X marks the spot at the Randolph Street Market – the largest urban antique market in the country, where the whole family can go on a treasure hunt. Whether your idea of a treasure is a one-of-a-kind antique, a classic record, a sweet treat or a fun way to pass an afternoon, the Randolph Street Market provides all of the above and more. Read on to learn about the many offerings of the Market and start to plan your family adventure today!

Who would enjoy this treasure hunt?
The Randolph Street Market offers something for everyone, young and old. In addition to booths filled with antiques and indie crafts, there’s food, music and activities to keep guests busy.  The Market is even stroller friendly, but all the goodies make for some tight aisles so you might choose to leave the double-wide at home. Adults pay $10 at the gate to enter, less if tickets are purchased in advance.  Kids under 12 are free and student discounts are available, too.  If you’re bringing the whole crew, be sure to check out the family packages.

What can we do on this journey?
As you enter through the front gate, kids can pick up a treasure map and activity sheet.  With over 8 acres and 250 vendors, there’s plenty to browse through at Randolph Street Market and much treasure to be found.  It’s bigger than any store in Chicago! The lively atmosphere makes it fun for even the hardest to please shoppers.  Look through the stalls and find plenty of things to teach your kids . . . maybe you’ll see a camera that takes film or a set of Encyclopedias (the original Google).  After browsing and finishing the scavenger hunt, kids can turn it in at the Washington Street Gate to pick a prize from the treasure chest and receive a goody bag with bubbles, crayons and more.

Wander through the stalls and you’ll eventually stumble into the children’s area in Plumbers Hall.  Kids won’t want to leave until they’ve visited the balloon artist and face painting booths.

All of this treasure hunting will leave your stomach grumbling, so be sure to check out the Market Bar which offers goodies for breakfast and lunch in addition to boozy beverages for grown-ups.  Treat yourself to the Bloody Mary Bar for a drink and snack in one.  The Market is a great chance to try trendy food vendors, too.  Dinky Donuts, Taco-in-a-Bag and Dia de los Tamales have made recent appearances at Randolph Street Market. If you’ve got picky eaters, check out the website for an up-to-date vendor list prior to each event.

Where can I begin this adventure? 
All of these activities can be found in Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall at 1340 West Washington Street in Chicago.  There’s even more fun to be had May through September when an outdoor section is added to the market.  Don’t worry if you miss it though, the air conditioned and heated Plumbers Hall offers plenty of options year round.

When can I set sail?
If your boots are laced and your telescope is ready for this treasure hunt, you’ll be happy to know that the market happens one weekend a month and twice in November and is open from 10am-5pm. The upcoming Garden Party Market on May 28 and 29 is the largest market of the year.

How did this all begin?
In 2003, planner extraordinaire Sally Schwartz was busy raising her 6 year-old daughter and establishing the Chicago Antique Market.  Sally’s expertise in marketing, planning and mothering has helped make the event a fun experience for all. Since then, the Chicago Antique Market has expanded to become the Randolph Street Market and now attracts over 70,000 treasure hunters a year.

2016 Market Dates
May 28-29
June 25-26
July 30-31
August 27-28
September 24-25
October 29-30
November 19-20
November 26-27
December 10-11

Special One-Time Activity for Kids
Plan to be at the Market May 29 (noon-3 p.m.) when The Kids’ Table will be making a special appearance. They’ll be hosting a complimentary recipe making activity for kids in the East lot by the Shade Shack/kids activity area. Taking groups of 6 at a time, they’ll instruct kids on how to put together a quick recipe they can eat immediately. Their focus will be on teaching kids that healthy can be delicious!

Randolph Street Market
Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall
1340 W. Washington St.
West Loop
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $10/adult at the gate; $8/adult in advance; free for ages 12 & under
Online at: Randolphstreetmarket.com

What treasures have you found while exploring Randolph Street Market?  Share your experiences in the Comments below.

— Lisa Snart

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