As COVID quarantines fade away and vaccination rates increase, the urge to travel or shop has surged. Combine both in one day and leave big-box stores behind for a day's adventure at a nearby flea market.
There's something to be said for finding eclectic one-of-a-kind treasures you didn't know you needed.
Some tips to remember before setting out on a day filled with treasure hunting: arrive early; dress casually and comfortably; wear walking shoes; bring cash; bring snacks and bottled water; and depending on your shopping goals, consider bringing along a rolling cart or wagon.
Most flea markets are spread out among several sprawling acres at fairgrounds or parking lots and you'll be glad you brought something to carry your items.
Here are five flea markets to visit within reach of the Quad Cities:
- St. Charles, Illinois
Kane County Flea Market, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, Ill. Open Saturday noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Located an hour west of Chicago, the Kane County Flea Market is a bargain hunter's dream. Spread out among several acres at the county fairgrounds, shoppers can choose from hundreds of vendors and find everything from vintage records, clothing, jewelry, and steamer trunks to old wooden bottle crates, antique wire egg baskets, farm-chic furniture, salvaged windows, doors and vintage planters.
- Rosemont, Illinois
Wolff's Flea Market, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont, Ill. Open Sundays April through October from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Located on the outskirts of Chicago in the Allstate Arena parking lot, this outdoor-only market rivals the Kane County market in size and number of vendors, but has more of a swap-meet feel. Shoppers have their choice of food trucks and fresh produce among vendors selling items such as plants, flowers, antiques, repurposed furniture, clothing, tools, electronics, video games, jewelry, books, artwork, knickknacks and according to Wolff's, "totally weird stuff."
- What Cheer, Iowa
What Cheer Flea Market, 13061 170th St., What Cheer, IA. The market is only open for three select weekends in 2021; April 30, May 1 and May 2; August 6, 7 and 8; and Oct. 1, 2 and 3. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located on the Keokuk County Fairgrounds, the What Cheer Flea Market is one of the largest flea markets in the state of Iowa. Massive in its size and number of vendors, shoppers will find antiques, collectibles, vintage decor, memorabilia, furniture and more.
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Rapids Flea Market, 171 Jacolyn Dr. NW, Cedar Rapids, IA. The market opens for the season Memorial Day weekend, May 29, 30 and 31; and is open the last Saturday and Sunday of each month through September from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Featuring more than 125 vendors, the indoor/outdoor market has more of a farmers' market feel with fresh produce, food trucks, handcrafted items, artwork, and plenty of sellers with vintage farm tools, furniture, folk art and other items.
- Dubuque, Iowa
Shaggy's Indoor Flea Market, 175 N. Crescent Ridge, Dubuque. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Shaggy's bills itself as "A modern twist to a traditional flea market." It features framed artwork, metal signs, folk art, campaign memorabilia, comic books, tins, depression glassware, vintage and estate jewelry, vintage board games, and many other items.