Flea markets are one of the last urban frontiers for discovering treasures that are both unique and reasonably priced. Find yours at one of these Bay Area flea markets this summer.
Handmade jewelry at the Treasure Island Flea Market.(Courtesy of Treasure Island Flea Market/Facebook)
Treasure Island Flea Market
Pier 1 on Treasure Island transforms into a bustling marketplace on the last weekend of every month—and on May 28th and 29th, this Bay Area fave will celebrate it's sixth birthday with a bash. The tchotchke-sale-meets-festival vibe makes this event more fun than most. Yes, you can find vintage goods, housewares. and clothing, but 15,000 people don't attend this monthly market just to shop for trinkets. Organizers bring in a food truck corral, plus tents offering baked goods and sweets, so you can nosh your way through the stalls hawking original art, custom-made jewelry, and newly constructed furniture (from reclaimed wood, natch). Even better, there's booze: specialty cocktails, wine, and craft beer vendors help round out the experience, so the only thing you might bring home is a slight buzz. Entry is $3 but check out their website or newsletter for special entry discounts and drink deals.
// California Ave. and Ave. N (Treasure Island), treasureislandflea.com
Beautiful vintage umbrellas at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire.(Courtesy of Alameda Point Antiques Faire)
Alameda Point Antiques Faire
More than 800 vendors specializing in vintage goods ranging from home decor to furniture to books and collectibles descend on the gym at the College of Alameda to sell genuine antiques. Look for incredible pieces like colorful parasols from the early 20th century, intricate and functional hardware like doorknobs and light fixtures, and an array of fantastic furniture. Browsers can find vintage fashions, too, but their seasonal Alameda Point Vintage Fashion Faire offers a staggering variety of pieces from the Victorian era through the 1980s. The market is free and draws locals as well as busloads of out-of-town shoppers. To ease overcrowded parking lots they offer hourly free shuttle buses from the Fruitvale BART station and the Alameda Ferry station. The faire is held the first Sunday of every month.
// 555 Ralph Appezzato Memorial Pkwy (Alameda), alamedapointantiquesfaire.com
Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling at the Solano Way Swap Meet.(Courtesy of West Wind Drive-In and Public Market/Facebook)
West Wind Solano Way Swap Meet
It's a swap meet, not a flea market, an important distinction to remember, when attending this traditionally American event. Even its venue, one of the Bay Area's remaining drive-in movie theaters, is a nod to its mid-century roots. There's little about this regular weekend event that is "specialized," and that's what makes it unique: At this market, you almost forget you are in the middle of one of the most expensive regions of the country. At the Solano Way Swap Meet you'll find fresh fruits and vegetables, second-hand toys and household goods, haircuts, massages, and a variety of other offerings at over 500 no-frills stalls. Even the food offerings at Solano Way—simple stalls offering Nathan's hot dogs and homemade tacos—somehow feel more authentic. The market is open each weekend year-round. On Sundays, hang out to hear a live local band, usually one rocking lively latinomusic, or watch some spectacular Mexican wrestling. Entry is 50¢ for adults and free for kids under 11 years.
// 1611 Solano Way (Concord), westwindpm.com
Perennials for sale at the De Anza CollegeFlea Market.(Courtesy of De Anza College Flea Market/Facebook)De Anza College Flea Market
There's a little bit of everything at the De Anza College Flea Market, which takes place the first Saturday of every month, rain or shine. The majority of vendors specialize in second-hand goods including toys, electronics, collectibles, clothing and jewelry, and during the school year draws a crowd of students as well as area families. But the DeAnza College Flea Market also offers its fair share of new, locally made gifts such as leather-bound journals and bath and body products. This market is also a great place to find plants, seeds, and cut flowers. With over 800 stalls to browse, including a number of food offerings, you can haggle till your heart's content at this 30-year-old Cupertino staple.
// 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Parking Lots A & B (Cupertino), deanza.edu/fleamarket
Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco(Courtesy of Alemany Flea Market/Yelp)
Alemany Flea Market
Alemany may be smaller than some of the other flea markets in the Bay but it works to maintain a balance of vintage and newer goods. They require at least 50 percent of their vendors to specialize in antique goods like collectibles, books, posters, books, and records—vinyl collectors make regular pilgrimages. All non-vintage goods sold on-site are required to be handmade. Excavate your way through second-hand clothing, analog camera equipment, and piles of kitchenwares—but, strap in, this place is a bargain hunter's Mecca. Alemany Flea Market is open every Sunday, rain or shine, throughout the year from 7am to 3pm. Parking can be tough, so public transportation is recommended.
Annual Niles Antique Faire and Market(Courtesy of Niles Antique Faire and Market/Facebook)
Annual Antique Faire & Flea Market
For one glorious day in August, the small, out-of-the-way neighborhood of Niles in Fremont goes from historic town to marketplace. Now in its 53rd year, this gathering is truly a community effort, hosting both commercial sellers and local residents hawking household items. This mixture of vendors gives the annual event a decidedly down-home garage sale feel. You can find merchandise of just about any kind, but keep an eye out, in particular, for stalls featuring the picturesque town's year-round specialty: antiques and decorative vintage collectibles. The event, which hosts more than 200 vendors, begins at 6am and kicks off with a pancake breakfast. Lots of other yummy home-made and food truck snacks ware available for purchase throughout the day. This year's free fair takes place on August 27.
// 37592 Niles Blvd. (Fremont), niles.org/antique-faire