There’s an almost undeniable magic about antiques and vintage garments. Maybe it’s the fact that each item has a history and has impacted someone else’s life before it found its way into yours. Maybe it has something to do with why “Antiques Roadshow” is so mesmerizing. A show about old people going through their attics shouldn’t be addicting. With secondhand items, there is some sort of mystery—you don’t know exactly where everything has been or what emotional significance it had to someone before you.
The antiquities’ allure is not lost on Los Angeles. In a shabby-chic metropolis like this, it’s no wonder there is a wealth of flea markets just waiting to be explored.
The fact that your dorm room doesn’t really warrant such finery is irrelevant. These stores and markets are like a real, live-version of Pinterest, planning out your future apartment, but giving a tactile experience as well. They can also serve as inspiration, cluing you in to your own preferred aesthetic. Big, statement pieces of vintage jewelry spice up an outfit like nothing else can, giving any ensemble an air of cool—as well as something to distinguish you from the pack. In any event, visiting a flea market or antique shop is a fun way to kill a Sunday that could get you something truly special in the process.
Here are some fun spots to check out for some of the best antiques and vintage items in Southern Califorina.
Rose Bowl Flea Market
1001 Rose Bowl Drive
Pasadena, Calif. 91103
The Rose Bowl holds a special place in the hearts of college football fans around the nation, but it also has a special place when it comes to vintage and antique wares. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is the biggest and most intense of the L.A. flea markets. Though admission is around $8 (depending on when you go), the sheer entertainment value is worth the ticket price. It’s held on the second Sunday of every month, and the vendors are set up by 9 a.m. (though if you want to pay a little extra, you can come early so you get your pick of the merchandise). This place is undoubtedly a feast for the senses, and potentially one of the coolest places to get lost in.
Pasadena Antique Mall
309 E. Green Street
Pasadena, Calif. 91101
This huge antique store in Pasadena contains a labyrinth of a random assortment of goods. There is a fun collection of old Carnival masks that are just begging for a photo-op. When I was here, I found a box full of vintage letters available for around $2. My friend and I spent a long time trying to guess things about the authors of the letters and examining their penmanship (which was infinitely better than either of ours). Many of the items in here are on the pricier side, but it is certainly a fun place to browse around and see what little knickknacks you can find. It is not a market; it is a store, so there’s no particular rush or timeframe in which to check it out.
Melrose Trading Post
(First Location -- only $3 every Sun.)
Fairfax High School
7850 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90036
(Second Location -- only $2 every Sat.)
Taft Charter High School
5461 Winnetka Ave.
Woodland Hills, Calif. 91364
If the Rose Bowl Flea Market is a little overwhelming, try the Melrose Trading Post. With 250 vendors, it’s a mere tenth of the size of the Rose Bowl. The $3 admission fee is also less of a commitment, and that money goes to help the high school that supports it. It’s held every Sunday, and the clientele is generally young, and the vendors cater to this demographic. There’s also a fabulous food truck scene for when you shop up an appetite. Being able to haggle over prices also makes this type of shopping excursion particularly fun. Getting something unique at an amazing price feels like an accomplishment. Try asking BCBG to lower their prices.
Long Beach Antique Market
4901 E. Conant Street
Long Beach, Calif. 90808
This is kind of like the younger cousin in the family of flea markets. It is held on the third Sunday of every month, so if you miss the Rose Bowl, it can be a fun alternative. The website boasts that there are numerous celebrity sightings, so keep your eyes out for famous people. The $5 entry fee grants you access to more than 800 vendors, all touting their wares that include vintage clothing and jewelry, as well as antique furniture.