Can 8,000 bargain hunters be wrong? That’s the record number that recently attended one of the biggest open air markets in Southern California, which is located in the parking lots behind the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio. Operating in the same location since 1995 after relocating from the space now occupied by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, this twice-weekly event brings together some of the most eclectic vendors and shoppers in the Coachella Valley.
On market night, the intoxicating smell of freshly roasted peanuts hangs in the air. As the sun sinks low in the sky, merchants comes from near and far to set up their wares swap-meet style on tables, hang clothing on racks, and pile boxes of goods sky high.
Some purveyors come with a classic flea market mentality and sell used items, including antiques, furnishings, housewares, automotive parts, computers, appliances, clothes, and construction materials. But new stock definitely outpaces old. Aside from a great selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, tortillas, and snacks, discover an ample collection of novelties, toys, candy, kitchen and cleaning supplies, handmade goods, furniture, and clothing and shoes. It’s not hard to lose track of time as you peruse row after row of traders. If your appetite gets the better of you, indulge in the peanuts — roasted or boiled — to help get you through your shopping paces.
Indio Open Air Market is open year-round on Wednesday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. behind Riverside County Fairgrounds, 46350 Arabia Ave., Indio. 800-222-7467; www.maclinmarkets.com/indio.html