Overflowing with colorful produce from California’s rich agricultural land, Santa Monica’s farmers markets are a literal feast for the senses. Better yet, strolling the open-air gatherings is a quintessential slice of genuine Southern California life—which, around here, happens to mean bagging your berries alongside A-list celebs and lauded chefs from top Santa Monica restaurants. And with easy bus access and bike-friendly options like bike valets, arriving is easy with public transportation. Here’s the scoop on each of Santa Monica's farmers markets. By Elizabeth Jenkins
DOWNTOWN SANTA MONICA FARMERS MARKETS
Arizona Avenue, between 4th & Ocean
Wednesdays 8am to 1pm
Chefs from all over Los Angeles County converge on Wednesday's Santa Monica Farmers Market for first pick of the goods. And with 75 farmers spread out over four blocks, the selection is vast. Roots also run deep. Three growers—Flying Disc Ranch in Thermal, Mike and Sons Egg Ranch in Ontario, and Scott Farms in Dinuba—have set up shop here since the farmers market opened in 1981. If you come hungry, you can find food from local downtown restaurants which make weekly appearances.(Tip: Free 90-minute parking is available in the structures on Second and Fourth Streets, and bike stands are plentiful.)
Arizona Avenue, between 4th & 2nd
Saturdays 8am to 1pm
Claiming the title “Organic Market,” Downtown Santa Monica's farmers market started in 1991 and, on Saturday, offers the largest percentage of certified-organic growers of any market in the city. Additionally, each weekend features menu options from downtown restaurants. Other highlights include Valerie Confections, which sells seasonally inspired pastries, hand pies, and cakes, both sweet and savory, and Thao Farms, which offers an assortment of Asian staples such as taro, turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger.
VIRGINIA AVENUE PARK/PICO BOULEVARD FARMERS MARKET
2200 Virginia Ave
Saturdays 8am to 1pm
The park setting, across from a public library, adds a tranquil, family-friendly vibe at the Santa Monica farmers market located at Santa Monica's Pico Farmers Market. Seek out Wild Local Seafood, which draws both celebrated chefs and home cooks. Three parking attendants help keep traffic flowing and a free bike valet makes it tempting to leave the car at home. Look for free monthly preserving classes taught by LA County Master Food Preservers and a monthly Master Gardener booth.
MAIN STREET FARMERS MARKET
2640 Main St
Sundays 8:30am to 1:30pm
Set between the historic Victorian House and the California Heritage Museum, the Sunday Main Street Farmers Market in Santa Monica is a favorite for local families. Groundwork Coffee Company provides fresh-roasted coffee to aid early-rising parents. There is plenty of entertainment to keep the family happy including live, kid-friendly bands that perform everything from bluegrass to French tunes. Other interactive activities, like face painting, keep the kids smiling all morning long. You can also find lots of delicious food prepared with fresh produce – even some dishes made by local restaurants. Main Street businesses, like Fedora Primo, which sells Panama hats, fedoras, and more, set up booths at this farmers market, which are alongside growers like Wieser Family Farms, whose lilacs are a favorite in spring.
SANTA MONICA FARMERS MARKET TIPS
Bring Your Own Bag (or Basket)
Chances are you will find many different delicious foods or maybe you will find a hand-crafted work of art that you can’t live without. Bring a bag or basket to carry around, and your trip to the farmers market will be so much easier as you hop from stall-to-stall, exploring everything on display.
Spending the day at a Santa Monica farmers market can be a great time. Nursing a sun burn for the next few days is not. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen or wear a hat. Spending a few minutes thinking about this now will save you hours of pain.
Bring Your Appetite
Some people say don’t shop on an empty stomach, but if you come to one of these farmers markets full, you will be missing out on some amazing food. Come hungry and do a little bit of shopping with your taste buds before you buy.
Even though many local businesses take debit/credit cards, cash at the farmers market will make your trip seamless. In the event where you can’t use your card to buy that pound of fresh seafood, you will be glad that you don’t have to change your dinner plans just because you didn’t have bills on you.
Farmers markets are a fantastic place to pick up organic and fresh ingredients, and many restaurants in Santa Monica use produce from the local Santa Monica farmers markets. If you are looking for restaurants that used locally-sourced food, check out our guide on farm-to-table restaurants.