Best Seattle-area farmers markets for a family excursion
Editor's note: Updated May 15, 2019
Going to a farmers market is the most fun you can have with your kids and still end up coming home with groceries. Here are three reasons to visit your neighborhood farmers market:
Not only are there tables piled high with fresh crops from local farmers, there are also great street food vendors, so you can grab lunch or a snack while you are there. And that's not counting the fruits and vegetables that are consumed on the way home. Watch your kid get a sudden appetite for donut peaches, snap peas or some other seasonal treat. Even though you might have had plans to have some to eat later, it's hard to argue with your child eating too many fresh fruits or vegetables. And if you are in a recipe rut, a spontaneous buy at a farmer's market table is a great way to liven your routine and discover new tastes.
Vendors tend to work several markets, so you are likely to run into your favorite people in a variety of places. Some good ones: Collins Family Orchards for apples in fall and winter and cherries in spring, Alvarez Organic Farm in late summer offers an impressive variety of squash, eggplant and peppers. Nash's Organic Produce and Growing Washington always have lush displays of seasonal vegetables. Sidhu Farms has delicious berries and jam. And the frozen treats at Seattle Pops are wonderful on a hot day.
In an era where far too much of our social interaction takes place via glowing screens, it is refreshing to have an event that causes random groups of people to gather. Not only will your kids have the chance to chat with the people who grew their food, they will also run into neighbors, former classmates, sports teammates or old friends they don't see often enough. There is usually a puppy or two to greet, and an array of strangers dressed in extraordinary ways.
There are also formal community-building things going on. University of Washington Cooperative Extension has master gardeners at tables at many farmers markets, where they can answer your gardening questions. There are earnest public servants spreading the word about the latest housing, transit or environmental policy.
Every busy market has buskers playing acoustic tunes spanning all manner of genres. Alongside the farmers, there are artisans selling their colorful creations. And there are sometimes kids' activities. For example, in August several farmers markets host "zucchini races," in which kids race cars they make by attaching wooden wheels to summer squash, provided by farmers.
Here's a list of Seattle's farmers markets. And Puget Sound Fresh has a map and a list including markets outside Seattle proper. Some are compact, some are sprawling, and they all draw on the same group of vendors, who go from market to market.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays22nd Ave NW and NW Market St
Setting: A couple of closed-off city streets.
Convenient to: Ballard, Northwest Seattle
Unless it is raining, this big Sunday street market is crowded, with people sitting on curbs to eat lunches, if they can find a spot between the many buskers.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. SaturdaysUniversity Way NE between 50th & 52nd
Setting: A closed-off city street.
Convenient to: University of Washington, Northeast Seattle
Like the Ballard market, this is a big market, but it has more space and a calmer vibe.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. SundaysCalifornia Ave SW & SW Alaska
Setting: Closed-off streets.
Convenient to: West Seattle
Another big, bustling, neighborhood market. West Seattle regulates busking a little more tightly than Ballard does, keeping performers to designated spots, for example, and so while you can expect musical accompaniment on a nice day, it won't be quite the free-for-all you'd find going on in the other market.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. SundaysBroadway Ave E and E Pine St
Setting: The brick plaza and sidewalk near Seattle Central College
Convenient to: Capitol Hill, Cal Anderson Park, light rail
Some neighborhood farmers markets are temporary landmarks, dropping a nugget of activity and color in an otherwise tranquil neighborhood. Capitol Hill farmers market is more like some activity and color to match all the other activity and color in its vibrant surroundings. As a shopping experience, it's mellow — plenty of produce and treats, but not a lot of crowds and buskers.
June through November 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, better selection Saturdays.Pike Place and Pine St
Setting: The cobblestones in front of the main Pike Place Market building, otherwise known as tourism central.
The sprawling and eclectic downtown shopping experience that is Pike Place Market got its start in 1907, as a spot where local farmers gathered to sell to city dwellers. The farmers' market still continues. You can find farmers selling their wares on the cobblestones any day of the week, but the big day for Farmers markets is Saturdays.
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, May 8 through Oct. 937th Ave S & S Edmunds St
Setting: Closed-off city street.
Convenient to: Light rail, Columbia City, Southeast Seattle
This medium-sized market has buskers and kids activities and is a packed neighborhood hub through the summer.
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, June 6 through Oct. 3NE 125th St and 28th Ave NE
Setting: In front of a community center, next door to a library and a park.
Convenient to: Lake City, Matthews Beach
This medium-sized market is well set to enhance the summer of neighborhood kids. The Seattle Public Library's Lake City branch, situated next door, runs story times at the market at 4:30 p.m., followed by activities for kids. Plus, kids can let off steam at the playground in next door Albert Davis Park.
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, May 17 through mid-OctoberMartin Luther King, Jr. Way and E. Union St.
Setting: Parking lot of Madrona Grocery Outlet
Convenient to: Central District, Madrona
A medium-sized market and social hub for families on Friday evenings.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, June 1 through Nov 23.33rd Ave W and W McGraw St
Setting: Closed-off street
A small and mellow market with a devoted neighborhood following.
3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Fridays, June 7 through Sept. 27N 67th St and Phinney Ave N
Setting: Upper parking lot of Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center
If the weather is decent, this medium-sized market will be packed. The nearby Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center has a fun playground.
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, May 30 through Oct. 10W Crockett St and Queen Anne Ave N
Setting: Closed-off street, parking lot of Queen Anne Pool.
Convenient to: Queen Anne Pool, Queen Anne
This busy, medium-sized market is the only farmers market in Seattle that is not part of one of three larger entities: Pike Place Market, the Seattle Farmers Market Association (which runs Ballard, Madrona and Wallingford markets) or Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets. Instead, this market is proudly independent, and works with a board of people from the neighborhood.
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, May 15 through late SeptemberMeridian Playground, Meridian Ave. N and N 50th St
Convenient to: Wallingford, Green Lake
This medium-sized market is situated in a spacious park, featuring a fine playground, a gazebo, a thriving P-Patch, and an orchard dating from the beginning of the 20th century. It is very pleasant to eat market treats on the lawn, in the shade of a century-old fruit tree.
1o a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, May 28 through Oct. 8600 4th Ave
Setting: City Plaza
Convenient to: Central Library, Downtown YMCA, Downtown
This is one of four small satellite markets that Pike Place Market runs around the urban core. The timing is directed at a lunch crowd of downtown workers, but if your summer wanderings take you to, say, the Central Library, this is an ideal spot to stop for a snack or lunch.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, May 28 through Sept. 24Seventh Avenue and Lenora St
Setting: The plaza in front of the Amazon Spheres
Convenient to: That frenzied, traffic-plagued area north of downtown sometimes known as Amazonia.
Denny Regrade is one of four small satellite markets Pike Place Market runs for downtown lunch crowds — in this case, Amazon workers.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays, May 31 through Sept. 27Ninth Ave and University St
Setting: Plaza at Virginia Mason Medical Center
Convenient to: Virginia Mason, First Hill
One of four small satellite markets Pike Place Market runs around the urban core. This one is at First Hill, sometimes known as "Pill Hill" because it has a cluster of hospitals and other medical facilities. If you have to go to Pill Hill on a summer Friday for an appointment or to visit a loved one, a stop at the farmers market is a great addition to your day.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, May 30 through Oct. 10410 Terry Ave N
Setting: Urban plaza
This is one of four small markets Pike Place Market holds in spots around the urban core, directed at an office lunch crowd — in this case, Amazon workers.