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America's Best Farmers' Markets

Tupungato / Shutterstock [more photos]

If you haven't noticed, farmers' markets aren’t just for chefs anymore. Yes, culinary artists have always perused local stands for the freshest ingredients, but the last few years have ushered in throngs of curious foodies following their taste buds to wild berries and fresh greens. And with an eclectic array of markets now featuring ripe fruits and veggies, it's hard not to indulge our inner foodies and race to the stalls, too.

Based on reputation, versatility, online user reviews, and overall atmosphere, U.S. News Travel rounded up America's 11 best farmers' markets.

[In Pictures: America's Best Farmers' Markets]

11. Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market

Winston-Salem, N.C.

With the tantalizing aroma of freshly picked strawberries and ginger cookies wafting through the air, Cobblestone Market's colorful venue is a treat for the senses. Held at the Old Salem Museum & Gardens in Winston-Salem, N.C., the market boasts a lush setting, backed by ancient Moravian gardens. The gorgeous surroundings not only provide shoppers with a lovely ambience, but also a peek into centuries-old organic gardening practices. Every Saturday from May through November, more than 20 vendors gather in Old Salem to sell their fair-trade products. Health-conscious shoppers will be happy to note the market contains only "pesticide-free" produce.

Don't Miss: Sampling the unique offerings of Beta Verde (a dynamic mother-daughter duo that manages the market). Seasonal favorites include Totally Apricot jam and Summer Solstice Cherry preserves.

10. Windmill Farmer's Market

Finger Lakes, N.Y.

Since opening in 1987, this festive market draws indulgent food-lovers far and wide to its mélange of produce and crafts. In fact, Windmill Farmer's Market has become so popular that shoppers are willing to brave long lines to pick up fresh goods from more than 200 vendors that set up shop every Saturday. Shoppers also love taking horse and buggy rides, watching performances (including two annual car shows), picnicking in the nearby pine-tree forest, and, of course, munching on freshly-picked apples and peaches.

Don't Miss: The market's homegrown heirloom tomatoes, wild flowers, and squash.

Courtesy of FRESHFARM Markets [more photos]

9. FRESHFARM Markets

Washington, D.C. Metro Area

For 15 years, FRESHFARM Markets has been busy delivering Washingtonians a bounty of fresh produce: It is part of a larger effort to support local farms and create sustainable growing practices. Since they started their endeavor to revolutionize the community's access to organically grown foods, owners Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince have opened 10 additional markets, which can be found in various locations across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Whether you're in search of a sweet peach, a ripe avocado, or a sticky pastry, FRESHFARM has it. Arrive early on Sunday mornings to beat the rush of inspired foodies and browse the stalls in peace.

Don't Miss: The annual November Farmland Feast, when more than 100 top local chefs come together to prepare an exquisite five-course meal paired with regional wines.

[See: America's Best Ice Cream]

8. Sustainable Food Center Downtown Farmers' Market

Austin, Texas

In spring 2003, this inviting market welcomed 3,500 attendees. Since its initial success, Austin's Sustainable Food Center (SFC) Farmers' Market has extended its reach beyond downtown Austin to Sunset Valley, the Triangle, and East Austin. With a core mission of connecting local farmers and consumers, SFC brings community members together to promote healthy, organic, and fresh produce. More than 100 vendors and local cooks congregate in this live music capital every Saturday to sample scrumptious eats, ranging from kale and swiss chard in winter to sweet corn, peaches, and honey in summer.

Don't Miss: The market's vibrant annual festivals and cooking demos—like the "Eggplant and Okra and Peppers, Oh My!" event at Sunset Valley—that take place throughout the year.

7. Boulder Farmers' Market

Boulder, Colo.

Breaking the mold of traditional markets, the Boulder Country Farmers' Market prides itself on delivering Colorado residents a wide array of greens, herbs, fruit, and dairy products that are out of the ordinary. From purple beans to golden beets to seedless yellow watermelons, there are plenty of tasty flavors to sample here. Apart from its alluring variety of fresh produce, you’ll also find potpourri, dried flowers, and other homemade crafts for sale. You can hit the stands on Saturday mornings from the first week of April through the third week of November. For fewer crowds, browse the market on Wednesday evenings.

Don't Miss: Picking up summer seasonal specialties, including cherries, rutabaga, broccoli, and apricots.

Courtesy of Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance [more photos]

6. University District Farmers' Market

Seattle

On Saturday mornings, the University District Farmers' Market's exuberant stands brim with food-lovers enamored with its culinary offerings. When the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA) opened this vibrant marketplace in 1993, a blossoming foodie network began to sprout. Here, award-winning chefs mingle with local vendors and community members each week. Visitors will find hot sellers like wild salmon, squash blossoms, artichokes, and shelling peas, among other tantalizing goods filling the market stalls.

Don't Miss: The market's lively cooking demos. Featured chefs teach attendees how to prepare healthy meals with the bounty of local ingredients found at the market.

[See: Best Cities for Foodies]

5. Davis Farmers Market

Davis, Calif.

College students, locals, and organic-junkies alike can be found rummaging through Davis Farmers Market's stalls on any given Saturday morning or Wednesday afternoon. More than a cluster of simple California produce stands, this festive market boasts a variety of entertainment with Bluegrass music, face painting, and even a rock wall for climbing. When you're not laying out your picnic basket on the grass, try the tasty kiwis, gourmet cheeses, and seckel pears.

Don't Miss: "Picnic in the Park" held on Wednesday evenings. From bluegrass to jazz to folk music, performers keep shoppers entertained as they feast on zesty Indian, Thai, Mexican, and American fare.

Kate Gross / Green City Market [more photos]

4. Green City Market

Chicago, Ill.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, this sprawling market in Lincoln Park bustles with city dwellers. Connecting Chicago residents with a wide range of high-quality locally produced goods, the Green City Market has led the charge to deliver community members healthy and organic products. Every week, more than 50 vendors gather at the market, luring foodies with their apples, asparagus, and fresh tamales.

Don't Miss: The lively Green City Market BBQ in the summertime, which raises money for chefs in the greater Chicago area. You'll also want to check out Green City's monthly tasting series, where chefs teach shoppers cooking tips and techniques.

3. Portland Farmers' Market

Portland, Ore.

On Saturdays, this Portland hot spot crawls with college students, distinguished chefs, and everyday cooks. Occupying a portion of Portland State University's beautiful campus, the plentiful stalls boast delectable ingredients alongside prepared delights, including favorites like Verde Cocina Mexican Food and Pine State Biscuits. Should you be in the "City of Roses" during the week, you can still please your inner foodie by visiting one of Portland Farmers Market's seven weekday locations.

Don't Miss: "Kids Cook at the Market," a lively event at the Saturday market where kids practice their cooking skills for 90 minutes with teachers and students from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland.

2. Union Square Greenmarket

New York City

In a city filled with top chefs, one has to wonder where they find their ingredients. The answer is Union Square Greenmarket, New York's bustling foodie hub that caters to urban gastronomes and top-tier culinary magnates. Teeming with ingredients—from gourmet breads to ostrich eggs—this market has become a landmark of buzzing Union Square. You can roam the market on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but for the best selection, visit on Saturdays, when some 50,000 shoppers flock to the stands.

Don't Miss: Attending weekly cooking demos that typically take place Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Liz Weiss / USNWR [more photos]

1. Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

San Francisco

Given the Bay City's reputation as a leading foodie destination, it probably comes as no surprise that this culinary capital prides itself on its world-renowned (and typically organic) flavors and ingredients. If you’re in pursuit of the finest locally sourced products, it's hard to match Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market's bountiful stalls. The market is filled with more than 80 vendors selling fresh produce, succulent seafood, and artisan creations. The market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but you'll find the best items early on Saturday mornings.

Don't Miss: Attending the Summer Celebration at Ferry Plaza, which features live music, cooking demos, and 39 chefs participating to create flavorful seasonal fare.

[In Pictures: America’s Best Farmers' Markets]

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