Whether you're visiting or call the DMV your home, if you want the freshest local produce, yummiest artisanal treats, to get shop-happy over a unique find, or channel your inner foodie at a local food vendor, your best bet is to visit one of the 196 farmers markets in the tri-state area. When there's so much to choose from, knowing which market that will give you an amazing shopping experience is the hard part. To ease your woes, here's a deep dive into the best of what the DMV has to offer. From DC to Baltimore, you can eat your way into a food coma wherever you are on any day of week.
DC Farmers Markets
As DC's oldest and most popular food & arts destination, you'll find a little bit of everything at Eastern Market, with an ample selection of fresh meats and seafood, baked goods, artisanal cheeses, exotic produce, fancy pastas, and flower stalls. If food is not the only thing you're in the mood for, feel free to let the its outdoor flea market and the street vendors distract you. The beautifully handcrafted jewelry, artistic photographs of historic DC landmarks, maps, clothes and antiques are a mere taste of the kind of unique finds that are up for grabs. Though open daily except on Mondays, the weekends are better for people watching, day dates, and socializing, if you're into photography or just some idle conversation. As one of DC's tourist traps, get there early to avoid the long lines and crowds or shop during the week.
For a truly unique experience, journey down to Union Market and make a day of it, since the burgeoning area has much to offer. Open daily and year round sans Mondays, the market is a culinary epicenter surrounded by a vibrant mix of retail, hotel, entertainment venues and other commercial proprietors. Located across from Gallaudet University on the 6th St side, Union Market is a rare gem in DC proper where a melting-pot of ethnic groups and a mixed bag of social-economic classes can converge and evoke a vivid spirit of community.
Just dash of what's popping at Union Market are yoga happy hours with kombucha at Lab 1270, the annual Gilt City warehouse sale that occurs every February, Union Market Drive-In outdoor film showings, book signings, musical performances, cooking demos, gallery shows and art exhibitions, Market Talks hosted by American University, as well as retail and foodie Pop-Up Studio events hosted by boutique designers and local food and beverage pros.
One aspect that you won't find at any other farmers market in the DMV is the Angelika Pop-Up cinema, which combines luxurious comfort with sleek surroundings, while offering specialty film programming and unique events. Some of Union Market's vendors even offer friendly discounts when you show your same-day ticket stub. Bring on the happy hour deals!
Dupont Circle FRESHFARMS Market
With 40+ vendors and producers, the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market lies in the heart of one of DC's most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. Open on Sundays all year round at from morning until early afternoon, when both the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times of London named it one of the country's top farmers' markets, this must-stop gained considerable amount of cachet. Don't forget to arrive with cash if you want to avoid the $2 charge to convert credit card amounts to wooden tokens at the south entrance of the market on 20th St. However, some vendors now take cards, so the choice remains yours.
Quality produce, healthy, uncommon variety, and fresh prepared foods are the top draws to this market. During the warmer months, sometimes you'll happen a band playing at the metro station entrance which really sets the mood. Don't forget to come hungry. With a large selection of samples available, you could make a meal out of their offerings: slivers of apples, cubes of cheese, salsa, hummus, and soup. Unfortunately, price and service depends on the vendor, so don't let one vendor's attitude spoil your fun. There are plenty of others with bright, friendly smiles who would love to offer a helping hand or haggle with you.
Capital Harvest on Plaza
If you're having a joie de vivre moment down in Federal Triangle, stop by the Capital Harvest on Plaza (CHoP for short) to soak up the sun. Every Friday from 11am to 3pm, May to Nov, you can feast on a bevy of sumptuous samples of hummus, smoked salmon, and other treats. If you're unlucky enough to not arrive early enough for samples, there are index cards with recipes on them for those who are handy in the kitchen. Enjoy the overflowing kettlecorn popcorn that you try to but cannot quite finish in one sitting (who knows... maybe you can). A select sampling of their farmers, artisans and producers include All Things Olive, Mountain Culture Kombucha, Pearl Fine Teas, Zeke's Coffee, and Gonzales Produce.
H Street FRESHFARMS Market
Despite being located in one of DC's hottest neighborhoods, the H Street FRESHFARM Market is a relatively low-key and intimate option compared to the bigger and busier markets. But don't let its quaint size fool you. If you're all about fresh, local and cheap, deals are to be had here at prices lower than your average grocery store. For out-of-this-world bacon, tomatoes by the bucket, divine gelato, or fresh potted herbs to grow that herb garden you said you always wanted, there's no better place to venture than to H St on Saturdays from 9am to 12pm.
NOVA Farmers Markets
Old Town Farmers Market
Haggling wares since 1753, Old Town Farmers Market is the oldest continuously-run market in the nation. George Washington (who I lovingly refer to as GDub) used to send the produce grown at Mount Vernon to be sold at this market. The market offers free parking under City Hall for the duration of the market. Here's the bad news: no dogs are allowed in the market. Sorry Fluffy.
Open on Saturdays from 7am to 12pm, with over 70 vendors there is plenty to choose from if you're the picky sort, including a variety of artisanal goods such as candles, soaps and lotions, small furniture, jewelry, clothing and art. But that's not the best part—if you're still hungry after feasting on samples, you're in luck. The market is at the heart of boozy brunch territory, so take your pick of the many amazing restaurants that called Old Town home. Heck, make a day of it and take a nap in the grass down by the river. Now wasn't the best idea ever? You'll thank me later.
Arlington Farmers Market
Since 1979, residents and visitors have flocked to the Arlington Farmers Market to meet and support regional farmers and food producers. Run by Community Foodworks, who manage five other farmers markets in DC, the quaint, yet mellow market showcases the best the area has to offer in farm-fresh ingredients. Located adjacent to the Arlington County Courthouse Parking Lot, parking is free in the garage below the AMC movie theater.
A wide variety of civic groups, such as Virginia Master Gardeners, local entertainers and musicians help to create a wonderful atmosphere that makes patrons feel right at home every Saturday year round from 8am to noon in from April to December and 9am to noon from January to March. Other perks are the nearby crafts market and the open-air bike shop, where you can give your bike a tune up. The man who runs the Holy GraEl of Sorbet will lure you in with his crazy stories, make you laugh, and give your kids a free taste. The vendors know their wares and are genuinely interested in helping you. Come with an appetite and indulge at one of the many food trucks that are parked at the market.
City of Falls Church Farmers Market
With 50+ vendors in the peak season and 40+ during the winter, the City of Falls Church Farmers Market is a year round provider of gorgeous fruits and veggies, flavorful food, and engaging vendors. Because of its unusual layout and its tendency to overcrowd on good weather days, stopping to socialize and huge strollers are a big no-nos within the narrow walkways, as are dogs. Make it up to your favorite canine friend by buying a treat at the Chase Your Tail Bakery. Kate's Crepes is a fan favorite for lunch and Mama's Donut Bites for irresistible crack-like donuts. For the most amazing chocolate almond croissants in the known foodie universe, Bonaparte Breads is heaven sent.
Every week, the market features cooking demonstrations by the chefs of local restaurants using in-season produce found at the market. Delicious samples included! Historic Cherry Hill Park is a perfect distraction for the kids with plenty of leafy, post-shopping picnic spots. Bathrooms are located in the community center, if you require relief. Parking can be a pain if you don't arrive early or carpool with friends.
MD Farmers Markets
Takoma Park Farmers Market
Known as a haven for hippies, Takoma Park wouldn't be complete without a respectable farmers market—and the Takoma Park Farmers Market is no exception. Open Sundays year round from 10am to 2pm, the market serves as a lively place for residents and visitors to connect and converge while shopping for locally-sourced, sustainably-produced, organic options, including produce, breads, humanely-raised meats, artisanal cheese, eggs, specialty baked goods and more. With plenty of samples to go around, your tummy will thank you.
Set up along the sidewalks, you can often find street performers jamming and do-good nonprofits sharing information. With an annual pie contest and wine served all summer long by local wineries, this is the farmers market with spunk and personality. Come early for eggs as they often sell out before noon. The vendors are super-friendly and helpful. Prime example: a lady asked for peppers "with kick, but not so much kick I can't feel the roof of my mouth" for the salsa she was making, and the vendor packed a perfectly mixed pint for her on the spot. Rock on!
Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market
A foodie's paradise, the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market (dubbed Amish Market by the locals) is one of my favorite excuses to visit burbs of Annapolis. Located in the Annapolis Harbour Center in Parole, it sits right next to the movie theater, so if you want to grub before or after going to the movies, make sure you time it right. The market is open from Thursday to Saturday, with hours between 9am and 6pm on Thursday and Friday and Saturday hours between 8:30am and 3pm.
A local haunt, the staff have regulars that they address by name and sometimes even give them hugs. Everything is made fresh daily and on site. When you walk in, try not to lose yourself in the counters with ice cream, sandwiches, salads, fresh pretzels, smoothies, milkshakes and other items that are made to order. There's even more fun to be had as you explore areas such as the bakery, mini candy & chocolate shop, donut stand, restaurant, and at the back, a section that carries a beautiful assortment of spices, teas, jellies, rubs, baking and cooking supplies that you won't find at your favorite grocery store.
Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar
Located under the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday & Saratoga streets, the Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar is Maryland's largest producers-only market, meaning that all vendors make what they sell. Every Sunday between April and December, a mélange of produce, meats, dairy, breads, flowers, collectibles and crafts is available from 7am to sell out, which is usually around noon. Kevin Brown, co-owner and operator of two cafes and frequent host of the area's most popular food events, jump starts the weekly cooking demos at the Saratoga Street entrance from 9:30 to 11:30am. Market goers are welcome to wander by and enjoy helpful cooking tips, recipes and delicious samples.
From bison to organically raised and produced milk, you'll drop your jaw at the sight of such a diverse selection of foods, cuisine, and collectibles. Multicultural flavors are a fixture here with over a dozen vendors shelling out mouth-watering dishes such as pit beef sandwiches, omelets, breakfast burritos, crepes, wood-fired pizzas, pies, quiches, soups, noodles and dumplings. The live music performances and street art aid in creating a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Mercy Medical Center offers complimentary parking to patrons in the Mary Catherine Bunting Garage, located at 330 Guilford Avenue for a maximum of two hours for the duration of the market. Attendees must use the Pleasant Street entrance and bring their ticket to the Welcome Tent for validation.
Crofton Farmers Market
With 60+ vendors setting up shop every Wednesday evening, Crofton Farmers Market is the largest farmers market in Anne Arundel County. The market also has an app to maximize your customer experience with updated weekly specials at your fingertips. App-only rewards like discounts or free goods are offered by participating vendors. In its second season, the market recently relocated from the Giant parking lot on Rt. 3 to the Crofton Country Club.
The market's wonderful atmosphere and authentic small town vibe instantly makes you feel like you're a part of the community, especially when you're not. There's even live music to accompany your shopping experience. A few things here that you can't find at every farmers market are doggie treats and collars, wine, mead (yes, I said mead!), serving dishes and candles repurposed from wine bottles, the Face Paint Lady, award-winning crab cakes, plus a rarity in Anne Arundel County—Jamaican cuisine.