Posted August 24, 2015

Our 7 Favorite California Farmers’ Markets

Destinations

Farmers market berries

It’s almost September already. Yikes. How did that happen? Just like that, it’s all about getting the kids off to school and Q3 reports. But the end of summer is also the perfect time for getting those final seasonal wish-list items checked off. SUP yoga classes? Check. Barneys summer sale? Mission accomplished. Spending at least a few hours obsessing over perfect produce and artisanal cheese at a farmers’ market? Prepare to be checked, mister. Because for starters, California has more certified farmers’ markets — we’re talking 700-plus — than anywhere else in the country.

Fruits and Veggies

So what good foodie karma you must have if you’re visiting California this time of year (residents, you know this) because you can fill your basket to the brim with a summer spree of just about anything delicious you can imagine. Bring some helpers along because you’ll want to scoop up seasonal freshness like apples, figs, grapes, honeydew melons, Valencia oranges, strawberries, avocados, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. (Here’s a California ripening chart to get the whole enchilada). But there’s so much more to discover, like grass-fed beef, farm-raised abalone, freshly cut flowers, organic eggs, local honey, and gourmet artisanal food specialties. Hungry yet?

Well you’re in luck because we have you covered for each day of the week, with one selection per day highlighting some of our favorite California farmers’ markets. With so much to discover, it’s easy to become a bona fide Calivore.

Monday
Farmers Market Los Angeles

Los Angeles Farmers Market

It’s a rarity to find a farmers’ market open on a Monday, so why not start things off with the granddaddy of them all — the Los Angeles Farmers Market, founded in 1934 when L.A. was still the nation’s top farm county. Wedged between television studios and The Grove, a sleek, open-air shopping center, the Farmers Market is now a rambling collection of family-owned stalls and shops. Here you can still find farm-fresh produce, poultry and delish baked goods, along with gourmet groceries and related foodie faves like Sur La Table. Trivia note: A young Marilyn Monroe was the market’s first Cheesecake Queen (we’re not making this up).

Tuesday
Surf City Nights, Huntington Beach

Surf City Nights Huntington Beach

Known as a surfer’s paradise for its great waves, iconic pier, and 100 years of surfing history, Huntington Beach — aka “Surf City” — is getting serious about its food chops, too. Its recently launched Surf City Nights are filling up Main Street on Tuesday nights with Orange County farmers and vendors selling local fruits and veggies along with food items like sea salt, local honey, and homemade tamales. A kids’ area makes it a great night for a family outing, as well.

Wednesday
Heart of the City, San Francisco

Heart of the City Farmers Market

For more than three decades, the nonprofit that runs Heart of the City has made it its mission to bring fresh, local foods grown by small independent farmers into San Francisco’s city center. More than just hosting purveyors of everything from Asian vegetables to hickory-smoked pistachios, Heart of the City also shines as a model of civic responsibility by donating 1,000 pounds of produce each week to low-income residents.

Thursday
VillageFest, Palm Springs

Palm Springs VillageFest

If the Rat Pack were still around they would be crooning over the resurgence Palm Springs has been enjoying lately. One of the coolest events that has remained part of the eternally sunny city’s fabric is the Palm Springs VillageFest. On Thursday nights downtown’s Palm Canyon Drive transforms into a bazaar of food, arts, crafts, performers and a farmers’ markets offering local delicacies like desert dates.

Friday
Montecito Farmers Market, Santa Barbara

Artichokes

Just south of Santa Barbara, the secluded hamlet of Montecito is home to stunning stretches of coastline, celebrities we know by their first name, and a fantastic Friday morning farmers’ market where items like artichokes, Goleta lemons, Central Coast olives, and local seafood are ready to be your catch of the day. No guarantee on celebrity sightings, however.

Saturday
Little Italy Mercato, San Diego

Little Italy Mercato

San Diego’s inviting Little Italy brims with a vibrant neighborhood ambiance that’s bolstered by trattorias, sidewalk cafes, and craft-beer spots (San Diego does love its beer). So it’s no surprise the downtown neighborhood is also home to a Saturday farmers’ market — the Mercato — that overflows with everything you need to live la vita buona: locally sourced and produced charcuterie, olives, pasta, sauces, seafood and more.

Sunday
Santa Monica Farmers Market/Main Street

Santa Monica Farmers Market

It’s no secret that Santa Monica is a culinary haute spot thanks to its popularity as a destination that attracts visitors from around the world. Fueling the creativity of area chefs, the Santa Monica Farmers Market is where they stock up on locally sourced organic produce, farm-fresh meat products, and gourmet artisanal foods. The Sunday market (there are also Wednesday and Saturday markets) is held in photogenic Heritage Square on Main Street and it’s where you can join the foodie fun and find everything from sustainably farmed SoCal oysters and mussels to California avocados and guavas.

If you want to pair your farmers’ market forays with a stay at one of our foodie-friendly hotels, you’ll find we have accommodations for you throughout California. Check here for more info.

Photos: Flickr/Eden, Janine & Jim, Visit Huntington Beach, Flickr/Doug Belshaw, Flickr/Joe Bielawa, Flickr/Damian Gadal, Flickr/Aaron Fulkerson, Flickr/Jason Rosenberg

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