This past weekend, I decided to trek out to Pasadena to experience a true Los Angeles institution — the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
This flea market happens every second Sunday of the month in the parking lots and concourse that surround the stadium, and has been going on for almost 50 years. In total, the market has seven miles of shopping — over 2,500 vendors and 20,000 visitors come every time.
I try my best to take advantage of living just outside of Los Angeles, and this was next on the list. My girl boss inspiration Jen Gotch goes every month and documents it wonderfully on Snapchat, and getting a glimpse of the stuff she’s found there (including but not limited to short sleeve sweatshirts, pin flair and bandanas) fueled my interest. Unfortunately I’m not decorating a new apartment or house, but I went just to see what it was like and see if it really lived up to the hype. It does.
If you’re curious, there’s this whole cache on the Internet that’ll give you tips on how to have the best experience. I got there at 10 and paid $9 for admission, but if you were looking for furniture it would be worth it to show up earlier and pay more on the sliding admission scale. I brought a purse because I wasn’t planning on buying anything I couldn’t carry, but many people bring push carts for their hauls. The weekend weather was overcast and sprinkly, but bringing your own water and wearing a hat/sunscreen are good ideas. And since it’s a flea market, you’ll need to bring a wad of cash.
When I got there, I was immediately overwhelmed. There is just so much to look at, and you swim through a sea of people. I walked through the entire market, looking at housewares, clothing and knick knacks. Half of the market is devoted to antiques and vintage merchandise, which is everything from clothing to furniture to collectibles. The other half is considered new merchandise, typical of what you might see at a county fair: plants, services you can buy, boutique items and general knick knacks. You can find just about anything at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
My favorite things at the market were gorgeous glass knobs and handles by the trayful, turquoise jewelry, colorful rugs, piles and piles of black-and-white textiles (which I’m trying to brainstorm a DIY project for) and big potted plants. If I was decorating an apartment or house, it would be a great place to go and find home accessories. Some of the furniture is pricy, but it all has more character and style than something you’d buy at a superstore.
If you’re looking for a real LA experience, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is the place to go. Everything screams the true Angeleno aesthetic, from what the vendors are selling to the people who shop there. Vintage and used items are a really significant part of the culture here, for people who aren’t celebrities or multi-millionaires. These people go every month to hang out with friends, pick up something for their wardrobe or house and get a slice of culture, and that’s a great vibe to be a part of. When I was moseying through one of the aisles, I saw Drew Barrymore — bedecked in printed pants and orange-tinted sunglasses — picking out a rug and discussing it with her crew. That’s about as LA as something could possibly get.
I bought one thing at the flea that I was really excited to bring home. I’ve always loved agate slices, but never found one that was reasonably priced. I bought this beautiful purple one from a crystals vendor for $9. I haven’t decided its home yet, but it’ll probably end up on my bedside table or my dresser.
Next time I go out to the Rose Bowl, I think I might get some new knobs for my dresser, or a Himalayan salt lamp. I’m sure that next time there will be even more treasures to find.
Have you been to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, or want to tell me about a flea market you love? Let’s talk about it in the comments.