Flip through a magazine or look at a menu and the signs are clear: The Farm-to-Table movement has clearly swept the nation. From coast to coast, you’ll find farm-fresh venues everywhere from big cities to small towns—and California is at the forefront of that trend. Since our state has been the nation’s agricultural leader for more than 50 years, that’s no surprise. And neither is the fact that, according to the USDA, California has over 825 Farmers’ Markets throughout the state. It’s a good thing, too, because Californians like veggies and fruit fresh and affordable treats—and we certainly don’t say no to goodies like artisan cheeses, nuts, jams, and fresh-baked goods, either. The “fresh and delicious” factor is, of course, the biggest attraction to shopping at Farmers’ Markets, but supporting local farmers and vendors is at a close second. After all, why would we want to buy grapes from Chile when we live in the land of premium grape-producers? Just run down to your Farmers’ Market and take in the farm-fresh variety—you may go in for grapes, but we guarantee you’ll walk way with a whole lot more. If you’re not sure where you can find a Certified Farmers’ Market in your town, just visit CaFarmersMarkets.com.
In the meantime, take a gander at our picks for the five best California Farmers’ Markets. And if you’re ever in one of these cities, check them out for yourself. Happy hunting!
1. Los Angeles
The Original Farmers’ Market
Los Angeles—Corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax
Monday–Friday: 9 am to 9 pm, Saturday: 9 am to 8 pm, Sunday: 10 am to 7 pm
L.A.’s Farmers’ Market opened its virtual doors to Angelenos all the way back in 1934 and since that time, it’s transformed into one of the city’s favorite destinations for tourists and residents. Strolling through, you’ll find every kind of food you could possibly crave, from fresh produce and flowers to amazing vendor stands with a fantastic variety of quality regional and international dishes. You’ll also come across interesting shops like the Light My Fire hot sauce shop and Dragunara, a fresh spice and seasoning shop. As an added bonus, the Grove shopping center is right next door so spending a day up there is double the shopping fun. Like the market’s sign says: “Meet Me at Third and Fairfax”—you won’t regret it.
2. San Francisco
Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market
One Ferry Building—Along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street
Tuesday & Thursday: 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday: 8 am to 2 pm
3. Santa Monica
Santa Monica Farmers’ Market
Santa Monica—Arizona Avenue at 2nd Street
Wednesday: 8:30 am to 1:30 pm
Santa Monica has a few Farmers’ Markets happening around town, but the Wednesday location is the only Certified Farmers’ Market in all of Southern California. The vast assortment of fresh produce, herbs, seafood, meats, flowers, and other fresh items have made this market oasis a favorite weeknight stop for both residents and the most discerning of high-profile L.A. chefs, not to mention, Travel & Leisure magazine included it on their 2013 “America’s Best Farmers’ Markets” list. One great attraction for restaurant lovers is the “Featured Restaurant of the Week” program where different local restaurants cook up their favorite dishes. Check the calendar to see what culinary treats will be waiting for you.
Sunday Farmers’ Market
Downtown Sacramento—8th and W St.
Sunday: 8 am to 12 pm
Sunday Farmers’ Market in Sacramento is a big hit with local residents who make a Sunday-ritual of heading “under the freeway” downtown and stocking up on the freshest fare in the county. People rave about the stands filled with gorgeous flowers, fresh, affordable produce, eggs, nuts, seafood, pastries and other goodies that will make your mouth water. The market is one of the biggest around, so put on those walking shoes and get ready for some major shopping.
5. San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market
Downtown San Luis Obispo—Higuera St.
Thursday: 6:10 pm to 9 pm
In the heart of charming San Luis Obispo’s downtown is a Farmers’ Market gem that draws over 10,000 shoppers a week. Farmers and vendors from all over the Central Coast region head to Higuera Street every Thursday to set up shop and supply SLO residents with farm-fresh produce, decadent baked goods, prepared food stands, and more. Marketers especially rave about the various BBQ stands that serve up some of the best barbecued food in town. Since the market runs in conjunction with the SLO Downtown Association, you’ll also find some fun events happening at the Market, including live music and children’s events.
Is your favorite California Farmers’ Market on the list? Let us know what you think!
Images Sourced: FlickR