With year-round mild climes and a history steeped in agriculture, it’s no wonder Southern California farms grow some of the brightest and best produce in the world. Dozens of weekly open-air markets around town allow you to buy directly from the farmer and take home the freshest of the fresh. Many of these markets have morphed into street fairs with delicious prepared foods to enjoy on the spot, arts and crafts to shop for, and activities and entertainment to savor along with that juicy heirloom tomato. Here are some of L.A.’s best:
Santa Monica Farmers’ Market
Arizona Avenue at 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
This is the definitive foodie market. You’ll rub elbows with local culinary rock stars like Nancy Silverton and Suzanne Goin as you inspect the countless small-crop artisanal varieties, fragrant herbs, flowers and much more. Chefs make appearances at a demonstration tent while thousands of people troll the stalls.
Hollywood Farmers’ Market
Ivar Avenue at Selma Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
Sundays 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 pm
While stocking top of the line produce, this market is all about the “hang.” The longest lines are for the hot food trucks; corn tamales stuffed with goat cheese, Salvadorian pupusas or Jamaican jerk washed down with fresh-squeezed OJ make one heck of a breakfast. There’s always a band to groove on and funky jewelry to ogle, too.
Monrovia Farmers’ Market
East Olive Avenue at South Myrtle Avenue
Monrovia, CA 91016
Fridays 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. March – December, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. January – February
This pull-out-the-stops weekly block party is just a stone’s throw east of Pasadena and well worth the effort. BBQ smokers yield tri-tip sandwiches to munch as the band swings, and the kettle corn never stops popping. Besides the produce, endless rows of vendors can nip all your shopping needs in the bud, and kids go wild for the petting zoo and bouncy houses.
Studio City Farmers’ Market
Ventura Place (corner of Ventura Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard)
Studio City, CA 91604
Sundays 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 pm
Studio City’s market is another outing that combines pesticide-free food shopping with entertainment for the family. There’s train and pony rides along with face painting, and many a TV actor can be found there snapping pics of their happy tots. Grown-ups can indulge in sinful bacon-wrapped hot dogs while squeezing the donut peaches.
Irvine Famers’ Market
University Center at the corner of Bridge and Campus
Irvine, CA 92697
Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – Noon
At Orange County’s favorite market, you’ll want one of everything. All sorts of fruits and vegetables typically used in Asian cuisines can be had here, as well as fresh fish, baked goods and Mediterranean specialties, just to name a few options. Why wouldn’t you want to choose between 12 varieties of mushrooms?