Farmers markets are a long lasting tradition for areas with an abundance of agriculture and natural resources. If you grew up in one of these areas, you might remember going to the weekend market with your parents when you were a kid.
I remember piling into the family car and fighting my brother for the passenger side window, because that was the best spot to catch the first glimpse of the tarp tents and street-spanning banners. My brother and I would run off on our own, allotted ten dollars of freedom, to browse the stands and dance around the buskers. My favorite was always the stand that sold little wooden whittled puppets, but I usually spent my money on flavored honey sticks from the local beekeeper.
Once everyone knew our faces and got tired of our raised voices, we would find a splintered, grey-worn picnic table and share the lunch that my parents had responsibly spent their money on. I shared my honey sticks, but only a couple. I remember our trips home were always warm and sleepy, and our feet were cramped between the paper bags of local goodies. I’m sure that many Washingtonians have vivid memories like mine, but if you don’t, there are plenty of places to make them.
Pike Place Market
The largest and most notorious farmers market in Western Washington is the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Any trip to the Emerald City (tourist and local alike) isn’t complete without a carefree picture in front of Pike Place’s neon red sign with a carefully arranged bouquet of flowers that is fit for a wedding ceremony. Bonus points if you take another picture in the Great Wheel afterward.
Jokes aside, the market is home to longstanding, proud, Seattle-based businesses and is bustling year-round. Pikes Place is lively and ever-changing; the perfect blend of nostalgia and hip Seattle vibes. Busker’s voices bounce off of the brick alley walls, interrupted by shouts from fishmongers who draw in crowds for their fish acrobatics shows. The whole block smells like pastries, fish, and flowers, and coffee in the best way possible. No matter how many times you visit it always feels the same, but you can always find something new. It’s fitting for a place like Seattle to be famous for a farmers market, but Pike Place is not the only farmers market worth visiting on the West side.
Ballard Farmers Market
Another popular farmers market in Seattle is the Ballard farmers market, hosted by the Seattle Farmers Market Association. This market meets on Sundays before 2pm, and it halts almost all traffic through downtown Ballard. Ballard Way and 22nd Ave are packed shoulder-to-shoulder, weaving through families and groups of bearded men to get a glimpse of the next stand. Most of the time a stand’s products aren’t obvious until you’re directly in front of it, which makes this farmers market a perfect all day activity.
All of the businesses pull their storefronts out onto the sidewalk, and food trucks provide a diverse platter of lunch offerings. The smell rising from the food trucks hits you a few blocks away, and by the time you can finally see the source your stomach is growling. Pubs and breweries that line the street give a whole new meaning to day drinking, and in combination with the amount of dogs out and about it’s almost too much fun to handle.
While I’ve only visited those two in the Seattle area, almost every town, city, and settlement in Western Washington has a scale version of what Pike Place and the Ballard Market have to offer. This area has an overabundance of fishing, farms, orchards, and creatives. So no matter where you find yourself, you’re likely to see tarp tents and hear folk music traipsing its way down a city block.
Farmers Markets In your Area
I’ve found that for the most part the farmers markets in big cities feature more creatives, small businesses, and breweries/distilleries, while the more rural ones host more farmers, orchards, and beekeepers. While both areas have a great mix of all of these, that seems to be the general rule. Here is a list of every farmers market I could find in the greater Seattle area, along with the days and times that they meet.
North of Seattle:
Bothell Market – June-Sep, Fridays, 3-7pm
Park Ridge Community Market – June-Sep, Wednesdays, 4-8pm
Snohomish Farmers Market – May-Sep, Thursdays 3-7pm
Mukilteo Farmers Market – June-Sep, Wednesdays, 3-7 pm
Shoreline Farmers Market – June-Oct, Saturdays, 10am-2pm
Lake City Farmers Market – Seasonal, Thursdays, 3-7pm
Phinney Farmers Market – Seasonal, Fridays, 3-7pm
Wallingford Farmers Market – May-Sept, Wednesdays, 3-7pm
University District Farmers Market – Saturdays, 9am-2pm
Ballard Farmers Market – Sundays, 9am-2pm
Fremont Sunday Market – Sundays, 11am-4pm
Queen Anne Farmers Market – May-Oct, Thursdays, 3-7:30pm
South Lake Union Saturday Market – June-Oct, Saturdays, 11am-4pm
Capitol Hill Farmers Market – Sundays, 11am-3pm
Pike Place Market – 9am-5pm
Madrona Farmers Market – May-Oct, 3-7pm
City Hall Farmers Market – June-Oct, Tuesdays, 10am-2pm
West Seattle Farmers Market – Sundays, 10am-2pm
Columbia City Farmers Market – Wednesdays, 3-7pm
Woodinville Farmers Market – May-Sep, Saturdays, 9am-3pm
Kirkland Wednesday Market – June-Oct, Wednesdays, 3-7pm
Redmond Saturday Market – May-Sep, Saturdays, 10am
Bellevue Farmers Market – June-Oct, Thursdays, 3-7pm
Crossroads Bellevue Farmers Market – June-Oct, Tuesdays, 12-6pm
Sammamish Farmers Market – May-Sep, Wednesdays, 4-8pm
Issaquah Farmers Market – June-Oct, Saturdays, 9am-2pm
South of Seattle:
Renton Farmers Market – June-Sep, Tuesdays, 3-7pm
Tukwila Village Farmers Market – June-Oct, Wednesdays, 4-7pm
Burien Farmers Market – Thursdays, 10am-4pm