Who says the age of discovery is over? It’s certainly not in the Bay Area, where you can bring a whole world of new finds home with you, as long as you have a sense of adventure and an ample-sized tote. San Francisco is a great place to go antiquing and thrifting because of its noteworthy flea markets and hidden-gem antiques stores. We’ve narrowed down the list to the best here. Throw in a relaxed weekend stay and you have one amazing urban exploration.
Alameda Point Antiques Faire & Vintage Fashion Faire (Alameda/Oakland)
The Scoop: The grande dame of antiques fairs, Alameda Point is the largest in all of Northern California, boasting up to one million objects offered by more than 800 vendors. Held the first Sunday of the month, this is where to find vintage home décor, furniture, jewelry, art and pottery. If you’re into vintage fashion (swoon over the wardrobe in Boardwalk Empire?) then definitely check out the Vintage Fashion Faire held mid-month in an airplane hangar at the same East Bay Alameda Point location.
Pro Tip: Use the free shuttle that will pick you up at either the Fruitvale BART station or the Alameda Ferry.
Details: First Sunday of the month: 6am to 3pm. Cost: $5/$10/$15 (earlier hours cost more). No pets so leave Fido at home. More info at alamedapointantiquesfaire.com
Gypsy Honeymoon (Woodacre/Marin)
The Scoop: Wondering what’s on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge? Now you have another reason to explore Marin. That’s where you’ll find Gypsy Honeymoon, a wondrous, quirky vintage shop brimming with amazing collectibles where you are invited to “find what has disappeared.” Vintage black-and-white photos, out-of-print books, Art Nouveau furnishings and 19th-century jewelry are the types of discoveries you will encounter going down this enchanted rabbit hole.
Pro Tip: Get a sneak-peek of the one-of-a-kind treasures found here by following Gypsy Honeymoon’s curated Instagram feed at @gypsyhoneymoon
Details: Open Thursdays – Sundays, 11am to 6pm and by appointment. More info at gypsy-honeymoon.com
Treasure Island Flea Market (San Francisco)
The Scoop: If you’re feeling festive and want to experience a mash-up of a flea market and street fair, set sail for the Treasure Island “flea.” A relative newbie on the scene (the event began in 2011), Treasure Island upgrades the experience with 20-plus food trucks, a full bar pouring local wine, beer and spirits and live music and entertainment. As for the browsing, the event hosts more than 400 vendors with a strong showing of hand-thrown pottery, indie clothing designs, photography and other work by local artists, designers and crafters. Collectors can also find antiques and collectibles like Mid-century home décor and vintage comics.
Pro Tip: Come for the collectibles, but stay for the amazing blow-up-your-social-media views of San Francisco and Berkeley from the mid-bay location. And like much of the Bay Area, public transportation is your friend, in this case Muni #108 gets you there in 10 minutes from downtown SF.
Details: Last full weekend of the month; 10am to 4pm. Cost: $3. Pet friendly. More info at treasureislandflea.com
Alemany Flea Market (San Francisco)
The Scoop: While Alameda Point is about going big and an all-day affair, the Alemany Flea Market, held in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood every Sunday, is a smaller affair you can fit in between breakfast and lunch. Finds here are all over the map (and sometimes just plain random), and the flavor can be borderline garage sale. But people do come away with great finds, especially in the vintage vinyl records and antique housewares categories. If you’re not afraid of getting your hands a little dirty and doing some digging, this is for you, adventurer.
Pro Tip: Parking is limited to a small lot, so consider the Muni 24 bus or Uber. Also consider the best dealers here attend the Alameda Point show on the first Sunday, so schedule accordingly.
Details: Every Sunday: 7am to 3pm. Cost: Free. More info at fleamarketinsiders.com
Another great find? Kimpton’s California hotels, provide a haute home base and dazzling design inspiration for your forays throughout the area. Go to kimptonhotels.com
Happy treasure hunting!
Tell us: What are YOUR favorite places to shop for antiques and flea market finds in the Bay Area?
Treasure Island Flea Market photo via flickr / Tom Hilton