Find fragrant bouquets of freshly picked flowers, dewy bundles of organic lettuce, baskets of crisp apples and trays of flaky, artisanal pastries that beckon to shoppers from the stalls at LA's numerous farmers markets. While you’re in town, make sure to visit one of these open-air gatherings to see what local farmers, bakers and crafters have to offer.
If you only have time to visit one farmers market, this one should be it. With more than 100 restaurants, shops and food vendors, this Los Angeles institution has been offering fresh produce, specialty foods and authentic ethnic cuisine to Los Angeles visitors and locals for nearly 80 years. Check out their interactive directory to plan your shopping list.
Third and Fairfax, www.farmersmarketla.com, Mon.–Fri.: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sat.: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun.: 10 a.m.– 7 p.m.
What this quaint market lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. Fill your basket with ripe, juicy tomatoes; generous bundles of sweet basil; flavored olive oils; and fragrant, hand-poured soy candles.
209 N. Larchmont Blvd., Lot #694, Sun.: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Before heading to the Walk of Fame, experience Hollywood like a local by walking through its vibrant farmers market. Whether you’re stocking up on groceries or filling up on pre-prepared foods, this centrally located gathering has everything a hungry shopper could crave. Tip back freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, nibble on grilled sweet corn on the cob, and sip mouthwatering watermelon lemonade while meandering through the aisles of produce and meat stands.
Ivar and Selma Ave., between Hollywood and Sunset Blvd., Sundays: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Head to Santa Monica, where three days a week various farmers markets tout entertainment for the whole family, including a petting zoo, pony rides, live music and plenty of hot food stands. Take advantage of the free parking or free bike valet, and get ready for an afternoon of entertainment, picnicking and shopping near the ocean. Watch for special events like cooking demonstrations, "ask the dietician" sessions and appearances by local chefs.
City of Santa Monica Farmers Markets, Arizona Ave. & Fourth St., Wed.: 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.; 2200 Virginia Ave., Sat.: 8 a.m.–1 p.m.; 2640 Main St., Sun.: 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Sure, this weekend gathering has all the hallmarks of other neighborhood farmers markets, but it also boasts an impressive selection of handmade jewelry. While you’re deciding on something sparkly to buy, munch on a treat from the Great Harvest Bread Company, or opt for a pork and cheese-filled pupusa from a mom-and-pop stand.
741 S. Gretna Green Way, Sun.: 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
The Friday market in Venice is on the small side, but the vendors here are known for being super friendly. Don't be surprised if you end up hearing all about the potato grower's special blend of soil or if you snag a from-memory recipe for grilled zucchini salad. The market comes with a dose of Venice's famous bohemian vibe — everything is compostable or recyclable, there's plenty of bicycle parking and it's not too hard to find a shot of wheatgrass.
Venice Blvd. & Venice Way, www.venicefarmersmarket.com, Fri.: 7 a.m.–11 a.m.
For a mid-week jaunt through an open-air market, head over to this outdoor event, where shoppers line up for Hawaiian barbecue chicken, made-to-order empanadas and a variety of flavored hummus and pitas.
1800 Avenue of the Stars, Thurs.: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
This mellow market might skimp on the crafts and jewelry booths, but it has plenty of fresh produce to make up for it. Stock up on groceries for the weekend, such as flavorful heirloom tomatoes, Japanese cucumbers, massive avocados, free-range poultry and herbed goat cheese.
1125 Logan St., Fri.: 3 p.m.–7 p.m.
This mid-size market boasts easy parking, live music, a petting zoo, and plenty of ready-to-eat staples like kettle corn, made-to-order crepes, tamales and burritos. Before leaving, try the ruby-red strawberries at Harry’s Berries and the artisanal pretzels rolls from Rockenwagner Bakery.
9300 Block of Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills, Sun.: 9 a.m.–1 p.m., http://www.beverlyhills.org/exploring/farmersmarket/
This Sunday market is a favorite among the toddler set — it offers pony rides, a petting zoo, a train ride and a bouncy slide, in addition to plenty of locally farmed produce. Epicureans won't be disappointed, either. Vendors sell homemade sauces, pastries and preserves, and one will even sharpen your favorite kitchen knives.
Ventura Place between Laurel Canyon Blvd. and Radford Ave., Studio City, Sun.: 8 a.m.–2 p.m., www.studiocityfarmersmarket.com
During peak summer months, dozens of regional growers converge at this farmers market in the Valley, where you'll find everything from locally made honey to local eggs, meat and cheese. Oh, and endless piles of colorful, fragrant fruits and vegetables.
17400 Victory Blvd, Encino, Sun.: 8 a.m.–1 p.m., www.localharvest.org
Because this market features just as much delicious, ready-to-eat street food as it does produce, it's a favorite among Downtown workers, who fill up for lunch on Thai barbecue chicken, falafal wraps, roasted nuts and authentic tamales, and then take home local veggies and artisan bread for dinner.
Bank of America Plaza, 333 S. Hope St., Fri.: 11 a.m.–3 p.m.