Booths piled high with what some might call old junk as far as the eye can see. Music, food trucks and other small business owners selling their delicious wares. Pony rides, hula hooping, one-of-a-kind trinkets, hats, toys, and many other awesome items. Where are you and why? Quite simply, you’ve most likely made your way to one of the Bay Area’s fantastic flea markets for a day of hunting, picking and searching for what may be the “newest” cool item in your house, an old toy which brings joy to a new generation of kid, great food, and old-fashioned family fun. There are several spots around San Francisco which open their gates, sometimes once a weekend, sometimes once a month, to all those willing to have a little patience in hopes of finding treasures with not only super cool stories, but a one-of-a-kind look to make your house a home. Follow your noses to the tasty food booths or trucks and enjoy noshing on homemade sweet potato pies, kettle korn, and other yummy goodies. Spend a Sunday or two digging through the junk and wandering through the rows, the whole family will be sure come back happy.

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San Francisco

Treasure Island Flea Market
Hands down the most kiddo friendly flea markets in the Bay. Search the treasure troves, (pun intended!) do a jig to any of the live music from local indie bands, or try your hand at hula hooping with Choi. More cool stuff for kids? Try the scavenger hunt, which gives customers a chance to win a $20 gift card good for any vendor, or the maker classes, which are usually art workshops for everyone to check out. The show organizers have hosted the Marine Mammal Center, held BMX bike shows and once even spotlighted a Hot Wheels race on over 300 feet of vintage tracks! After chowing down on gourmet goodies from any of the best SF food trucks, head for Harvey’s Gourmet Mini Donuts, the kids will go nuts for these round bites of dough, which are delivered hot and fresh via a conveyor belt and served by a smiling man donning a top hat.  Throw in some dog adoption agencies that encourage lots of petting, the incredible view and you’ve got an amazing day guaranteed to create memories for the whole family.

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Make an entrance: Don’t feel like driving? Hop on a water taxi and arrive in style. Call 415-339-0196 to reserve a spot.
 
Treasure Island Flea Market
1 Avenue of the Palms
Treasure Island, San Francisco, Ca
Dates: Last Saturday & Sunday of the month
Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost: Adults: $3, Kids 12 and under: Free
Online: treasureislandflea.com

East Bay
 
Alameda Point Antiques Faire
The largest antiques faire in Northern California is bound to have some family fun at the ready. Held on the first Sunday of every month will often attract up to 10,000 peeps combing the booths of over 800 vendors. This is most definitely a place parents will want to take turns with the kiddos, as there are rows and rows of fabulous stuff worth checking out. Youngsters will dig the vintage kiddie books and funky old toys like the once spotted and in perfect condition replicas of characters from the Jim Henson cult classic, The Dark Crystal.  There are metal robots, pull toys, dollhouses, old trains and much more. Mom will die for the vintage clothes and designer shoes being sold for a song, Dad will get a kick out of old records and posters. Everyone will want to suck down some fresh lemonade and who can resist freshly made kettle corn, cupcakes and pizza?

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Alameda Point Antiques Faire
2900 Navy Way
Alameda, Ca
Dates: First Sunday of the month
Hours: 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
Cost: Adults: $15 – Free depending on arrival time, Kids 15 and Under: Free
Online: alamedapointantiquesfaire.com

West End Flea Market
This flea market flies under the radar, making the hunt for treasure even more exciting. Happening every Saturday in Alameda, live music and free admission makes it a great outing. The toy and baby gear options are incredible! Steve the Toy Dealer is a constant presence, and always gets a smile from kids coming through the market; he sells specialty toys many of which start at just $1! Make your way to the brand new Performers Stage,  where musical entertainment will have bodies in motion with talents such as the Jamming Nachos, a band of brothers and sisters ranging from 8 – 16. Another recent crowd pleaser was a local Tahitian groups with kiddos as young as 4 performing for the crowds.  From jumperoos to vintage lunch boxes, glammed up hair accessories and yummy snacks like Bombzies BBQ, Peter’s Kettle Corn and Mustache Mike’s Italian Ices, this is definitely a fun spot for the whole family.

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FYI: Every Saturday features something different, cool picks include 1st Saturday Baby & Children’s Sale, 2nd Saturdays for vintage and antique wares, 4th Saturday for toys and comics.

West End Flea Market
555 Ralph Appezatto Memorial Parkway
Parking Lot C
Alameda, Ca
Dates: Every Saturday
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Admission: Free
Online: westendfleamarket.com

South Bay

San Jose Flea Market
A family tradition since 1960, this 120 acre event is truly a family affair. There are over 30 snack bars and carts selling delicious foods like the made from scratch, hand dipped corn dogs, mouth watering BBQ, yummy nachos, corn on the cob and all styles of sweet treats. There is a brand new FunZone featuring cool kiddie rides with a Ferris wheel, bounce houses, and the ever classic antique merry-go-round. Three different playgrounds throughout the market are waiting for kiddos to enjoy and there are two arcades for the older ones in the family. There is a section for the farmer’s market selling seasonal organic produce, there are pony rides, and even authentic mariachis singing for all to enjoy. Early Bird Special: Get to the market before 8:00 am on Sat & Sun and park for free.

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San Jose Flea Market
1590 Berryessa Road
San Jose, Ca
Dates: Every Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun
Hours: Dawn -Dusk
Cost: Free, Parking: Wed, Fri: $3.00, Sat & Sun: $7.00
Phone: 408-453-1110
Online: sjfm.com

Marin
 
Marin Outdoor Antique Market
This market, held on the second Sunday of the month, May – Oct may is a total win-win for the whole family. Located right next to the legendary Marin County Farmer’s Market, which offers a petting zoo, pony rides, bouncy houses and those delicious Belgian waffles, it’s a perfect chance for mom to look for the perfect shabby chic addition to the home while Dad and the kiddos enjoy the fruits of the farmer’s labor. Not to mention the Civic Center’s Lagoon Park, with ducks waiting to be fed, picnic tables for lunch, lawn bowling and the playground complete with playhouse, swings, climbing structures and musical instruments.

boyinmakerclass

Marin Outdoor Antique Market
Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, Ca
Dates: Second Sunday of every month, May – Oct
Hours: 9:00 am – 3:00
Cost: Free parking and admission
Online: goldengateshows.com/marinoutdoor.htm

Honorable Mentions
These markets and fairs do not top the list for family favorites in the Bay Area, but they are still super cool spots to find awesome vintage/antique wares and are totally worthy of a mention.

Pleasanton Antique Fair – pleasantonantiquefair.com

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Berkeley Flea Market – berkeleyfleamarket.com

Bay Area Antique Fair – bayareaantiquefair.com

Which flea market to you enjoy the most with family? We want to know!

–Gabrielle Cullen

Picture #1: Kid at Alameda Point Faire by Allen Michaan
Picture #2: Family at Flea Market Courtesy of Treasure Island Flea Market
Picture #3: Vintage Toys by Allen Machine
Picture #4: Star Wars Toys Courtesy of West End Flea Market
Picture #5: Hand Dipped Corn Dogs Courtesy of San Jose Flea Market via Facebook
Picture #6: Boy at Maker Class Courtesy of Treasure Island Flea Market