Swap Shop and Thunderbird Drive-In Theater – Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Atlas Obscura

Swap Shop and Thunderbird Drive-In Theater

This liminal destination combines creaky carnival rides, a classic car museum, and luck-of-the-draw flea market finds surrounded by dust and drive-in movie screens.  

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Explore a South Florida 1960s relic that’s as in flux as the beachfront tides themselves. Every day at the Swap Shop is something new, with kitschy interiors and mysterious vendors that are always changing.

Swap Shop is the perfect combination of mass-produced discount grime, liminal spaces, garage sales, and a perpetually creaky carnival. From ever-churning children’s rides to DIY robot statues, old movie promotional items, grillz makers, indoor go-karts, arcade machines, and flower shops, Swap Shop has it all. You can visit just to take in the nonsensical decorations or to try your luck shopping.

If it exists, it exists at the Swap Shop in its most discounted, off-brand form. You can buy adult DVDs from a white windowless van and pick up themed tourist mugs just a few footsteps away.

On weekends, visitors are treated to paid parking across the street with a bright yellow pedestrian bridge to safely usher them into the world of dust, rust, and mystery. The bridge has its own strange statues that help set the tone. Weekdays are calmer, allowing visitors to park closer to the building.

Discounted flea market finds await at every corner. And for the empty stalls, relics of old movie promotional posters, dusty homemade decorations, and strange dioramas keep things entertaining. There are two floors of indoor booths plus semi-permanent outdoor container booths and an ever-changing lineup of cars selling their wares in the drive-in theater’s wavy parking lot.

Speaking of cars, the building also seems to inexplicably host a collection of flashy collectible cars—though it has dwindled in size in recent years.

Added bonus: Steve-O used to be a clown here before the TV show Jackass made it big.

Know Before You Go

As with any flea market, it’s always best to bring cash. The Swap Shop is open 365 days a year and weekends are its busiest days. 

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