These Cities Are Home to Some of the Best Farmers Markets in the U.S.

If you love fresh produce and supporting local businesses, pay a visit to one of these five cities with top-notch farmers markets.

In many cities, the opening day of farmers markets marks the start of summer. Streets lined with white tents and folding tables are quickly flooded with early risers looking to jumpstart their weekend. Who can resist the free samples, fresh produce, and bouquets of local flowers? If you're lucky, your farmers market might allow dogs to come, too!

Many farmers-market aficionados will claim their city's variety of vendors is the best. But which events are truly worth traveling across state lines to check out? To identify the best farmers markets, we started with this study of the top cities for farmers markets, conducted by Empire Today. The results are based on a number of factors, including each location's walkability score, the average weather in April, the number of farmers markets per 100,000 people, and the affordability rating. They even considered whether a farmers market accepts credit cards.

map of best farmers market cities in usa
Image courtesy of Empire Today.

Of course, this study only identifies the cities that are the best hosts for farmers markets. Its findings don't necessarily reflect which ones have the best vendors or atmosphere. So we did our own research to find the best farmers markets in the study's top five cities. They're conveniently spread across several regions of the country, so you can plan a trip to one of these favorites, whether you're on the west coast, east coast, or somewhere in-between.

busy street with food vendors
Image courtesy of South of James Market via Facebook.

5. Richmond, VA

Residents of Richmond have more than their fair share of farmers markets to choose from—almost any day of the week. For us, one rises to the top: the South of the James Market, which runs every Sunday, all year long. With a rotating cast of vendors, this market (which is located in a beautiful park) features a variety of local businesses offering goods outside the expected fruits and veggies. Pop by the Polpetti Italian Market stand for fresh pasta, or visit My Empanada to try their Colombian creations.

farmers market with mountains in background
Image courtesy of Heirloom Farmers Market.

4. Tucson, AZ

This city scored high thanks to its market-friendly weather—on average Tuscon sees less than half an inch of rain in April. Pair sunshine with an incredible mountain view, and you have the perfect Sunday morning at the Heirloom Farmers Market in Rillito Park. It's the city's largest year-round market and has a permanent space with an entertainment circle, restrooms, and three shaded pavilions (for days when the Arizona sun feels scorching). Be sure to catch the Taste of the Market event every weekend, which teaches shoppers about the local produce they're buying.

table with fresh produce
Image courtesy of the Downtown Arts and Farmers Market.

3. El Paso, TX

Everything is bigger in Texas—and apparently cheaper, too. According to the Empire Today study, the average price of produce in El Paso was one of the lowest of all 100 surveyed cities. The El Paso Downtown Artist and Farmers Market calls itself an artisan market, with just as much focus on the arts and entertainment as food. Reviewers rave about the variety of products, particularly the vegan options.

Busy farmers market stands
Image courtesy of the Dane Country Farmers Market.

2. Madison, WI

Madison is putting Midwest farmers markets on the map, thanks to its density of markets and the widespread acceptance of credit cards. The Dane County Farmers' Market in the heart of the city is buzzing every Wednesday and Saturday, mid-April through November. While you're there, be sure to indulge in real Wisconsin cheese curds from the Murphy Farms stand, which is just one of roughly 275 vendors at the Dane County market.

Street with art vendors
Image courtesy of Eastern Market.

1. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., has the highest number of farmers markets per capita of any city, according to the Empire Today study, with an average of 8.2 per 100,000 people. In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, make a trip to the Eastern Market. Founded in 1873, this massive event has several points of interest, including the South Hall Market, which peddles fresh produce, meat, pastries, and cheese Tuesday through Sunday. The outdoor open-air venue hosts even more food and craft vendors on the weekends.

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