This blog post was updated on August 20, 2018.
I became enamored with shopping fresh food at local markets when I lived in Europe. When I moved back to the U.S., I discovered farmers markets that had been “hiding” in plain sight in my city, and vowed to visit them more regularly. When I travel throughout the U.S., I love seeking out fun farmers markets in other cities as well. Here are four of my favorites – I chose them for both their product selection and overall ambiance. Enjoy!
Mill City Farmers Market (Minneapolis, MN)
Located in the historic train shed of the Mill City Museum (along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis), the Mill City Market gets an A+ for both ambiance and vendor selection. In addition to abundant produce, shoppers can purchase sheep’s milk, cheese (and even sheepskin) from local farmers, cozy handmade tops and hats made from recycled sweaters, and one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry pieces by local artisans. Come hungry and grab some gourmet fare from one of Minneapolis’s famed food trucks. The market runs May through October on Saturday mornings. During the winter months, you can visit the market inside the Mill City Museum.
Portland Farmers Market (Portland, OR)
Going strong for over twenty years, the Portland Farmers market hosts a variety of local vendors selling flowers, cheeses, breads, canned products (and the list goes on). This robust market has grown so much over the past two decades that it now occupies six sites throughout the city that operate on different days of the week: Portland State University (Sat.), Shemanski Par (Wed.), Northwest (Thurs.), King (Sun.), Buckman (Thurs.), Pioneer Courthouse Square (Mon.). One of the most impressive aspects of the Portland Farmers Market is its commitment to community programs such as FoodShare Fund Northeast and Fresh Exchange (to increase access to farmers markets for low income shoppers) and the Evergreen Campaign (promoting more recycling and less waste at farmers market sites).
Santa Monica Farmers Market (Santa Monica, CA)
Head to Main Street, Santa Monica, on Sunday mornings to experience a farmers market that epitomizes the SoCal lifestyle. From freshly baked bread and organic juice vendors to street musicians to pop-up yoga classes, the long-running Santa Monica Farmers Market is a full-body experience. Come early and plan to soak up the sun and West Coast attitude for the entire morning.
Dane County Farmers Market (Madison, WI)
On Saturday mornings in Madison, Wisconsin, farmers market vendors set up in a circle around the Capitol building. This striking setting makes for a pleasant and scenic stroll as you shop for local goods. Get there early, grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a flakey croissant, and feast your eyes on lush flowers, take in the sounds of an African drum ensemble, and enjoy Madison’s friendly vibe.