The Best Flea Markets and Thrift Stores in San Diego

You’ll find all sorts of treasures at the flea markets and thrift stores in San Diego
You’ll find all sorts of treasures at the flea markets and thrift stores in San Diego | © keeya / Getty Images
Doug ONeill

Thrift stores in San Diego offer an experience similar to the bazaars in Turkey or the centuries-old medinas in Morocco. The best flea markets and thrift stores in San Diego, California, are where you’ll find everything from worn-in clothes to well-loved furniture, barter for anything from a T-shirt to a teacup, and encounter people from all walks of life whose lives intersect among the counters of collectables, craft items and clothes.

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Kobey’s Swap Meet

At Kobey’s Swap Meet, one of the largest flea markets in San Diego, you’ll find everything from vintage jeans and jewelry to electronics and small pieces of furniture. It takes place in a giant parking lot-turned-outdoor marketplace at the Pechanga Arena San Diego and has been run by the same local family for more than 25 years. Food trucks and DJs are usually in residence, and night markets also take place in summer. There’s space for up to 1,000 stalls, so bring your best shopping stamina.

San Diego Vintage Flea Market

You won’t find last season’s cast-offs at the monthly San Diego Vintage Flea Market. Here, vendors take the vintage philosophy seriously. What you’ll find are mid-century housewares, quirky curios and eclectic clothes from the early 1900s through to the 1980s. Come ready to sift through all the items, and expect to mingle with a cucumber-cool crowd under the warm San Diego sun.

Honest Thrift Studio

Honest Thrift Studio, one of the most popular thrift stores in San Diego, is a short walk from Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. On the rails, you’ll find boutique-worthy items from the owner’s carefully curated collection of stylish clothes, housewares, jewelry, accessories and refurbished furniture – all at thrift-store prices. Owner Jess also runs Garden Coffee next door, with killer cookies and caffeine in case you need a pick-me-up to complete your treasure hunt.

Spring Valley Swap Meet

Spring Valley Swap Meet, which started in 1970, is what’s popularly known as a whopper – stuffed to the brim with everything from soccer gear to pots and pans, clothes, kitchenware, incense, aromatherapy oils, toys, fabrics and candies (in case the kids are getting restless). It takes place on Saturdays and Sundays on Quarry Road, to the east of downtown, and there are food stands available to keep everyone in the family pepped up.

South Bay Drive-In and Swap Meet

By night, the South Bay Drive-In is indeed a drive-in theater. But on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, it takes on a different role as a bustling flea market in San Diego. It starts at 6am and closes after lunch, so early birds get the worm at this market with 300-plus vendors. You’ll find everything from clothes and cookware to accessories and electronics – and that’s all part of the fun.

Out of the Closet – San Diego

Only a couple of blocks from the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park – two must-visit attractions in the cityOut of the Closet is one of the longest-running thrift stores in San Diego. Launched by the LGBTQ community to raise funds for Aids healthcare causes, there are now numerous locations throughout the United States. The staff has a reputation for curating stylish and eclectic clothes, furniture, accessories, vintage designs, sequins, shoes and everything else you’d expect in one of the original downtown San Diego thrift stores.

Rock Thrift Store

It’s worth checking out in advance what’s on the program at Rock Thrift Store. For instance, your time in San Diego might coincide with the 30-40 percent off discounts on Miracle Mondays, or Friday FUNday when there’s up to 50 percent off clothes with green tags. Make sure you leave room in your luggage for clothes, shoes, jackets, curios and cocktail dresses. Much of its stock is sold on consignment and is in mint condition.

Humble Heart Thrift Store

Humble Heart Thrift Store opened in downtown San Diego in 2010 and is now part of a chain of family-owned thrift shops. Expect to lose yourself in the massive piles of books, toys, antique furniture, clothes, shoes, collectables, retro accessories and home decor items. The thrift store also provides on-the-job training for individuals trying to enhance their employment skills. Sign up for the newsletter to get the lowdown on special sales and discounts.

Need somewhere to stay during your shopping spree? Read our guide to the best hotels in San Diego, or treat yourself after all that thrifting with a stay at a luxury hotel – bookable on Culture Trip. Traveling with your four-legged friend? Check into one of the best pet-friendly hotels in San Diego.

This is an updated article originally written by Juliet Bennett Rylah.

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