If there’s anything my friends and family know about me, they definitely know I love bargain hunting! Whether it’s perusing thrift stores, looking up sales online, selling articles of clothing I no longer wear to second-hand stores, and more, I have taught myself to be financially conscious and enjoy stumbling upon good-deal treasures. Last weekend one of my dearest friends, Liz, and I braved the Pasadena heat and explored a bargain hunter’s paradise: the well-known Rose Bowl Flea Market. Visiting this L.A. favorite flea market has been on my L.A. bucketlist since I first moved here, so I was very excited to finally make the journey over here. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is only open on the second Sunday of each month, which has made planning a time to visit somewhat difficult for me this year so far.
Built in 1922, the Rose Bowl is an athletic stadium located in Pasadena, just outside of Northeast Los Angeles. The Rose Bowl is the 17th-largest stadium in the world and the 11th-largest stadium in the United States, and the Rose Bowl has even been named as a United States National Historic Landmark. The Rose Bowl stadium has been the home football field for the UCLA Bruins since 1982 and also hosts concerts, special events, filming’s…and of course, the Rose Bowl Flea Market! For almost 50 years, more 20,000 people visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market each and every month.
Whether you’re looking for clothes, jewelry, antiques, furniture, art, house décor, event décor, plants, shoes, or just about vintage anything – this is the place for you to explore if you’re in the area! For the duration of this blog post I will be sharing 10 tips for those planning to visit the Flea Market, with my thoughts and stories weaved in between the content. :) Check out my tips below:
1. Bring cash. General admission costs $9.00 per person to enter after 9:00am, and children under 12 are admitted free with an adult. I was disappointed to learn that the Flea Market charged an admission fee, but I still think it was worth it to experience this L.A. staple as least one (although I’ll probably be back). Cash is also wise to carry with you here because some vendors accept credit cards, some do not. And just a heads up: the ATM on-site charges a $5 fee upon withdrawal. #NoThankYou.
2. There’s no need to stress about parking. Because unless you want to pay for VIP parking, general parking is free! We arrived at about 12:30pm on a Sunday and had no trouble finding a free parking spot with only about a 5-minute walk to the entrance of the Flea Market. Pay close attention to the signs posted as you enter the Rose Bowl parking lot, and you should have little or no trouble finding a free parking spot.
3. Hydration is key – but pricey if you purchase water on-site. I’d recommend bringing your own unopened water bottle because my friend Liz and I both paid $5 for a Dasani water bottle. How overpriced is that? It’s very warm and sunny in Pasadena on most summer days, so you can become dehydrated much faster than you may think. Plenty of clean restrooms are located throughout the Flea Market, so feel free to drink up!
4. Speaking of the heat, make sure to bring or wear protection from the sun. Whether that includes sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen (lather up, my friends), parasol, super cool umbrella hat, etc. you’ll want to have something that shades you throughout your adventure here. There is little to no shade at the Flea Market and the last thing you need to leave here with is a bad sunburn.
5. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes (you will do A LOT of walking – the Flea Market is pretty huge) as well as comfortable, light-fit clothing. From looking through racks of clothing for sale, to bending over to pick up items that spark your interest, to standing and/or walking most of the day, being uncomfortable will make your time here not nearly as enjoyable. Comfort, for me, always trumps “dressing to impress,” and the Flea Market has a very casual vibe to it.
6. Map it out. As soon as you enter the Flea Market after you purchase your admission ticket, grab a map from the information kiosk. The map is color coded, will help ensure you don’t miss out any area, and will inform you of where to go to look for certain items. My friend Liz had a coworker hosting a booth in the white area (vintage clothing, shoes, and antiques), and this map made it easy for us to find her and her adorable pop-up shop “Carny Couture.”
7. Grub before you go. Before I visited the Rose Bowl Flea Market, I read on Yelp that the food here was not only overpriced, but overall not that tasty. So, my friend Liz and I grabbed brunch at The Lincoln in Pasadena before we ventured over to the Flea Market (highly recommended!). I was glad we ate before we arrived because once we got there we had plenty of energy to explore and the few food vendors present did not look very appealing to either of us (and yes, they were super overpriced).
8. Bring somethin’ to carry your goodies in. Since it was our first time at the Flea Market, neither of us thought to brought anything to carry our purchased items in (#noobs). I’m pretty sure that not many of the vendors give away shopping bags if you purchase something from them, so I’d recommend bringing either a cart (like this one) or a large bag of some sort to carry all of your treasures in. The Flea Market also sells rolling carts as you walk in, if this interests you (could also be good for farmer’s markets, buying groceries, etc.).
9. Plan your day accordingly. The Flea Market opens at 9:00am and vendors start packing up at 3:00pm. We thought it may be too crowded if we arrived early, so we waited until about 12:30pm to arrive and explored until the vendors began packing up. I’m not sure what the crowds would have been like earlier in the day, but between 1:00pm-3:00pm the crowd level was totally reasonable (even comfortable enough for the introvert in me), and I never felt overwhelmed or anxious by the amount of people that were there.
10. Relax and have fun! There’s no doubt you will be able to spend hours here browsing the unique vendors, shopping for special gems, people watching, and spending quality time with whomever you go with (or quality YOU time!). While it can be easy for some to get overwhelmed by the amount of vendors and walking distance to cover here, shift your energy toward being excited about the treasures that are waiting for you to find them. Get ready to explore to your hearts content!
I hope you have a fun and memorable adventure to the infamous Rose Bowl Flea Market if you get the chance to visit, and I hope you found the tips above helpful! The Rose Bowl is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103and is open on the second Sunday of each month from 9:00am-3:00pm. For more information, click here to visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market’s website.
EXPLORE YOUR HEART OUT
L.A. is an amazing and diverse city full of culture, history, art, nature, museums, and attractions - which results in countless things to do & see - no matter your budget. Time after time I find that when you seek new adventure, you will find it!
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