Thursday, November 3, 2011

Florida Flea Markets

Florida Flea Markets make an interesting side trip when vacationing in the Orange Juice State. Because so many folks retire to the state and bring their posessions with them you may find anything from anywhere in a Florida bazaar. Of course, there will be the usual assortment of tools and household goods available in any of the flea markets near your home.  Also there will be some items common to the region. Fresh seafood, recreational vehicle parts and an over abundance of sunglasses are only some of the items peculiar to the area and common in these marketplaces.

Many of the markets in Florida are huge.  The Wagon Wheel in Pinellas Park near Tampa and Clearwater claims to have over two thousand venders. The Saturday I was there they had a live band and a couple of solo performers in different parts of the market. Look for the boxes with the Wagan Wheel Directory. The paper will save you time if you are looking for a particular item.  Parking is $1.00.  Hours are 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Saturday and Sunday.  Rain or Shine.

The International Market World Flea Market on Highway 92 in Auburndale is another giant bazaar. Open Friday thru Sunday, the market boasts over 1200 vendors. Live music and a circus. Some of the specialty shops I saw when I strolled though early one Sunday morning include boots, pet supplies, golf, RV parts, knives and outdoor gear.

I like smaller markets.  My favorite during my visit was the 66th Street Flea Market in Pineallas Park. I found an old tea pot in Dog Tag Heros, a Veterans benefit store in the market. The market has lots of old stuff as well as new stuff.  It is in a great location with other thrift stores near by. Twice a month there are also auctions.

How to find Florida Flea Markets is easy.  Yes, Google for them in the area you are traveling to. Use the search term "flea market in" plus the town you are traveling to. There are other ways to locate a good market in the Sunshine State.  Here are some ideas.

First, when you cross into the state stop at the visititor center and while you are about stretching your legs and drinking the free orange or grapefruit juice look over the brochures. I found several for the area I was traveling through.  Some with coupons.

Next, take one of the older highways. I traveled the Suncoast Highway (Hwy 19) and Highway 27 and 92 on my recent trip. I found interesting antique shops and small markets along the way. I would not have encountered any of them if I had stayed on I-75 and I-4 for the whole trip. So if you don't have a need for speed get off the interstate and explore. It may add a little time to the trip but you will be more relaxed and have a lot more fun.

Lastly. Ask folks about "interesting" or "the best flea markets" for the towns you are traveling to and through.  Folks love to talk about their finds.

Visiting a Florida flea market will add another dimension to your trip.  You will find local art and food.  If you have forgotten something it is likely you can pick it up there. Some, especially near the coast where land is more expensive, charge a nominal parking fee. Usually a dollar.  Don't let it deter you. You will find some great deals.

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