Even though I’ve been living in LA for two & a half years now, there are still so many things left to cross off the ole’ California Bucket List! You know how it goes…some things only come around once a year, weekends fill up with unexpected things, it’s just not in the budget, or maybe you just need a weekend to spend at home cleaning up and organizing your life! Last weekend, however, I finally crossed off something on my list that has been on there since probably from the time I moved here! The Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.
(We just can’t seem to get enough Pasadena in our lives these days, apparently!)
The Rose Bowl Flea Market is located, like I mentioned, at The Rose Bowl, in Pasadena. The actual vendors themselves don’t set up inside the Bowl, but rather around it. And that’s probably a smart move, considering there are over 2,500 vendors that come in and set up every Second Sunday of each month. I love that this event only happens once a month, because it’s rare enough that you have to plan and can make an event of it with friends, but it’s not too rare that if you miss it, you’re out of luck for an entire year! It’s been going on for over 45 years now, so obviously they’re doing something right.
Alex & I made the plans to finally attend this gigantic Flea last month, and so we marked it on our calendar, and woke up early on Sunday morning to pick up two friends — our friend Josh, who has an amazing eye for buying broken things, fixing them, and selling them on ebay, & our friend Olivia, who has a passion for art and so appreciates this kind of outing.
Some definite perks about the Rose Bowl Flea:
Parking is free. And there is a ton of it. You can pay for VIP parking if you’re planning on purchasing a bunch of furniture or large items & you don’t want to cart them around all over the bumpy grass and dirt.
Admission is only $9 to get in at 9am. If you’re really looking for some rare finds, you can pay $12 to get in at 8am, $15 to enter at 7am, or $20 to start bright and early at 5am! This might be worth it to some, but seeing as all the vendors won’t be set up until 9am, I think the 9am admission works just fine for most people 😉 Vendors start packing up at 3pm, but you can fit in some last-minute bargaining until 4:30.
There’s lots of food and seating! Food is averagely-priced. The special is a hot dog and drink for $4.00, but you can also bring your own snacks and drinks! (I would recommend lots of water if you go in the summer months).
We had a really great morning and afternoon wandering around the Bowl! We split up and the boys started in the actual “Flea Market” section, where you can find lots of antique items and furniture (There were a ton of Mid-Century Modern items), and tons of clothing and shoes. If you’re looking for anything, you can probably find it there. There are lots of knick-knacks and plenty of garden supplies, and even plants! If you walk into this section with a creative eye and the notion that most items just need a little TLC, you can really walk away with some treasures. Olivia and I went the opposite direction and started in the “new & handmade items” area, where it’s geared more towards crafts, boutique clothing, plants, etc. Whichever way you choose to start, you’ll end up wandering into the other section eventually, so it all depends on what you’re looking for!
Some tips I would give if you are planning on attending the Rose Bowl Flea for the first time:
Go with a list. I didn’t make a list of things I was looking for on my first trip, and I think that’s where I messed up! With 2,500 different vendors, your senses can start to go wild and you might feel overwhelmed with everything you’re taking in. But if you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, then you can hone in on those items and skip the booths that aren’t necessary to your vision.
Make a lap and come back. Since there are so many similar items scattered throughout the gigantic area, it’s a good idea to make a round first before purchasing anything, because you might find something similar that you love more later on!
Don’t forget to bargain! You’re at a flea market, this should be a given!
Bring your own bag! Or cart. Or wagon. If you’re planning on making multiple purchases, bring something to carry your treasures in!
Drive a large car if there’s any chance of you purchasing a piece of furniture, even the tiiiiiniest inkling! If you’ve been thinking about a new bookshelf or some new wrought-iron shelves for your porch plants, chances are you’ll probably find it here. And at a great price. So save yourself the trouble and come in your larger vehicle if at all possible!
Bring water! It gets hot out there, and you’re walking around all day. Be smart.
Wear comfortable shoes! Duh.
Don’t bring people who will complain the whole time. Flea Market shopping takes time and energy, so make sure you bring someone along who has a similar interest in it! Even if you aren’t looking for the same things, you have to be prepared to split up at times, and so bring someone who can handle shopping on their own and who is prepared to spend the entire day there.
And that was our first Pasadena Flea Experience! Josh walked away with a couple of different items, as did Alex and Olivia. And I walked away with a new top and a couple of Spanish tiles that I’ve turned into drink coasters for our living room! All in all, I’d say it was a very successful day and experience, and an event that we’ll be sure to come back to! I kept telling Olivia how I’d love to take my brother here the next time he’s in town…he always has a way of helping me see things in a new light.