Whether singing carpool karaoke with girlfriends or enduring a zillion Are we there yet?s with the family, road trips are what make vacation memories. And since we’re pretty sure Texans are required to take at least one road trip within their Lone Star State each year, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Traipsing through miles of antiques may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but here are three outstanding Texas markets that just might inspire wanderlust and spark interest. Pack your bags and bring your wagon.
First Monday Trade Days
While the first of the month means different things to different people, for residents of Canton, it means more than 200,000 people from around the world descend on their small town. Located about an hour east of Dallas, Canton is home to the largest and oldest continually operating flea market in the United States: First Monday Trade Days.
On the Thursday before the first Monday of each month, people flock to Canton in search of antiques, collectables, vintage items, furniture and jewelry. More than six thousand vendors from around the world participate in the market. Either they sell goods and services out of pop-up tents set up on the original First Monday grounds, or they welcome you to their brick-and-mortar establishment close by. With free admission and multiple parking options available for $5-10, First Monday Trade Days has something for everyone.
Although the market technically ends before Monday, the four-day event still allows patrons to enjoy dawn-to-dusk shopping. Don’t miss the Spring market March 28-31. Plan to arrive as close to the morning as possible, as springtime Trade Days’ crowd increases to more than 500,000 attendees. Not only will you find a gem of a parking space, you’ll be there for first dibs on your finds.
Family Feature: Multiple vendors will be selling food and beverages on premises, but a visit to Canton is not complete without a trip to The Dairy Palace, just off I-20 at 2301 N. Trade Days Blvd. If the 24/7 ice cream availability doesn’t sell you, how about the local connection? The Dairy Palace serves ice cream from Plano’s own Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, as well as Bluebell.First Monday Trade Days >
Fredericksburg Trade Days
Beer and wine, antiques and art – Fredericksburg features some of the best our state has to offer. Surrounding farms, wineries and biergartens throw celebrations for just about every calendar occasion. Think of Fredericksburg Trade Days as a festival of shopping that includes eating and drinking, and listening to live music.
Located about 10 minutes east of town, the Sunday Farms venue hosts the Trade Days. More than 350 vendors sell wares and offer services out of barns, sheds and tents all located on farm property. While some have permanent storefronts in and around nearby towns, other vendors come to the farm from all over the state to set up temporary shops. This flea market appeals to all ages, all genders and all pocketbooks.
Fredericksburg Trade Days take place on the weekend of the third Saturday each month. No need for long division – we’ll do the math: Upcoming markets are March 15-17 and April 19-21. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, vendors will peddle goods ranging from one-of-a-kind antiques and collectables to crafts and wearables.
Family Feature: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is 20 minutes north of Fredericksburg. With a variety of camping and outdoor activity options, this park offers many ways to sneak in some serious family bonding. Or, tell your husband and kids to literally “take a hike” and shop solo without interruption.Fredericksburg Trade Days >
Round Top Antiques Show
For a more grown-up approach to market-ing, mark the calendar for Thursday, March 21, opening day of the annual Spring Round Top Antiques Show in Round Top, Texas. This enormous collaboration of pop-up vendors, brick and mortar shops, and open-year-round farms and barns spans almost 20 miles along Texas State Highway 237, and lasts nearly three weeks – the show runs through Sunday, April 7.
According to seasoned Round Top attendees, while vendors and sellers offer a variety of goods, most merchandise is considered to be higher-end compared to what is sold at other flea markets. And as the name suggests, this event focuses on antiques.
Admission to each location varies, as do shopping hours. However, attendees can usually shop ‘til they drop, from dawn ‘til dusk. In addition, many vendors offer shipment options. If treasures fit in a vehicle (no, you can’t leave a friend behind to make room), individuals are available to help transport finds to a buyer’s car.
Most locations offer free parking on premises, but plan accordingly. Online guides can help to make a plan of attack streamlined. We liked this one on the city’s Chamber of Commerce website. While it is not necessary to have in mind exact items you are looking for, it is smart to plan each day around locations in close proximity to one another.
Family Feature: While Round Top is not intentionally tailored to adults, junior will most likely be bored. After all, what kiddo likes shopping for furniture they can’t even climb on? For their sake and your sanity, Round Top is a trip best spent with girlfriends.Round Top Antique Shows >
Advice from market pros:Cash: If wanting to haggle prices, bring cash. Vendors pay fees for accepting credit cards and often pass that cost to the consumer. For those with cash, oftentimes a better deal can be negotiated.
H2O: Most vendors and shops allow outside food and beverages. Adjust your BYOB options accordingly to make room for water in your cooler. Hydration before libations, people.
Layers: Dress in layers for spring’s unpredictable temperatures. No need to don the heaviest winter coat, but bringing a sweater or two is practical, especially with our state’s proclivity for cycling through multiple seasons in one day.
Sun Protection: Sunscreen is everyone’s friend, as the majority of time is spent outdoors. A hat isn’t a bad idea, either.
Footwear: Speaking of fashion, flip-flops are a faux pas, so wear good walking shoes. Keep in mind you will be covering a lot of ground, and this is not the time to break in that cute new pair of sandals.
Cart: Most importantly, don’t forget a wagon or some other type of rolling shopping cart. It’s the best way to collect flea market treasures and limit trips back to the car.