Orlando, St. Augustine and Charleston Offer Intriguing Options
Day trips are always a fun part of any vacation and Orlando, St. Augustine and Charleston offer three similar but unique versions for those who like to wander through flea markets or go antiquing. What a great way to find a memento that’s not sold in stores, and who knows what treasures might make themselves apparent? A great day antiquing can even unearth a highly collectible item that others have overlooked or passed by. Get a steal on it, and you’ve just added a bonus to a really special vacation.
Beautiful Charleston, South Carolina is heaven to history buffs. What better place to go antiquing than a city filled with homes dating to the 1700s? The city’s
King Street Antique District has a mind-boggling array of tantalizing antique shops. Of particular note are George C. Birlant & Company Antiques, Mary Helen McCoy Fine Antiques, John Gibson Company and Jacques’ Antiques. Shipping is, of course, available, so go prepared that you may well find a mesmerizing collectible you can’t refuse.
In the heart of the city lies the Old City Market, on Market Street Between Meeting and East Bay. This open-air market was built in 1841 to sell produce and meats. Today, it features small shops, restaurants and a flea market with everything from produce to antiques. The Old City Market is open 7 days a week. Follow your nose to find a hand-crafted sweetgrass flower or basket, woven by local artisans… a Charleston tradition with an olfactory bonus.
Just 15 miles from Charleston, is Coastal Carolina Flea Market. Billed as “the Lowcountry’s largest” with about 1,000 booths, this market is both inside and out, operates weekends all year round, and sits on 47 acres. Merchandise is both new and used, and there are two restaurants and an ice cream store on site. Located right next to the interstate, Coastal Carolina Flea Market is easy to find, and has been a South Carolina attraction since 1981.
Charleston Flea Market
Open Saturdays and Sundays, 8 AM – 5 PM
1907 Remount Road
Not far from downtown Orlando is the quaint Florida town of Mount Dora. Set amidst rolling hills and lakes, Mount Dora is known far and wide for her special events, and for Renninger’s Antiques Market and Farmers & Flea Market. This extraordinary destination, set on 117 acres, is open every Saturday and Sunday. Renninger’s antiques market is open both Saturdays and Sundays from 9 to 5, while the Farmers & Flea Market is a Saturday-only affair, from 8 until 4.
Mount Dora is just 45 minutes northwest of Orlando, so makes for an easy day-trip and offers a lovely change of terrain along the way. Renninger’s is the perfect motivation to stretch your vacation beyond the wonders of Orlando. The enclosed antiques market has over 180 shops, and over 40,000 square feet of space, filled with amazing collectibles and antiques. Unlike most other antiques markets, Renninger’s has its dealers on-site. When a person is ready to buy, or just curious for more information, the dealer’s in the booth to answer questions about each item. A charming surprise is “The Street of Shops,” a shaded collection of 20 additional dealer-staffed antique shops along a pedestrian-only thoroughfare.
Renninger’s classifies an antique as a 100 years and older, and a collectible as 50 years and older. Of course, they can’t guard that every item brought in meets their criteria, but visitors quickly notice the quality of the goods. Shoppers who visit Renninger’s antiques market will find burniture, collectibles, glass, china, Art Deco items, fishing paraphernalia, sterling silver, jewelry, art, pottery and several services. Shopper s will also find the largest collection of brass hardware in the southeast.
Another 200 or so shops comprise the Farmers and Flea Market, which features produce and food items such as honey. (Keep an eye out for rich, dark mangrove honey, which is produced in November and can be hard to find). Bluegreen vacationers who enjoy cooking will be particularly pleased with the abundance of fresh, local produce, perhaps enough to inspire a dinner comprised of regional specialties. If this sounds like you, it wouldn’t be wrong to throw a cooler in your car to keep your edible purchases cool on the drive home. If being around all that food might make a stomach growl, no worries: there are several venues selling snacks and light meals.
Renninger’s makes for an excellent day of treasure-hunting, and is frequented by locals as well as visitors. A staffer at the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce says “It’s a place where everybody goes.” And in fact, this particular central Florida destination market has been attracting crowds for 25 years. The family-owned-operation began in Pennsylvania, and the Mount Dora market was founded about 1984. It has been voted as one of the 10 best markets in America by Family Money magazine.
Three times a year, Renninger’s has giant antiques extravanganzas, which draw respected dealers from all over the country, so its name is synonymous with quality. These special events, which are open to the public, have ended for 2010 (they typically run November through February) but a full slate of Antique Fairs is on the calendar for the year: March 20, 21; April 17,18;
May 15, 16; June 19, 20; July 17, 18; August 21, 22; Sept 18, 19; Oct 16, 17; and December 18, 19. During antique fairs, additional dealers who are not normally present come in to offer their wares.
Anyone visiting Renninger’s will want some good walking shoes and a plan to reconnect with their group, should they decide to split up. This is a remarkable place to while away several pleasant hours.
Open Saturdays & Sundays 9-5
Farmers & Flea Market
Saturdays and Sundays 8-4
Beautiful St. Augustine, with its year-round sunshine, has a very popular flea market—St. Johns Flea Market. It was named for the broad river that defines the inland geography here, has hundreds of vendors and is easy to find. Open for shopping every Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm, this destination market draws legions of loyal fans who like to leisurely wander the aisles.
Shoppers visiting the St. Johns Flea Market will find everything from leather good s and pet accessories to jewelry and dolls. There are also some antiques for sale. Anglers will very likely find fishing gear. There’s plenty of parking, clean restrooms, free courtesy wheelchairs and strollers (a nice touch) and a warm welcome for dogs on a leash. Visitors don’t even have to trek to an ATM machine en route; there’s one on the property.
Vendors start setting up early, but some are late-comers. To assure you see everything possible, a visit after 10 am is advised, but early birds will not be disappointed. It’s possible to cover the market in two hours or less, and it lies just 20 minutes south from the resort. St. Johns Flea Market makes for a great half-day adventure. It can also be paired with a visit to historic downtown St. Augustine, which is just 5 miles farther.
If you find something special which would require shipping, there are businesses located near the resort which can ship a package home for you. So shop to your heart’s content.
St. Johns Flea Market
2493 State Road 207
St. Augustine, FL 32086