Visitors to Illinois might be kept occupied with architectural masterpieces, culinary delights and a world-class music scene, but there’s also plenty to keep those in search of unique retail therapy busy too.
Along with the Windy City’s boutique-lined streets and big brand names, Illinois is home to some of the best, and most unique flea markets in America. From arts and crafts focused fleas to huge antiques markets, hipster street stalls to sprawling famers markets, these are the 15 best flea markets in Illinois.
1. Wolff’s Flea Market (Rosemont)
Having celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, Wolff’s Flea Market in Rosemont is one of the best flea markets within easy reach of Chicago. This large, Sunday-only market is the second Wolff flea in the state, carrying on from the success of their weekend-long Palatine market.
With over 700 vendors, and 12,000 visitors on average each Sunday, this market is one of the most popular in Illinois. Opened in 1991, the market runs each Sunday, from April through to October at its Allstate Arena location.
You’ll find a huge mix of items here, but because of its popularity, those looking to pick up a real bargain or rare collectible will need to arrive before the crowds descend.
2. Kane County Flea Market
Named by Jet Setter Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Flea Markets in the World” alongside Paris, London and Oslo, is one of the best fleas to visit in Illinois. Running for over 40 years, the busy market is the perfect place to browse, find unique collectables or take the family for a fun day out.
With hundreds of indoor, outdoor and shed vendors – selling everything from jewellery to books, furniture and clothes – the market has become a popular place for members of the film industry to find unusual pieces and props, as well as a treasure-trove for real collectors.
3. Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market
Running on the third Sunday of every month, Chicago’s only all-vintage flea – Vintage Garage – is one of the best places in the state to find retro clothing, vintage gifts, and antique merchandise.
Started with the mission of bringing together some of the best vintage sellers and antique dealers in Chicago under one roof, the Broadway and Argyle flea runs from April until November, with merchandise from the late 19th century, through to the late 1990’s.
Special themed markets run throughout the market’s yearly calendar, including a “Record Revamp” and BBQ for Father’s Day and a special end of season extravaganza.
4. Swap-O-Rama Flea Markets
Referred to as the “Granddaddy of Flea Markets”, Swamp-O-Rama Flea Market at 41st and Ashland is the oldest flea in Chicago. Founded by Californian Rex Meadows in 1969, the market was first located on Columbus Avenue, before more Swap-O-Rama markets were opened throughout the wider Chicago area.
With an average of 20,000 people visiting the flea in the summer months, you’ll want to arrive early to find the best bargains, including garden items, jewellery, tools and a huge selection of fresh produce.
The market runs on Tuesdays between April and November, and Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the year.
5. Fox Valley Flea Market
A recent addition to Illinois flea market scene, the Fox Valley Flea Market in Elgin is open year-round, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
This large flea has one of the most diverse collections of vendors, with computers and electronics to car accessories, home and garden tools, clothing and kids toys and games.
Market browsers can also shop at the on-site Dollar Store, grab a bite to eat at one of the great restaurants or treat the family to a cone from the traditional ice cream parlour.
With free admission and parking, Fox Valley Flea Market is a budget-friendly, family day out.
6. Randolph Street Market
Chicago’s European-style Randolph Street Market is one of the most famous in the state, bringing together the Chicago Antique Market, the Indie Designer Market, and Modern Vintage Chicago under one roof.
Held in the historic Plumbers Union Hall, the market runs year-round, with special themed markets in the summer and winter, including the Holiday Market in November and December.
The focus of this established flea is on vintage and antiques, with vendors selling everything from vintage jewellery and designer clothing to homeware, furniture and gifts.
Admission to the market is $10 on the gate or $8 if you book ahead online, but for serious fashion followers and antique collectors, there is no better flea market in Illinois.
7. Grayslake Illinois Antique & Vintage Flea Market
Named as one of the top flea markets in America by Romantic Homes Magazine, the monthly Grayslake Illinois Antique & Vintage Flea Market attracts both new and regular visitors to its huge indoor expo hall.
Comics, collectables and home décor are just some of the items that you can find at this flea, with many new vendors each month. Vintage jewellery and clothing collectors will also love the wide selection of stalls selling designer labels and unique antique pieces.
The flea runs on the second weekend of each month, with children under 12 going free and adult tickets available on the gate for just $7.
8. Scout Flea Market
Held in Yorkville’s Kendall County Fairgrounds, Scout Flea Market has more of an event feel than many of Illinois other, more established fleas. With plenty of places to eat and drink, live music and activities for kids alongside vendor stalls, Scout Flea Market makes a great day trip out for the whole family.
Running four times a year, the market costs just $2 to enter and has handmade items and local produce as well as the more standard antiques, collectables and bric-a-brac stalls.
Scout Flea Market has become known as one of the best outdoor flea markets in America, receiving regular accolades in national magazines, including Flea Market Style Magazine.
9. Maxwell Street Market
One for the foodies, Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market has been combining local and international flavour with traditional flea market stalls for over 100 years.
The market, which features over a mile of vendors, entertainers and food stalls, has become known as one of the best places in the city to find authentic Mexican and Latin street food.
Visitors can pick up a bargain from the variety of stalls offering everything from clothing to toys, books, CDs and collectibles, or simply grab a bite to eat and soak up the carnival-style atmosphere at one Illinois most enjoyable fleas.
10. Haunted Halloween All Night Flea Market
Running once a year on Halloween, those looking for a truly unique flea market experience will find it at the Wheaton Haunted Halloween All Night Flea, held in the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
This special market runs from 3pm on October 26th, right through until 12am on the 27th, with vendors and visitors alike dressing up in scary costumes and selling themed items alongside their regular antiques, collectibles and clothing.
As well as spooks and stalls, visitors can also take part in the pumpkin carving contest, enjoy live music from local performers and bands or kick back with a drink at the beer garden.
11. Buyers Flea Market
After being badly damaged by a fire in the spring of last year, one of Chicagoland’s most loved fleas – Buyers Flea Market – is set to reopen this summer, with new and improved facilities and even more vendors.
The large indoor and covered-outdoor flea has been running for more than 30 years, having grown from just a handful of vendors when it first began in the early 1980’s. Once reopened, the Buyers Flea Market will see visitors browsing through everything from clothing to fresh produce, collectibles and rare finds, as well offering one of the best selections of flea market food – with authentic Mexican churros, tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more.
12. Gardner’s Corner Flea Market
For a real, country-flea experience, head to Gardner’s Corner Flea Market in Richmond. Running only during the summer months, this small but popular flea costs just $1 and features a host of vendors and stalls selling handmade wares, antiques, local food and plants.
The outdoor market is also well-known for its mulch services, providing high quality coloured and natural mulch for both individuals and contractors.
Expected to grow in size this year, in terms of both vendors and visitors, those looking to escape the city and find a unique bargain or gift will love Gardner’s Corner Flea Market.
13. Montana Charlie’s
Open every Sunday from June until the end of October, Montana Charlie’s flea market is located just off the I55 in Bolingbrook, making it an easy family day trip from the city.
The busy summer flea has one of the biggest selections of world food stalls, as well as a huge variety of unusual vendors and sellers.
Pick up a bargain at one of the clothing, electronics or homeware stalls, buy fresh fruit and veg and even book the kids in for a pony ride around the market. Those with green fingers will also love the wide selection of plant and gardening stalls.
14. Historic Route 66 Flea Market
Despite its name, the Historic Route 66 Flea Market is one of the newest flea markets in the state, but has grown quickly and now covers a large, 12,000sq.ft. area in Granite City, Illinois.
A flea market with heart, Historic Route 66 aims to help the local community and regularly hosts events to raise money for in-need charities and organisations. They also offer free booth sites for charitable organisations to set up and fundraise for themselves.
Along with dozens of vendors offering antiques, bric-a-brac and electricals, visitors can also stop in at Big H’s Route 66 Diner for something to eat or shop at one of the three wholesale store fronts located within the main building.
15. I-80 Flea Market
Celebrating 30 years of trade this year, the Sunday-only I-80 Flea Market in Tinley Park offers a wide selection of vendors selling collectibles, crafts, antiques, clothing, homeware, gardening tools and more.
With regular events scheduled for this anniversary year – including a bicycle show where visitors will be able to sell and trade bicycles, parts, memorabilia and more – this $1 entry, outdoor flea market is a great place to pick up a bargain, find a new hobby or enjoy some browsing.
Don’t forget to try out some of the I-80’s great selection of food too, with their indoor kitchen serving up breakfast, sandwiches and ice cream.