What to Read Next

Find Treasure at San Francisco's Treasure Island Flea Market

Laurie Jo Miller Farr
February 15, 2013
Find Treasure at San Francisco's Treasure Island Flea Market
Find Treasure at San Francisco's Treasure Island Flea Market

Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay has stunning, panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and all across the waters of the Bay. Getting there is easy, just 10 minutes over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from downtown San Francisco. Plan your visit for the last weekend of the month to enjoy the Treasure Island Flea, an outdoor market that moves indoors for inclement weather. Some people come to browse and find treasures; some people come for the fun atmosphere, food, and music; and the rest come for both. The views are a big bonus.

Curios and Collectibles

Co-founder Charlie Ansanelli Jr. says the market has expanded and grown really popular since the inaugural weekend in May 2011. Every month is a one-off, as the eclectic mix of vendors and goods varies with each show, so returning visitors always find something new. About 300 local vendors have colorful stalls featuring antiques, vintage goods, trinkets, ethnic accessories, indie items, handmade pieces, homemade soap, home decor, books, jewelry, old vinyl, bric-a-brac, and retro finds. On top of browsing, there are arts-and-crafts vendors conducting DIY workshops to share their skills and scavenger hunts for shopping-spree prizes.

Recent Finds

Recent visitors to Treasure Island Flea have scooped up: The Beatles' "Revolver" album, a vintage Leica camera, a San Francisco 49ers doggy jacket, 1950s wooden dominoes, vintage Ferragamo brogues, a driftwood sculpture, an old Red Flyer wagon, a manual typewriter, outdoor wind chimes, a set of painted wooden frames, a $5 fedora, old-time hula hoops, and an RCA Victrola. You never know, which is -- of course -- part of the fun in flea.

Start-Up Style

San Francisco means start-up culture, which is reflected at Treasure Island Flea. "It is very exciting to see the market grow as a place for startups to test out their products and innovative ideas," says co-founder Angie Ansanelli. Currently, Trumaker is showcasing a strategy for combining made-to-measure clothing with online ordering; Jones Vertical Farm introduces standing farms for the urban environment, giving city dwellers a way to grow fresh produce; and Korrupt Label is producing image-, patch-, and text-laden deconstructed T-shirts and hoodies made in West Oakland.

Music, Dogs, Food, Wine

The music is live, the venue is dog-friendly, the parking is available and free, and the restrooms are maintained all weekend and plentiful. Lunch break is a good time to relax on the grass to enjoy the skyline and bay views with delicious ethnic food from one of the half-dozen food trucks. Sam's Chowder and The Chairman, two of San Francisco's most popular, are among the mobile food trucks at the flea market. Try Vietnamese garlic noodles; lemongrass beef skewers; baked pork belly buns; sweet corn tortilla with black beans, jack cheese, fried bananas and pulled pork; and hot mini donuts freshly made to order before your eyes. Most of the selections are $3 to $7. The big barn is home to SF Winery, where visitors can enjoy tastings or order a beer or a glass of wine for $3.

Visitors and residents alike gather at Treasure Island Flea on the last Saturday and Sunday of each month. The gates are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., admission is $3 for adults, free for kids and dogs. Imagine being here as a front-row spectator during the 2013 America's Cup. Take note: It can be quite windy, even when the sun is shining.

Treasure Island itself was created as a man-made island attached to Yerba Buena Island under the Bay Bridge for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. The San Francisco Muni bus line 108 serves Treasure Island from the temporary Transbay Terminal downtown.