The Best Farmers Markets in America Belong to These 5 Cities
If you love fresh produce and supporting local businesses, consider visiting one of these cities. Plus, we’re sharing the top farmers markets to hit in each destination.
In many cities, the opening day of seasonal farmers markets marks the start of summer. Streets lined with white tents and folding tables are quickly flooded with early-risers looking to get a jump-start on their weekend. And who can resist the free samples, fresh produce, and bouquets of local blooms. If you’re lucky, your farmers market might allow dogs to come, too!
Many farmers-market dwellers will claim their city puts on the best event, but which ones are truly worth traveling across state lines? To find the best farmers markets, we started with this recent study of the top cities for farmers markets, conducted by Empire Today. The results are based on a number of factors, including the location’s walkability score, the average weather in April, the number of farmers markets held per 100k people, and the affordability score. They even considered whether a farmers markets accepted credit cards.
While the study identifies the cities that are the best fit to host a farmers market, it's not necessarily reflective of the best farmers markets in the United States. So we did our own research to find the best farmers market in each of the top five cities. They’re conveniently placed in all regions of the country, so whether you’re on the west coast, east coast, or somewhere in-between, there’s a weekend trip you can take to visit one of these favorite farmers markets.
5. Richmond, VA
Residents of Richmond have a fair share of farmers markets to choose from almost any day of the week. However, we recommend the South of the James Market, which runs every Saturday, May through October, and includes winter hours as well. With more than 100 vendors, it features a variety of local businesses offering goods outside the expected fruits and veggies. Our first stop would be to Two and a Half Irish-Men bakery, where they have toasted coconut and walnut carrot cake, and even a few gluten-free options.
4. Tucson, AZ
This city scored high thanks to its farmers market-friendly weather—on average Tuscon sees just 0.3 inches 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, open every Sunday, and has a permanent space with an entertainment circle, restrooms, and three shaded pavilions in case the Arizona sun gets too hot. Get there in time to catch the Taste of the Market event every weekend, which teaches shoppers about the local produce they’re buying.
3. El Paso, TX
Everything is bigger in Texas—and apparently cheaper, too. According to the Empire Today study, the average produce cost in El Paso was one of the lowest of all 100 surveyed cities. The Downtown Art and Farmers Market self-identifies as an artisan market, with just as much focus on the arts and entertainment as there is on the food. Reviewers on Yelp! raved about the variety of available products and amount of vegan options.
2. Madison, WI
Madison is putting Midwest farmers markets on the map thanks to its high amount of markets and percentage of those accepting credit cards. The Dane County Farmers Market in the heart of the city is buzzing every Saturday, April through November. While you’re there, be sure to try real Wisconsin cheese curds from the Murphy Farms stand, which is just one of the 275 vendors at the Dane County market.
1. Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. has the most farmers markets of any city, with an average of 8.2 per 100,000 people. In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, make a trip to the Eastern Market. This massive event space has several different points of interest, including the South Hall Market, which has fresh produce, meat, pastries, and cheese Tuesday through Sunday. On the weekends, the outdoor open-air venue hosts even more food and craft vendors.