Usually, this little town of 5,000 is an ordinary community: a quiet cluster of boutiques, family restaurants and antique shops surrounding the Van Zandt County courthouse. But once a month, thousands swarm into town for First Monday Trade Days, the largest continually operating flea market in the country. It’s the reason you should visit Canton, if you haven’t already. But if you’ve lived in Texas longer than a year, you’ve probably already been inducted into the chaos of Canton’s Trade Days.
Trade Days occur on the Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of each month. If you like a good deal, this is the place for you, particularly if you don’t mind a bit of haggling. Trade Days boasts space for 6,000 vendors; more vendors than there are people who actually live in Canton. They spread out on the fairgrounds, which have been helpfully split into numbered regions. You can find everything you want and a few things you don’t; handmade homegoods from Paul Michael Company, vintage jewelry from the depths of Antique Alley, and tons of eclectic metal lawn art, wind chimes and patio furniture.
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Thursdays tend to be the least busy. Our best advice is to bring a cart so you don’t have to lug your purchases around in the Texas heat, and don’t venture down Dog Alley if you don’t actually want to leave with a dog.
If you get hungry, Canton has its Outback Steakhouse and Dairy Queen, but you may be happier either snacking on funnel cake, corn dogs and street tacos at the fairgrounds, or venturing to Buttermilk’s at the downtown square to indulge in all-you-can-eat catfish.
Canton is also home to Zip the USA, which has the longest ziplines in Texas, just in case a good deal on a lamp doesn’t get the blood pumping.
- Drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Population: 5,100
- Best time to go: First Monday Trade Days
- Must see: The Arbors
- Be sure to pack: Haggling for Dummies
- Avg. cost per night: $100