There's nothing better than perusing wares and hunting for treasures at a classic flea market. Los Angeles, luckily, has a ton of them, offering everything from vintage clothing to record store surplus, kitschy kitchenware and custom-made furniture. There's often food, drink and music to boot—as well as a sense of community, where you can meet collectors, see and be seen, run into friends and meet new people. And though they’ve been stuck with a decidedly off-putting name, these open-air, ragtag gatherings of disparate vendors have remained some of LA’s preferred shopping experiences for decades, thriving by taking advantage of the city’s temperate climate and endless array of parking lots. Long live the flea market! Los Angeles and the surrounding area is home to ten of our favorites, listed below.
Find a flea market in Los Angeles
Perhaps the Los Angeles area’s most iconic flea market, this event around the exterior of the Rose Bowl is staggeringly colossal—but what else would you expect from a 90,000-seat stadium? The sheer size and scale of this market means that it encompasses multitudes: new and old, handcrafted and salvaged, the cheap and the costly. On the second Sunday of each month, an odd mix of vendors populates the loop around the stadium: for every eye-catching artwork, there's a ratty $5 T-shirt, and for each elegant craft there's a competing "as seen on TV" demo. But you may have more luck in the rows and rows of old furniture, albums and vintage clothes and accessories that fill the adjacent parking lot. There are plenty of duds, to be sure, but come out early enough and you may go home with that perfect purchase. This destination flea market attracts bargain hunters, collectors and antique aficionados from all over the county, so the organizers have instituted a tiered entry/admission system, allowing professional and dedicated shoppers early access at a premium.
Think of this monthly antiquers' paradise as the Rose Bowl Flea Market of Long Beach. Just as its name suggests, the Long Beach Antique Market is completely chock full of antiques. Whether you're dropping by to furnish your new sunroom, find a specific 1920's steamer trunk, or aimlessly wade through the mammoth selection of vintage clothing, home goods and miscellaneous baubles, the event rarely disappoints. Taking up a large portion of Long Beach City College’s Veterans’ Stadium, this flea market has few frills to distract from the heavy concentration of vintage buys. Prices may be relatively high compared to other outdoor markets, but that shouldn’t matter if your haggling skills are up to snuff. Your ticket in is $6 for general admission, $12 if you want to get in on the action an hour before the masses flood in to swipe that mid-century bar cart you've been jonesing to find.
If Melrose Ave is LA’s sceney-est street, then the Melrose Trading Post is the epicenter of that scene. Every Sunday, hundreds of stylish Angelenos head over to Fairfax High School for the beloved Melrose Trading Post ($3 entry, free parking). Smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles, it's much more than a flea market: live music, a food court and expansive grounds bring people out to wile away the day, chat with old friends, and yes, be seen. Fortunately, the Trading Post is also a world-class flea market. With the right balance of new and old, expensive and affordable, the many vendors hustling artwork, succulents and vintage jackets fill a startlingly expansive space in an urban epicenter.
Held in the midst of a very busy working airport, this flea market's lengthy stretch of vintage and antique goods is directly across the street from a parking lot for vintage and antique planes. With almost nothing brand new (the key exception being purveyors of ornately beaded objects), the Santa Monica Airport Flea Market is specifically catering to shoppers looking to buy exceptional old goods. Though not necessarily a feature of this flea market, many sellers carry an abundance of wall art, paintings and prints, including, on one recent Sunday, two very different large-scale drawings of topless mermaids. Home furnishings are abundant, with lamps, chairs, tables and more from every decade of the last century.
We Angelenos welcome New York transplants with open arms—as long as they involve either gourmet ice cream or artisanal, handcrafted goodies. These criteria make the Arts District debut of Brooklyn-born craft market Artists & Fleas a no-brainer. And more than any other flea market in Los Angeles, the Downtown edition of Artists & Fleas is very much a manifestation of its neighborhood, specifically the booming Arts District. Every third weekend of the month, stroll along Mateo St (between 6th and 7th streets) from 11am to 5pm for an outdoor weekend event featuring locally made art, fashion, vintage wares, vinyl, edibles and beyond. Mingle amongst LA's hippest while eyeing hand-beaded jewelry or one-of-a-kind reclaimed wood work from 75+ vendors. Plus, there's a "feed lot" each weekend that features five LA-based food trucks; past participants include Coolhaus, Currywurst and Komodo.
Once a month, the colorful campus of the Micheltorena school on Sunset Boulevard transforms into Silver Lake’s finest and most popular flea market. While the square footage is on the more diminutive side, this is a market that some expert-level shoppers swear by for unique, one-of-a-kind finds. Think: a small selection of stalls offering wares such as rare vinyl, crystals, handmade jewelry, well-curated vintage clothing and accessories, as well as ubiquitous tie-dyed T-shirts. Also of note are this particular market's fencing demonstrations, which are staged twice throughout the course of the day by the Silver Lake Fencing Academy.
Though somewhat lesser-known than its iconic "cross-town rival" market, Pasadena City College’s Flea Market is the more eccentric, less-pretentious of Pasadena’s two fleas. With free admission for a gathering of hundreds of vendors carrying antiques, clothes and crafts, this market is especially known for its wide selection of media, including records, books and magazines. The rotating line-up of food vendors brings local favorites (Pie and Burger!) right to the flea market for special engagements. Held partially within the school’s multi-level parking garage, this is one of LA’s very few sheltered flea markets, making it ideal for shady summer shopping.
One of the San Fernando Valley’s best flea markets, the Topanga Vintage Market occupies the sizeable parking lot at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Though not as extensive in quantity or quality as some of the bigger flea markets in the greater LA area, this flea market has an extremely diverse cross-section of sellers, with just about one of everything available to purchase. One of the more personable flea markets around, the staff, vendors and shoppers are cheerful and eager to be buying and selling—and talking—on Sunday mornings.
Nestled next to the 110 Freeway in the parking lot of Torrance’s famed Alpine Village, this flea market is something of a permanent affair, as it is up and running every single morning. A densely-packed, mid-size flea market, this collection of vendors is less artist focused and more utilitarian. While few of the used items displayed on the seemingly endless rows of long-folding tables could be called "vintage," there are some neat old-school finds to be scored. Still, if you’re looking for some gently pre-owned tools or toys for a good price, this is the spot.
The newest flea market on the block, the Venice outpost of this artisan/craft-focused flea market mini-empire is bringing records, vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, cosmetics, jewelry and more to the Westminster Avenue Elementary School. A handful of small batch confectioners provide sweet treats to snack on or take home, while food trucks and nearby restaurants provide heartier bites. Though relatively small in size, owing perhaps to its prime location bookending the neighborhood’s famed Abbot Kinney stretch, vendors hawk a diverse range of handmade and expertly curated wares that seem to simultaneously fit in and stand out in one of the nation’s most unusual neighborhoods.