldmine of chic vintage furniture you’ll find in the bigger cities, but since 1960, it’s been chugging along with a solid clientele and a lot of kitsch and charm. If you’re looking for that antique Superman comic book, a funky belt buckle or unique collectables, this is the place. There’s also a great selection of fresh produce (many come just for that!), as well as good-time attractions for the kids, including a vintage carousel, mini-Ferris wheel and a playground.

When: Every Friday through Sunday

Admission:

  • General: 10 am–4 pm/$3 (kids under 12 and pets get in free)

Free Parking

5. Kobey’s Swap Meet—San Diego
3500 Sports Arena Blvd.

Voted San Diego’s BEST Antique Store in the annual UT-San Diego Readers Poll
 For 33 years, Kobey’s Swap Meet has been a San Diego favorite for deals on everything from antiques and glassware to computer accessories and baby clothes. Over 25,000 bargain hunters descend upon Kobey’s every week, with approximately 1,000 vendors participating throughout the weekend. In addition to vendors, visitors may also come across on-site “garage sales” where some of the best treasures could be hiding. Bonus Info: In support of the city, Kobey’s also generously donates free space to non-profit organizations.

When: Every Friday through Sunday, 7 am–3 pm

Admission:

  • General: Friday—$1/Saturday & Sunday—$2
  • *Children 11 & under admitted for free

Free Parking

What’s your favorite California flea market? Let us know in the comments section below!