Guide to Canton TX: Visiting Texas’ Flea Market Capital

Imagine an evergreen city – a place that is perfect throughout the seasons. Wednesdays? No problem. There is something different to do here every night for a year or 100 more. For me, New York crosses my mind – once, twice, maybe thrice. Now, imagine a city that you have to go to on a specific day of a specific month because thats when it blossoms and is ripest. Canton, TX is the best example.

pocket guide canton tx storefront

The Market

You see, the first weekend prior to the first Monday of the month, Canton, a small town with a population just over 3500, is host to the oldest and largest flea market in the United States. It arrives without warning. There are no signs or announcements. The flea market is simply there, when yesterday it was not. It pops up just like the Night Circus.

Do you remember the saying “everything’s bigger in Texas”? Keep that in mind as I take you on the grand tour. We’ll arrive at sunrise and keep walking alongside Canton locals till sundown (and we still won’t have covered the whole market). 

We walk through an array of white-topped tents. There is no cohesiveness in the items sold: we see antiquated typewriters stacked haphazardly on one side and wire-based outdoor garden sculptures on the other. Romantic Western novels prop up on every third table or-so. There is a complete disorder and a haywire strew of objects, but that is the beauty of this flea market. It forces us to pick through each and every item.

pocket guide canton tx entrance

We stroll through the outdoor space for a few hours and eventually find our way to one of the three Arbors, expansive indoor stops crawling with vendors. Here, we find custom crafts, oil paintings, journals, hand-stitched pillows – everything and anything. Some of the vendors tip their hats and shout “Howdy” as we walk by (they are so sweetly Texan). The exposed roofing and wooden frame of the Arbors moderates the heat, making this a welcome (and more crowded, if at all possible – maybe, we should have come on Thursday) respite.  

Where to Eat?

Eventually, we have to stop for breakfast. The restaurants here, in the Third Arbor, sport rustic names like Chuck Wagon Chili and Double Bubbas. My personal favourite is Joe Mama’s, a small eatery with green paneled wood and playful pink highlights. I order some biscuits and gravy for myself and strawberry waffles for you.

pocket guide canton tx food

Both arrive in closed plastic containers that we take back to a bench. The biscuits are soft and heavily-buttered. The gravy is thick in cream and well-peppered. You take a bite of your waffle. How is it? The whipped cream seems minimal as only a mildly generous layer skirts just the outside of the syrup-dosed treat. It’s sweet and feels more like dessert than breakfast, but you love it, regardless.

Slightly reenergized, we continue walking around the back paths. We wind our way around furniture and more baubles. We climb into a second series of interior shops that stretch a road. Each is coloured in light pastels. We enter the shops and inspect the items. Outdoors, there are several small carts selling corn dogs and funnel cakes. As it begins to near the afternoon, the crowds raise to extreme. There are locals and outsiders rounding every corner.

pocket guide canton tx plaza

As we keep walking, we start to see specialty stands: The Book Lady and Dupaco Paints. We walk through the rows and keep circling for hours, poring through the knick knacks, until we reach the entrance once again.

What Else to See?

If we left a little earlier, we could have visited some of the small local museums that abound in Canton. The Canton Plaza Museum is a great free pre-first market stop because has holsters facts that draw the town’s history and traditions into perspective. But today has already been quite the experience (whew!) and I’m ready to get back into the car and hit our next road trip stop.

Have you ever been to a flea market? Have you ever been to the Canton Flea Market? Let me know in the comments below! As always, I love to hear from you. 

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  • Reply
    Krysti Jaims
    September 13, 2016 at 1:50 AM

    Great info and love the photos! Thanks for sharing x

  • Reply
    Katrina Leoni
    September 13, 2016 at 10:46 AM

    It looks like a theme park! And so weird that I have just started reading the Night Circus 🙂

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:54 AM

      Ooohhh! I love the book. It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Christine Krzyszton
    September 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM

    Would never have put this city on my travel list. I love that you found out about the flea market and built a great travel story around it. This sure seems like a place that would be a lot of fun but I might need a shipping crate for all the great finds. Nice post and I enjoyed reading it.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:54 AM

      Thanks Christine! I was searching for things to do closer to DFW and this turned out to be a great find! You’re right…I was so tempted to buy everything, especially the books. A crate sounds like a great idea 😉 xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Fashionable Tigress
    September 13, 2016 at 11:46 AM

    I’ve never been to Canton but I’ve been trying to find places to visit that are closer to home. I pinned this so I can find it later 🙂

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:51 AM

      Thank you! I hope you get to visit! xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Naomi │Roaming the Americas
    September 13, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    This is so fascinating, how it just pops up without warning! Sounds like an interesting way to spend a day.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:51 AM

      Oh yes! The market space is pretty much empty and then seemingly overnight it churns into a bustling wonder 🙂 xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Paige Strand
    September 13, 2016 at 3:59 PM

    I’ve heard great things about the food down there!

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:50 AM

      The food is awesome. Gotta love deep fried and Southern – though those might be one and the same 😉 xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    Visions of Vogue
    September 14, 2016 at 11:22 PM

    It’s so gorgeous!

    Jenna from

  • Reply
    September 15, 2016 at 2:44 AM

    I have been in Texas for going on six years and have never heard of Canton! Thanks so much for sharing this gem. I bet the market is going to be magical during holiday season when more lights are up!

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 2:49 AM

      Oh yes! It is really close to Dallas (a little less than 40 minutes away)! xx – Anshula

  • Reply
    September 19, 2016 at 4:12 AM

    Looks like such a fantastic trip!! Love all the photos of the market!

    -Clarissa @ The View From Here

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