WRITTEN BY Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…See full bio
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The sweet scent of peaches mixes with the bitter aroma of freshly brewed coffee as the melodies of local musicians fill the air with energy. Piles of persimmons line up next to bunches of radishes as luscious bouquets of lavender sway in the breeze. This calming scenery is common at California’s farmers markets, where you can sample local honey, pick up a bottle of Golden State olive oil, and grab street tacos to satiate your meal-planning hunger. While at the market, you may also meet some of the farmers and find new inspiration for storing the week’s produce or learn some new tips for improving your own garden.
California’s land is bountiful, and the soil here is complex in its ability to grow a multitude of crops over the course of a year. Farmers and consumers alike are taking advantage of the region’s abundance at the 750-plus certified farmers markets throughout the state, half of which operate year-round. Between the sandy beaches with fantastic swells in Southern California and the towering redwoods and fluffy ferns of Northern California, about 2,700 producers are bringing their farm-fresh produce and artisanal goods to markets every week.
Farmers markets allow consumers to eat local products, find healthier alternatives to the readily available prepackaged meals, and reduce their carbon footprints by skipping out on the shipping inherent to mass-produced goods. From San Diego to the Bay Area, here are 13 of the best farmers markets in California.
1. The Coronado Farmers Market takes place between 2:30 and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at Ferry Landing. This market has additional bonuses of incredible ocean views and a backdrop of the San Diego skyline. Coronado’s small-town charm comes through in the vendors, who sell everything from fresh-cut flowers, to prepared foods, to all things apple—apple butter, apple cider, and dried apples—to every herb you need to complete your garden.
Discover more: San Diego Destination: Coronado
2. Ocean Beach holds its local farmers market every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. between Cable and Bacon Streets. Most weeks, the Ocean Beach Farmers Market hosts two musical performances to liven up the search for perfect produce. Samples are often available throughout to help patrons decide what to take home, and snacks are served by vendors cooking up everything from traditional tacos, to ceviche, to the local favorite: torpastas, or pasta-filled baguettes.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: Downtown San Diego
3. The Farmers Marketplace of Long Beach has a little bit of everything. From seasonal organic produce and organic honey, to fresh flowers and prepared foods—including tacos, kettle corn, and authentic tamales—this Long Beach farmers market is your one-stop-shop for local goods. Open on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., this event is sure to become a weekend tradition. (Check out the classic cars meet-and-greet on the second Sunday of the month and pet adoptions on the fourth Sunday.)
Discover more: Getaway Guide: Long Beach
4. The Original Farmers Market (a California.com recommended business) is a Los Angeles tradition with a history dating back to the 1930s. Unlike most other farmers markets, The Original Farmers Market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., meaning that residents and visitors alike have plenty of time to explore the merchants’ booths. Whether you’re in the market for fresh produce, sweet treats, or locally produced artisanal goods, you can find it all on the iconic corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue.
Discover more: One Day in L.A.
5. The Beverly Hills Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. along Civic Center Drive. Highlights include live entertainment and kids crafts, along with an extensive list of certified-organic producers. Beverly Hills also features many nonagricultural vendors who sell everything from coffee, to burgers, to juice, to knives.
Discover more: California Spotlight: Rodeo Drive
6. The Malibu Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Malibu Library parking lot and largely features organic produce. The market is also known for its wide selection of gluten-free and vegan artisanal goods, detox products such as charcoal lemonade, and unique items like sunflower-seed milk.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: A Weekend in Malibu
7. Santa Barbara is home to the Saturday Morning Market, along with five others that take place throughout the week. Established in 1982, the Saturday market at the corner of Santa Barbara and Cota Streets hosts 110 vendors and is the largest farmers market in the city. Honey, dates, pistachios, berries, and flowers can be found at the stands—and in the hands of all the locals who stop by to shop.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: Santa Barbara
8. San Luis Obispo (SLO) Farmers Market takes place on Saturday mornings between 8 and 10:45 a.m. With over 60 vendors, the SLO market features 70-plus varieties of apples, several types of kale, and dozens of flowers—along with a host of other local products. Located on Madonna Road, the market is the perfect place to meet area farmers, find out exactly what was sprayed on the produce, and spend time with the community.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: San Luis Obispo
9. Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a market at The Barnyard during growing season, from May through September. The Carmel Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., hosting 25 vendors for an intimate, local vibe. While it’s smaller than many other markets, the event makes up for it by having quality goods: Pasture-raised, grass-fed meats; organic honey; and Lisbon lemons are just a tiny taste of what the day brings.
Discover more: Spend a Day (or Three) in Carmel-by-the-Sea
10. The Jack London Square Farmers Market was founded in 1989 and is one of the most beautiful farmers markets in the Bay Area. Located along the waterfront in a vibrant region of the city, this Oakland farmers market provides stunning scenery and incredible produce—making it a vital part of your to-do list. Stop by between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays to pick up oranges, carrots, and turnips, or make it a lunch date with your besties and grab a slice of artisanal pizza.
Discover more: Forget Everything You Think You Know About Oakland
11. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is located outside of the Ferry Building along the Embarcadero of San Francisco. The market, unlike many others throughout the state, takes place three days per week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Saturdays, it starts at 8 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. This large gathering brings together artisans, farmers, and food vendors who offer everything from herbs, to artisanal jams, to flowers, to fresh-baked bread, to eggs from certified-organic farms.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: San Francisco
12. The Marin Farmers Market serves locals year-round on Thursdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. This farmers market is one of the largest in the state, featuring nearly 200 participating farmers and artisans. From crepes and confections to breads and bracelets, the market in Marin County Civic Center is truly a one-stop shop for all things local.
Discover more: Bay Area Standout: Marin
13. Point Reyes Farmers Market was the first all-local, all-organic market of its kind in the Bay Area. Held on Saturdays at Toby’s Feed Barn during the 20 weeks of the growing season, the market has been serving locals, visitors, and even British royalty (on occasion) since 1995. With decades of tradition under its belt, the market has a vendor for everything. Pick up your colorful carrots, select your artisanal cheese, choose a zucchini to place on top of a crostini, and grab some wool to keep you warm all winter long. Plan to stick around for a picnic and live music after sampling the best of the Bay.
Discover more: Getaway Guide: A Weekend in Point Reyes
With a farmers market to choose from every day of the week, there’s plenty of produce to go around in the Golden State. If you frequent your local downtown farmers market or add the markets to your vacation itineraries, share your favorites in the comments below.
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