11 Things You Should Know About The Rose Bowl Flea Market

Picture courtesy of LA Basic Flickr

Picture courtesy of LA Basic Flickr

Some say it’s better than a Sweet Sixteen birthday on MTV. Some even say it’s better than Christmas. Regardless of what others may say (they’re right), it’s the best flea market on the West Coast, and it’s located right on the east side of LA in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl Flea Market occurs on the second Sunday of every month, rain or shine, all year long. It has anything and everything your heart could ever desire or dare to dream of, all in one place – shoes, clothes, furniture, jewelry, sunglasses, crafts, keepsakes, art, fabric, bikes, costumes, music, and vintage anything (only to name a few).

Like many, I moved to LA with nothing more than what I was able to fit into my car. For the first few weeks, I lived with friends and slept on an air mattress. I then found a sublet and lived with someone else’s things for three more months. About a month ago, I finally found my own place. I quickly started researching places around town that sold furniture – whether it was new, used, antique, vintage, or reclaimed. Once I started researching places to shop, I realized everything I wanted was well outside of my price range. Craigslist was good for some of the smaller things, and I was still firmly avoiding IKEA, so I felt like I was running out of options, and fast. Someone I worked with mentioned the Rose Bowl Flea Market and said I should check it out for some great deals. They used words including “amazing” and “unbelievable,” so I thought OK, fine, what could I lose?

Being that I was slightly skeptical, I started researching what people were saying on Yelp about this supposed “magical flea market in a far away land” on the east side. I gathered my notes the following weekend and embarked on my trip. I arrived around 8am and was instantly transported into a place where everything I could have ever imagined materialized right in front of my eyes. I stopped at the ATM one last time before purchasing my ticket and low and behold, four hours later, I had spent every dollar I came with – $1,200 to be exact. What exactly did I get for that much you ask? Let me tell you: a reclaimed wood desk, a large vintage tool chest, a mid century modern kitchen table, a gorgeous mid century modern arm chair, a magazine rack, a night stand, a dresser, a side table, a wool blanket, and a piece of coral for decoration. That’s a total of EIGHT pieces of furniture, plus some “knick knacks” for the price of ONE piece of new furniture from one of those designers stores that are all over LA (and all found in one place, unlike Craigslist).

However, had I not read those tips on Yelp, I may not have been as successful as I was. Here are some great tips to make your Rose Bowl Flea Market visit a success:

1. Get over the price of the tickets to get in (around $8-$15 per person depending on the time). It’s worth it.

2. Dress for the weather and the walking. Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and maybe an umbrella to shield you from the sun.

3. Bring your own water. (water can be almost $10 for a bottle). Also, drink lots of it. You can get dehydrated a lot faster than you think.

4. Have a plan of attack. Are you going for something specific or just rummaging? If you’re looking for something specific, arrive early (8am is perfect) to beat the crowd (which will be at its all time high around noon/1pm) and to have dibs on the best stuff. If you’re just rummaging, go whenever (tickets become a little cheaper after 9am).

5. Where to look. If you’re looking for furniture, enter through the front and go to your left (the farthest left you can take – you’ll see the furniture lining the fence on your way in). If you’re looking for clothes, proceed through the furniture section and find your way to one of the small bridges, and cross it in order to hit the jackpot. Avoid the area right where you walk in and inside the stadium – it’s full of vendors who are selling new/expensive things (which defeats the purpose of a flea market).

6. Take inventory. Make a quick run through when you first get there and scope out the vendors you’d like to spend the most of your time with – you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more in a shorter period of time.

7. Drive something big and bring a tape measure. You’ll need to take away your purchases in something and you’ll need to know how much you can fit in it. Measure the inside of your vehicle and then measure your furniture (or other large purchases) to see if it will fit before you purchase it. If you’re like me and know you’ll be spending an entire day there buying a lot of furniture, consider renting a small U-haul for the day to be able to take everything home in one trip.

8. Bring a small cart. You can rent one there for the same price it costs to buy one and your shoulders will thank you at the end of the day.

9. It’s easy to get overwhelmed (and lost). This place is gigantic, so do what you need to do to remember where your purchases are, so you can pick them up when you leave. Bringing a friend along will definitely help.

10.  Know that this flea market closes at 4pm. Vendors will start packing up around 3pm, so plan accordingly.

11. Barter your little butt off. Know that the people who are selling this stuff don’t want to lug it back home at the end of the day.

Set a reminder on your phone. Mark the days on your calendar. Set your alarm clock for early. This is not a flea market to be missed! It is the Godfather of them all; the Flea Market that all other flea markets look up to and wish to be one day. People even drive in from surrounding states to attend this thing. So go forth, be fruitful, and good luck, my friend. For more info: http://www.rgcshows.com/RoseBowl.aspx

Other flea markets to check out in LA: The Santa Monica Flea Market (every 4th Sunday, never on the 5th Sunday), The Melrose Trading Post (every Sunday), The Pasadena City College Flea Market (every 1st Sunday), Venice High School Antique and Collectables Market (every 2nd Saturday)

Sarah Ekstorm

Sarah Ekstrom is an Interactive Designer and contributing writer for ImMovingtoLA.com hailing from the Midwest. You can check out her personal work at sarahekstrom.com


  • Reply March 4, 2013


    Don’t under estimate the cool stuff you can get in the Arts & Crafts section on the far side of the stadium. There is some really great merchandise at super low prices. This is stuff you cannot find in stores, but is not used.

  • […] LOCATION: Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena PRICE: 5-7am = $20; 7-8am = $15; 8-9am = $10; after 9am = $8; children under 12 admitted free. There is plenty of free parking available, however, if you’d like to be closer, there is a $15 parking available as well. DOG FRIENDLY: No…you can’t bring your dog, which sucks but the crowds are just too big. GENERAL VIBE: Kind of all over the map, but you will definitely see your gaggle of girls who look like they are dressed for a night out on the town on town going clubbing. DO NOT DO THIS OTHERWISE I MIGHT PUNCH YOU IF I SEE YOU WALKING BY. INSIDER TIPS: Along the first aisle (along the fence) is a killer spot for breakfast burritos and flavored lemonade around half-way down. Get your cash BEFORE coming to the Rose Bowl flea….their ATM charges like a $10 or $15 service fee…it’s insane in the membrane. Also, you might want to splurge for paid parking ($15) if you will be buying lots of stuff. It is an extra expense, but I find it’s almost always worth it to have easier access to your car. Most furniture vendors will work with someone who will be on site that offers fairly cheap delivery of any larger pieces (usually $50 – $75 depending on the size of the piece). Wear sunblock and/or a hat…shit gets H-O-T. IMPORTANT: Do not, I repeat, do not bring anyone here who is “not really so into” flea markets. They will be overwhelmed, and miserable and will want to leave after 15 minutes. Which will make you feel murder-y and never want to speak to them again. EXTRA CREDIT READING: Official Site, Yelp Reviews, 11 Things You Should Know About the Rose Bowl Flea Market […]

  • Reply April 10, 2015

    Ryan Hartford

    Awesome posting! Definitely right about checking out the entire Rose Bowl, the arts and crafts section is one of my favorites, and this Dunday will include my photography!

    We will be located directly in the back of the Rose Bowl stadium. If you can’t make it, Check out our shop-

  • Since you are new to LA you may not have heard of our flea market in the SF Valley, Topanga Vintage Market. “Angeleno”, “California Home+Design” and “CBS Local” have listed it as one of LA’s top 5, so hope you can make it on the 4th Sunday of the month some time! (May 24, June 28, July 26…)
    It’s 180+ all vintage sellers with a row of select artisans, great food trucks, live music and only $3 to get in, with lots of free parking. Not as gargantuan as RB, but with as much variety and vintage, vintage, vintage!
    Great posting BTW! – Patrice

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