Farmer's Markets - Top 25 Picks
It’s prime time for the farmers market! Here’s our handy guide to the best markets that showcase locally-harvested regional foods.
Nothing beats a juice-splitting tomato still warmed by the sun or the joy in shaking the hand of the woman who grew it. Lucky for us, farmer’s markets are booming! This year, more than 5,000 cities and towns will come to life as fresh, area foods ripen for harvest. More than lush venues for local food, these places define a locale. They are crossroads, connecting city-dwellers to the farm, and cooks to the season.
Here’s our list of outstanding markets, selected for their fresh local fare and iconic regional vibe. The top 25, ones we consider the best of the best, are listed in alphabetical order. Most run May through October; some go year round and are noted as such.
Boulder County Farmer’s Market, Central Park, Boulder, CO.
Sat. 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Wed. 4:00 pm – 8:00.
The friendliest market in Colorado is also the biggest. Ringed by the Rockies, it bustles with live country music, cooking demos and garden lectures. Find organic peaches, cherries, apricots, herbs and herbal remedies, plus fabulous sourdough breads, artisan cheeses, and grass fed beef.
Capital City Farmers Market, Montpelier, VT
Sat. 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
This small intimate market of 40 vendors is meant to be savored. Find the best farmstead goat cheese, goat burgers and gorgeous handspun yarn along with lovely vegetables and the tiniest, sweetest strawberries ever.
The City Market, 20 E. 5th St., Kansas City, MO
Sat. 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.
One of the country’s oldest markets has been joining local growers to city dwellers for over 150 years. Don’t miss Italian specialties like handmade pasta and fresh tomato sauces.
City Farmer’s Market Wooster Square, Russo Park, New Haven, CT
Sat. 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Vendors include students from the Yalea college Sustainable Food Project, selling produce they’ve grown themselves at the Yale Farm. Look for oysters, clams, lobsters from Long Island Sound and try Trinity Dairy Farm’ssome organic chocolate milk.
Coconut Grove Organic Farmers Market, 3300 Grand Ave., Miami, FL
10:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Find a paradise of avocados (8 different kinds), tomatoes, papaya, pineapple and organic dried fruit and nuts, plus a raw-food bar, 40 different kinds of juice, and creamy fresh nut milks.
Crescent City Farmers Market, French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
Sat. 8:00 am – 12:00.
Go for the shrimp and fish, the beautiful fruits and vegetables, the amazing array of flowers, the beignets and coffee, the fabulous live jazz, the funky costumes and street performers.
Dane County Farmers Market
Capitol Square, Madison, WI
Sat. 6:00 am – 2:00 pm, Wed. 8:30 am – 2:00 pm.
Circling the pristine Capitol Building in the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, this market is smack in the middle of our country’s richest agricultural region. It’s an all-out community affair where local heritage plays out in endless artisan cheeses (sheep, cow and goat’s milk); bountiful produce and orchard fruit; grass-feed meats. Don’t miss “Cows on the Concourse”, early June. Got milk!
Eastern Market Farmer’s Line, Washington, DC, 7th St. & North Carolina Ave., SE. , www.easternmarket-dc.org
Sat. & Sun. 7:00 am – 4:00.
Since 1873, this outdoor market has been touting local produce, meat, fish, poultry and farmstead cheese. The Market Lunch draws a cCrowds to its come for crab cakes and blueberry pancakes who and then stroll over to the near-by Flea Market for the afternoon.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Old Ferry Bldg., San Francisco, CA
Sat. 8:00 am – 2:00 pm, Tues 10:00 am – 2:00 Year Round. *
Thanks to the extensive growing season, you’ll find pears, pomegranates, strawberries and melons in ready supply plus extraordinary jams, bread and organic products, all in the lovely renovated 1898 ferry terminal that survived the city’s major earthquakes.
Green City Market, Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
Wed. & Sat. 7:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Offering a full schedule of nationally known chef demonstrations, this market features food prepared from products sold at market, live music, and street acts.
Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market, 4303 Diamond Head Rd., Honolulu, HI, www.gohawaii.com/oahu
Sat. 7:30 am - 11:00 am.
Minutes from Kapuhulu and Waikiki, this lush tropical market showcases Hawaii’s best – pineapples, bananas, sugar cane and fish in lush surrounds.
Marin Farmers Market, Civic Center, Marin, CA
Sun. 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.
A garden of California delights, this market features fresh figs, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes and a full wide range of locally sourced heirloom carrots, tomatoes, greens from one of the richest agricultural climates in the country.
Morningside Market, 1393 Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta, GA
Sat. 8:00 am – 11:30 am.
Started as a cooperative effort among farmers in the Old Atlanta Waterworks, this Georgia Grown market brings an abundance of Georgia peaches, Vidalia onions, and stone milled grits to town. It’s a favorite of area chefs.
Pikes Place Market, 85 Pike St., Seattle, WA
Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm
This bustling tourist destination, along Seattle’s storied waterfront, showcases West Coast oysters, fish, seafood and the iconic orchard fruit (apples, pears, Rainer cherries), plus regional crafts and antiques. The birthplace of Starbucksthe modern coffee craze, it’s lined with bistros and bars with great eats.
Portland Farmers Market, South Park Blocks, Harrison & Montgomery, Portland, OR., http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/
Sat. 8:30 am -2:00 pm.
Produce is this market’s backbone, but also find wild salmon, oysters, clams, and buffalo. Who can resist fresh Royal Ann cherries before they become maraschinos? Find fresh abalone, pears and incredible tree fruit, black walnuts, and festivals every weekend.
Portsmouth Farmers, 1 Jenkins Ave., Portsmouth, NH
Sat. 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Tucked right off the waterfront, this pretty pristine market features fresh lobsters, cod, those tiny salt potatoes, and gorgeous veggies, plus hand crafted quilts and home spun yarn.
The Reading Terminal Farmers Market, Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, PA, www.readingterminalmarket.org
Sun. 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
After 150 years, the Farmers Market at Reading Terminal is reborn. Offering pastured poultry, beef, pork and lamb as well as organic produce; it is located right across the street from Philly’s storied Reading Terminal, a source for delicious local delicacies (aka Philly cheese steak sandwiches).
St. Paul Farmers Market, Market Square, St. Paul, MN
Sat & Sun 6:00 am – 1:00 pm.
One of the country’s oldest continuous retail markets; this features a range of growers from less than 50 miles away. Here, immigrant farmers introduced Italian tomatoes, Mexican pepper, Vietnamese cilantro, and Hmong bitter melon to the Heartland.
Santa Fe Farmers Market, DeVargas Center, Santa Fe, NM
Sat. & Tues., 7:00 am to noon.
One of the country’s oldest continuing markets features more than 100 growers with local delicacies such as pistachios and every kind of dried and fresh chili imaginable. Everything sold here is local, including the wheat baked into the artisan bread.
Santa Monica Farmers Market, Arizona Ave & 3rd St., Santa Monica, CA, www.smgov.net/farmers_market
Sat. 8:00 am – 12:00 noon.
Find Asian pears, pomegranates, grapes and peaches and a vibrant international crowd. The Persian population favors green pistachios; Oaxacans prefer fresh shell beans; the beautiful greens and field fresh vegetables delight everyone.
Santa Cruz River, NE Corner of Speedway & Riverview, Tucson, AZ
Thurs. 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
The dessert blooms here with apricots in the spring and pumpkins and corn come fall. Native and medicinal herbs abound.
Simply Homegrown, Savannah & Main, Clayton, GA
Sat. 9:00 – noon.
Welcoming and slow-paced, this market features organic and sustainably grown Georgian peaches, Vidalia onions, stone-ground grits and heirloom veggies (okra, peanuts, etc.) from the neighboring three counties.
Soulard Farmers Market, 730 Carroll St., St. Louis, MO
Wed – Fri, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sat. – Sun. 6:00 am – 5:00 pm.
This is the last survivor of the once numerous public markets in St. Louis in a great location with lots of grit. Though not all sold here is organic, all is local and fresh. Catch a chef’s demonstration on Saturdays and stick around for a market lunch.
Sunset Valley Farmers Market, Toney Burger Center, Austin, TX
Sat. 9:00 – 1:00 pm.
The smell of roasting chilies draws you from a mile away, tickling your appetite for more than 20 different varieties of hand-crimped empanadas, the iconic Tex-Mex snack. Don’t stop there. Shop for fabulous freshly dried beans, sweet peaches, apricots, nectarines and interesting lettuces.
Union Square Green Market, Union Square Park, New York, NY
Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat, 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Find the best of the rural farms, some three generations old, featuring fabulous flowers, produce meats, exotic mushrooms, and the best sourdough pretzels around. New York City chefs shop here.
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Be A Savvy Farmer's Market Shopper
Shopping the farmer’s market is far different from a store. Allow yourself time to become immersed in the experience. Here’s how to take it all in:
Slow down. Notice the varied colors, textures and smells (coffee, roasting peppers, grilling sausages, damp earth).
Come with a basket or bag. Many growers sell bundles of vegetables and pints of fruit but do not supply big, brown grocery bags. So be prepared.
Forget the shopping list. Let the season inspire your decisions. Look to see what’s just come in, and then decide what to do with it once home.
Ask the growers if you don’t recognize a vegetable or fruit. They love to share what they know.
Bring cash. Some farmers accept checks; few take cards.
Taste! Take the samples being offered; you don’t have to buy. This is a great way to try new foods and start a conversation.
Leave Fido at home. Most markets ban dogs and all other animals for a variety of health and safety reasons.
Bring the kids. They’ll learn a lot about where and how their food is grown and perhaps want to try the unfamiliar.