There are thousands of regularly held flea markets spread out across the U.S., and the borough of Queens in New York City has some good ones worth checking out. The tradition of American flea markets has historically put forth eclectic pop-up marketplaces where shoppers might turn up military surplus, old porcelain figurines, collectible hubcaps, or anything in between. The kind of place where you can buy a funnel cake and other fair-style fare as you wander between vendor stands hawking their unique wares.
The modern flea market, particularly in its urban incarnation, has evolved to include those staples of yore and so much more. Whether you're looking for artisanal crafts, tasty bites, or quality antiques, there’s a flea market to suit your needs. So get ready to sift through trash for treasure, while turning up lively and colorful community scenes, at these four best flea markets in Queens.
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L.I.C. Flea & Food
This popular seasonal flea market in Long Island City eschews old magazines and mass-produced plastic junk in favor of gourmet food offerings and artisanal crafts. L.I.C. Flea is primarily a food market, and the eating options are international, eclectic, and downright delicious. Past and current vendors have exposed many thousands of happy customers to secret family recipes, from traditional dishes to experimental creations. Reinvented Berlin street food, bundt cakes, Filipino flavors, Japanese vegetable pancakes, BBQ... the list of gastronomic delights is long and growing. If you’re looking to wash down all of that tasty food with a cold brew, you’re in luck: The microbrewery scene is thriving in Queens, with an explosion of new breweries (like Rockaway Brewing Company, SingleCut Beersmiths, and L.I.C. Beer Project) in recent years, of which several are represented at the flea’s beer garden.
Beyond food and drink, you'll find “makers” of jewelry, furniture, and more. One mainstay... and favorite for Queens locals is Dutch Kills Klotheing: run by Queens resident Eva Weiss, they sell screen-printed T-shirts made of ultra-soft materials that celebrate Queens pride and the little-known Queens’ neighborhood of Dutch Kills. The T-shirt designs are both vintage and contemporary, and present a perfect memento of your outing to L.I.C Flea, whether you hail from the borough or not.
The flea is adjacent to a waterfront park, Gantry Plaza State Park, which offers spectacular views of midtown Manhattan. With live (and lively!) music, delicious food, and cold beer, this is one flea market you won’t want to flee from.
When: Saturdays & Sundays, 11am–6pm (rain or shine); April through October
Where: 5-25 46th Ave., Long Island City. By subway, take the 7 train to Vernon Blvd.–Jackson Ave.; G train to 21st St.–Van Alst; or the E/M to Court Sq.–23rd St.
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Queens International Night Market
Like L.I.C. Flea, the outdoor Queens International Night Market is primarily a food market, celebrating the diversity of Queens on a large scale... and a large plate. The culinary offerings are carefully curated and truly impressive by any foodie's standards. With Queens being the most ethnically diverse place on earth, the cuisine – be it Malaysian, Ukrainian, Burmese, Antiguan, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and on and on – will take your taste buds on a culinary journey that should require a passport. You’ll find anything from fried ice cream to empanadas, from Valencian paella to Taiwanese "wheel cakes."
There is also a beer and wine section, as well as live music and performances, which can vary from blues bands to Bollywood dance troupes. That the market occurs at night only adds to the festive experience. Music, laughter, and enticing aromas waft through the evening air in this uniquely Queens environment, set within the parking lot of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing... Meadows Corona Park.
But there’s more to this market still: Handcrafted soaps and candles, artwork, cleverly designed clothing, and Queens-themed merchandise are just some of the non-food offerings. You’ll likely take home not just a full belly, but an artisanal gift and perhaps a cool T-shirt, as well. The night market continues to grow in popularity every year and it’s little surprise why.
When: Saturdays, 6pm–midnight (rain or shine); through August 19, 2017 and from September 30–October 28, 2017
Where: In the parking lot behind the New York Hall of Science (at 111th St. & 45th Ave.) in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. By subway, take the 7 train to 111th St.
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Held in a historic German beer hall in the Ridgewood neighborhood, the Ridgewood Market is a fantastic opportunity to score distinctive crafts, handmade and locally sourced products, and vintage gifts. A monthly event (excluding the months of January, February, July, and August), the Ridgewood Market was created by jewelry-maker Sarah Feldman as an alternative to fleas that sell mass-produced items. Instead, the market was designed with a priority placed on human interaction and community-building.
Hundreds of vendors have participated in the market since its inception, and whether they sell embroidery, hand-knit sweaters, terrariums, or anything else, these are not items pasted together in a soulless factory; the products for sale are created with passion and care. The response to the market has been tremendous, with many people saying it’s one of the very best markets in the city, devoid of too much tourist flock but filled with just enough excitement and synergy.
Adding to the... experience is the location: the ballroom of Gottscheer Hall, which has been serving the community since the 1920s.
When: One Saturday per month, 5pm–11pm (excluding January, February, July, and August)
Where: Gottscheer Hall, 657 Fairvew Ave., Ridgewood. By subway, take the L train to Myrtle-Wyckoff Ave.
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If artisanal crafts and live music are not what you’re after, and you're instead in search of tables filled with collectibles, soap, hair-care products, and copious bottles of perfume: don't despair. In the Queens neighborhood of Richmond Hill, there is a weekly indoor flea market that can deliver just that and more. This Sunday year-round market offers many bargains for regular customers looking to fill their pantries and medicine cabinets.
There are hundreds of items to choose from and the variety changes from week to week with a rotating cast of vendors and products. Whether it be clothing, bedding, jewelry, kitchenware, makeup, or nail care, chances are you’ll find something worth picking up. Depending on the week, the market also offers treasures for all manner of collectors – like comic books, baseball cards, rare coins, minerals, and crystals.
The Richmond Hill Flea Market may not have the same festive outdoor vibe of the L.I.C. Flea, since it’s more focused on selling... than creating an experiential environment, but it has its own special energy. Join up with the busy weekend shoppers here who are excited to re-stock their homes with essentials and maybe pick up a little something extra — a toy, a game, a charming necklace — to put a smile on someone’s face.
When: Sundays, 8am–3pm; year-round
Where: 117-09 Hillside Ave., Richmond Hill. By subway, take the J train to 121st St.–Jamaica Ave.