(credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Kane County Flea Market
525 S. Randall Rd.,
St. Charles, Ill.
First Sunday of the month and the Saturday that precedes it
Sat. 12 p.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
$5 each day; children under 12 free.
Parking is free
(630) 377-2252
www.kanecountyfleamarket.com

Less than an hour outside of Chicago, the far west suburb of St. Charles, Illinois is home to the Kane County Fairgrounds, site of the Kane County Flea Market – a paradise for bargain and collectible hunters and a great outdoor activity. Take a ride out to this charming river town and spend an afternoon sifting through unique home décor, jewelry, antiques and more.

(credit: Kane County Flea Market's Facebook)

Flea Shop ‘Til You Drop

I love a good bargain – who doesn’t? Better yet, I love to think outside of the big box stores, to search out unique home goods. I’m an avid watcher of Antique Roadshow on PBS, and I’m always hoping I’ll come across a bargain bin find that will turn out to be worth more than I could imagine. If you enjoy talking to sellers, if you are good at striking up deals, if you like to gather décor ideas and sift through antiques, collectibles and brand new items you won’t find anywhere else, the Kane County Flea Market is your shopping paradise.

Held the first Saturday and Sunday of each month, the market features more than 1,000 dealers of new and antique items. Visitors will find an interesting selection of vintage jewelry, home décor and furniture, yard ornaments and garden-ready plants and flowers, books and more. Kids will delight in the wide array of both new and old toys and board games and books, including Smurfs, vintage robots, comic books and Matchbox cars.

Are you a collector? This is the place to find vintage vinyl records, depression glass, 1940’s costume jewelry – you’ll find something to round out whatever you happen to be collecting, guaranteed.

Fairground Eats and Beyond

The Kane County Fairgrounds are known for their Fair Fare: think corn on the cob, ice cream, glazed nuts, hot dogs, and funnel cakes. Be sure to pack plenty of water or drinks for hot summer days. Looking for a more elegant but relaxed restaurant après-shopping? Head into downtown St. Charles and watch the world go by with a glass of red wine at Trattoria ZaZa (5 South 1st Street, St. Charles; Tel. (630) 443-9304; zazasitaliansteakhouse.com). This Italian style steakhouse not only serves juicy steaks but also fresh Italian fare: their individual 7-inch pizzas are savory, light and crispy.

Check Out Greater St. Charles

Make a weekend of the flea market and stay the night at the recently restored Hotel Baker (100 Main Street, St. Charles; Tel. (630)584-2100; hotelbaker.com), a charming, historic hotel built on the site of an old mill on the Fox River in downtown St. Charles. Be sure to dine overlooking the river at the hotel’s elegant eatery, the Roxy Grill, and check out the blooming rose garden.

(credit: Kane County Flea Market's Facebook)

Kane County Flea Market Top Five To-Do List

*Practice your bargaining skills. The best time to wheel and deal is on Sunday afternoon, just as the market is about to close: vendors aren’t keen to truck goods back to their starting place.

*Get some of your Christmas shopping out of the way: the Kane County Flea Market is where I go to find one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends.

*Indulge in some fare eats: the elephant ears are worth the calories!

*Have a drink along the Fox River at the Hotel Baker’s Roxy Grill in downtown St. Charles.

*Looking to burn off those elephant ears? Bring your bike and take a ride on the bicycle pathways along the Fox River.

Amy Bocchetta is a writer, a teacher, and a mom to two kids. She lives in the city and blogs at TiramisuMom.com.