Los Angeles: Shopping the Rose Bowl Flea

The Rose Bowl Flea in Pasadena, CA

One reason we were super thrilled to be traveling to L.A.—aside from the amazing wedding—was the timing of the trip.

Once we realized that our visit would coincide with the Rose Bowl Flea, which is held on the second Sunday each month, we opted for a red-eye flight back that evening to give us ample time to shop.

Vintage and antique home furniture for sale at the Rose Bowl Flea near Los Angeles in Pasadena, CA

Located on the grounds of the famed stadium in Pasadena, the Rose Bowl Flea has long been a haven for those looking for one-of-a-kind vintage treasures.

Everything from giant old city maps, antique mirrors, weathered globes, steamer trunks, industrial furniture, and every Louis imaginable—from XIII to Vuitton—can be found somewhere in the market.

A vendor at the rose bowl flea market in Pasadena, CA

We arrived early Sunday morning and immediately began scouring the rows of merchants, as we looked for something that would both look great in our apartment and fit in our duffles for the flight home.

To say I was shocked at both the overall size and selection of the flea was an understatement. I don’t think it is possible to visit every vendor there, much less browse all of them for the perfect item. Still, we stopped at most of the booths we thought had interesting stuff for sale and had a few great conversations with the knowledgable folks who run them, as well as a little customary haggling.

A vintage mirrored tray filled with retro chanel perfume bottles for sale at the rose bowl flea near Los Angeles, CA

We hardly had the time to venture into the clothing section, but it was just as packed with amazingly on-trend finds for guys and girls. Varsity jackets, L.L. Bean boots, Ivy League sweaters, leather jackets and backpacks were everywhere.

I tried looking for an old New York Giants zip-up jacket, and upon finding the exact style for just about every other team, I realized it was better to come with an idea of what you want rather than trying to be specific. The beauty of this place is getting inspiration from some place you might not have expected.

Trendy vintage and retro shoes for sale at the rose bowl flea market

To that end, the place is also crawling with designers looking for pieces to copy next season and movie crews looking for props to use in upcoming features.

These guys get there as early as the sellers themselves, typically to get the really outrageous stuff but there is still so much to find. So you might not get that old theater marquee that a new bar downtown is going to use for their sign, but you can get the row of theater seats that were once inside it.

Vintage button pins for sale at the Rose Bowl Flea in Pasadena, CA

We left the Rose Bowl with a few great old (but new to us) things.

Among them, a 2nd place trophy for a 1955 half-mile race—which is being used to store keys and other small pocket items in our apartment’s entryway, a mirrored tray for the bathroom to store small jars of perfume and soap, an empty bottle of dry gin from the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for said tray and, for $10, a pair of perfectly broken-in Sperry Top-Siders that look even better than my pair from J. Crew.

One piece of advice: wear sunscreen.

– Ryan

Vintage maps and furniture for sale at the Rose Bowl Flea in Pasadena, California

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