Almost all major cities have them, and almost all small towns should. Farmers' markets are a goldmine for those looking to buy fresh, local produce, meat, spices, pastries, flowers, dairy products, and more. What initially started as a practical meetup for farmers to sell their bounty has ballooned into a nationwide tradition, and customers sometimes journey hours to experience one of these eco-concious rural celebrations.
Whether visitors are staying close to home or traveling across the US, buying a meal's ingredients from a farmers' market is one of the best ways to support the local economy and help the environment. Finding a farmers' market in any state is possible, but here is a list of 10 farmers' markets that are truly impressive and that will never let you leave with an empty stomach.
10 Eastern Market, Washington D.C.
Found in the middle of an historic neighborhood near Capitol Hill, the Eastern Market is one of the few historic public markets left in the area. Part of the market burned down in 2007 but was rebuilt in 2009 and came back stronger than ever. The indoor merchants are open almost all week (closed on Mondays) and sell everything from flowers to poultry to fruits to pasta. The outdoor vendors, open only on the weekends, are more focused on handicrafts and sell a range of goods from hand-made furniture, jewelry, art, and soaps.
9 Copley Square Farmers' Market, Boston
Boston's largest farmers' market, the Copley Square Farmers' Market, always draws a huge crowd, and for good reason. Open on Tuesdays and Fridays from May to November, the market offers fresh vegetables, bread, cheese, smoked fish, and meat. For vegans and those on a gluten-free diet, the market has you covered with snacks that will easily fit into your diet.
This market should actually be more of a draw than the cities famous Quincy Market. While Quincy has developed into something of an overdone tourist destination, Boston's Copley Square Farmers' Market is a definite must-see for those interested in what the city truly has to offer.
8 Santa Fe Farmers' Market, Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Farmers' Market shows a genuine dedication to local farmers as it ensures that 100% of the vegetables, fruits, and nursery plants come from northern New Mexico. They also promote small farms and sustainable agriculture through their policies and activities, making this market a must-see if you're in the area. You'll know you're getting fresh, local products, as well as supporting a worthy cause.
7 Municipal Market, Atlanta
The Municipal Market, known to the locals as the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, started as a way for farmers to rejuvenate the energy in the city after the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917. The market was a hit and eventually became what it is today; an expansive building filled to the brim with local products, restaurants, and retail shops. There's even a space where you can participate in classes or workshops in bread baking, cheese making, and more.
6 Soulard Farmers' Market, St. Louis
Soulard Farmers' Market boasts a rich history, having gotten its start in 1779 as an open meadow where farmers went to sell their produce. Its more official beginning came in 1841, about 40 years after the Louisiana Purchase, making it the oldest farmers' market west of the Mississippi. The main building that can be seen today was created in an Italian Renaissance "H" style, making the architecture almost as interesting as the variety of products that can be found inside.
5 Union Square Greenmarket, New York City
With more than 100 farmers, bakers, and fishers selling their products, Union Square Greenmarket hosts an incredible assortment of delicious goods. The market is also environmentally and socially conscious, integrating a food scrap collection and clothing collection into some of their market days, ensuring that visitors leave with a full stomach as well as a full heart on any Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday of the year.
4 Portland State University Farmers' Market, Portland
Honey, herbs, seafood, nuts, alcohol, and more can be found at this year-round market. It's only open on Saturdays, meaning visiting times are a bit limited, but visitors who manage to squeeze it into their busy schedules won't be disappointed. The market ensures that visitors are entertained by hosting local musicians as well as famous local chefs to give cooking demonstrations for buyers who want to hone their cooking skills using their newly-bought local ingredients.
3 Green City Market, Chicago
In addition to hosting an amazing variety of products, the Green City Market includes an impressive assortment of educational activities, including an interactive teaching garden where visitors can help plant, harvest, and take care of the garden. The market also demonstrates a dedication to sustainable farming by requiring all vendors to be certified by a third party organization, meaning visitors can support sustainable farming efforts simply by buying the delicious goods at the market.
2 Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, San Francisco
Shoppers looking for regional products, organic produce, or artisan creations will find it all on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. Those who choose to visit on Thursdays can find a range of artisan street food, and Saturday market days host local restaurants offering hot meals. A common stop for famous local chefs from San Francisco, the market has a reputation for quality and variety that has been well-earned.
1 Pike Place Market, Seattle
In addition to its main location, there are actually four other locations in Seattle that belong to the market family of Pike Place, meaning visitors have a range of options when looking for their perfect products. Within the main market, there are farmers selling products from their own farms, more than 200 unique shops, and enough restaurants to fill your stomach for weeks. Don't miss this Seattle classic.