Best Of 2005

Best Flea Market: Riverbend Flea Market

Like any standout bazaar, the Riverbend Flea Market in Alton proffers a hodgepodge of the predictable -- cheesy cell-phone skins, T-shirts you wouldn't be caught dead cleaning your bathroom in, woefully faux designer handbags -- and the unexpected. That batch of goodies includes fireplugs-cum-lawn ornaments, martini glasses hand-blown in Romania and a whole caboodle of Japanese anime. Sure, it's not situated in Alton's riverside Old Town. But given the weekend-only hours (that's 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), you can make a long morning of it getting out here, stopping for some homemade barbecue or $12 sneakers at roadside stands along the way and moseying through Antique Row when you're done at the flea market. Be sure not to miss Riverbend's knives-'n'-samurais stand, whose proprietor -- that's him in the "Jesus Coming Soon" cap -- might interest you in a stun gun.

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