While the outdoor farmers markets aren’t quite ready to roll out their goods, the Spring flea market season is upon us — and the fun is family friendly. Put on your bargain-hunting hat and plow through antiques, vintage jewelry, furniture and other gems. Your little allowance earner will be tempted to burn his savings on toys, baseball cards, plush animals, sports equipment and even old-fashioned treats like popcorn, fudge and ice cream. Read on for fleas and markets located in Chicago or within a quick hop, skip and a jump.
photo: Washington Street Market via Julie Norkus
Washington Street Market
What began as an experiment pop-up holiday market in downtown Naperville 6 years ago with 10 vendors is now a full-fledged upscale indoor flea with over 50 artisans. You’ll find booths packed full of vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, jewelry, home accessories, clothing, soaps and much more. Kids will love picking a bar of goat milk soap from Gretta’s Goats or nibbling on fresh, handmade toffee at Tiddleywink Toffee’s booth. While you’re in the area, be sure to check all the shopping and dining Downtown Naperville has to offer. Tip: Newly opened Quiubo right down the road has amazing Mexican cuisine and unbelievable margaritas to wash it down.
Dates: Apr. 7
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Naperville Central High School, 440 Aurora Ave., Naperville
Kane County Flea Market
In far west suburban St. Charles, hundreds of vendors spread out on cement paths and grassy knolls, and set up shop in covered sheds. The pastoral setting sets the mood for good, old-fashioned bargain shopping (and haggling, if you’re game for that). Helen Robinson, know by many as the “Queen Flea,” started the market over 45 years ago. More than four decades later, it’s still considered among the best of the Midwest. Be sure to grab the kids a cup of fresh squeezed lemonade – it’s some of the best around!
Dates: Apr. 7 & 8; May 5 & 6; Jun. 2 & 3; Jun. 30 & Jul. 1; Aug. 4 & 5; Sept. 1 & 2; Oct. 6 &7; Nov. 3 & 4; Dec. 1 & 2
Hours: Sat., noon-5 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5; free for ages 12 & under
Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Rd., St. Charles
photo: Randolph Street Market
Randolph Street Market
Alright, this one goes way beyond your typical Spring market — it’s the largest urban market in the country, in fact. This market hosts events all through the summer, into the fall, and is probably one of the best fleas to hit the city. Peruse the market for smartly priced antique, vintage and modern goods, everything from embroidered hankies to estate jewelry to custom-made gifts. Be sure to check out the kids area inside Plumbers Hall and don’t forget to grab a treasure map for your little pirates.
Dates: Apr. 28 & 29, May 26 & 27, Jun. 23 & 24, Jul. 28 & 29, Aug. 25 & 26, Sept. 29 & 30, Oct. 27 & 28, Nov. 17 & 18, Dec. 15 & 16
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $10; $40 family package (2 adults/2 bar drinks, up to 4 kids & snacks); free for ages 12 & under
Chicago’s Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington St., West Loop
Spend a weekend perusing the festive tents of over 150 vendors focusing on vintage and handmade wares at this outdoor Spring market. Shopping on Friday will cost you a bit more, but it allows for first-look shopping with live music, delicious food and a cash bar. Oh, and a Friday visit guarantees free admission on Saturday. As an added bonus, they have porters available to help get your finds loaded in the car.
Dates: May 11 & 12; Sept. 7 & 8
Hours: Fri., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Fri. preview party $10 online or $15 at the gate; Sat., $5; free for ages 12 & under
Effingham County Fairgrounds, 722 E. Cumberland Rd., Altamont
Three French Hens
Several years ago, three women set out to show their neighbors that they didn’t need a passport to enjoy the beauty and treasures of a traditional French market. They created this charming attraction in the streets of Morris, Illinois, about an hour southwest of Chicago. The market has a romantic, Euro feel that echoes the look of the historic town it’s located in. Speaking of, don’t leave town without checking out Letty Mae’s Tea Room, where hot soups, sandwiches and salads on served on vintage china, and Sweet Tooth, an old-fashioned candy store known for its made-in-house popcorn, fudge and ice cream.
Dates: May 12, Jun. 9, Jul. 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8, Oct. 13
Hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Grundy County Fair Grounds, 8890 N. Route 47, Morris
Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade is known for featuring a thoughtfully curated selection of handmade indie-craft goods. Each Fair gathers 150+ new and seasoned independent vendors, all in celebration of the DIY spirit. Along with the talented artisans, you’ll find street food, beer/booze, live music and interactive experiences. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation, walk or bike to the fair as parking is limited at the venue.
Dates: May 12 & 13
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Halsted St., between W. 18th St. & S. Canalport, Pilsen
Where’s your favorite Spring flea? Share in the Comments below!
— Maria Chambers