8 Area Farmers Markets That Are Worth the Trip
One of the best things about summertime in the Midwest is the farmers markets, and you don’t have to go far to find one in Chicago, Michigan, Indiana or Wisconsin. From Garfield Park Neighborhood Market at The Hatchery, Andersonville Farmers Market or 95th Street Farmers Market in Beverly, there are dozens and dozens of options. Each one is unique.
Nosh on freshly picked strawberries, drink a craft beer or freshly squeezed lemonade, or have a tamale while wandering vendor stalls selecting organic produce and listening to live music.
Whether you stay local or take a road trip, here are a few farmers markets you won’t want to miss.
There’s a reason Green City Market is one of the largest farmers markets in Chicago and has a cult-like following. Open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, this farmers market (1817 N. Clark) offers a showcase of dozens of local, sustainable farmers and producers. It’s also where a lot of chefs and restaurant buyers do their wholesale shopping.
Get everything from local honey and beeswax candles from Chicago Honey Co-op to Mint Creek Farm’s grass-fed meats (like lamb spare ribs, filet mignon and boar’s belly) from animals raised on an organic farm. Buy heirloom produce, eggs, cheeses and microgreens. Nosh on delicious pastries while perusing technicolor flower stalls. Purchase organic plants from Matt’s Urban Garden or buy fresh produce from Growing Home, a nonprofit in Englewood, that’s home to the first USDA-certified organic farm in Chicago and offers previously incarcerated and homeless individuals workforce development.
This market offers two locations, Grant Park (Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt) 4-8 p.m. on Thursdays and Printers Row (632 S. Dearborn St.) from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Its mantra: “celebrating the community one beet at a time.”
Grab a vegan donut from Donutistry, a Filipino pastry from Tropicake Chicago or an empanada from Baskethouse or Jonny Empanada. There’s an assortment of flavors, from Scandinavian-inspired unique Juusto “baked cheese” by the Baked Cheese Haus or the Blooming Baker’s homemade desserts topped with edible flowers. There are places to buy fruits and vegetables and plenty of ready-to-eat options including food trucks like the Sausage Fest and Happy Lobster Truck. You can also get your bicycle repaired by Curbside Bicycles.
Head to the northern suburbs for this early bird Sunday farmers market. Voted “Best on the North Shore” by North Shore Magazine, this farmers market (5127 Oakton St., Skokie, Illinois) runs 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Get a tamale from the Tamale Express, mushrooms from River Valley Ranch and Kitchens, pasture-raised beef and free-range eggs from Finn’s Steak and Eggs Ranch, and chocolates from The Naked Truffle. Stop by Mindful Baking for gluten-free and vegan donuts, cakes and muffins that come in biodegradable packaging.
A rotation of farmers are showcased here including Six Generations Farm, Ellis Family Farm and The Talking Farm. Visit McHenry County-based Patyk Farms stall to get handmade goat’s or cow’s milk soap, farm fresh eggs and homegrown produce.
This dog- and family-friendly market (1425 N. Damen Ave.) offers more than most. You’ll find a rotation of pop-up vendors and products made with “pure and simple ingredients” at this Sunday hot spot.
Look for niche products like the Pickled Prince’s onion jam that chef Brian Greene launched during Covid and sourced with ingredients from a downstate farm. Relax on a yoga mat and attend one of the hour-long kid’s story time programs or do a guided meditation with Curación Yoga Collective. This outdoor market runs 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. May thru October.
There’s a reason many people make the Wheaton French Market a Saturday morning ritual. This downtown spot (250 S. Naperville Rd., Wheaton) in the western suburbs, offers shade, selection and family fun. Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., you’ll find the usual farmers market offerings of fruit and vegetables as well as clothing, flowers, apple cider donuts, kettle corn, soaps, olive oils, loose leaf teas, empanadas, jewelry and baked goods.
Grab farm-fresh eggs, pasture-raised chicken, breakfast sausage, bacon and pork chops from Elburn-based Rustic Road Farm or a pastry from French-inspired Suzette’s Creperie. The market runs April-October with limited hours in November.
Photo via enjoyillinois.com
With more than 100 vendors, many (including the Chicago Reader) have voted this the best farmers market in the city. Open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., this Sunday market (3025-3113 W Logan Blvd.) offers more than most.
Eat an arancini from Sfera Sicilian Street Food, snag a bagel and babka from Zeitlin’s Delicatessen, a Jewish-style deli, or a natural pet treat from Mushyface Cookie Co. or heirloom produce from Michigan-based Frillman Farms. Get organic microgreens, wheatgrass and knife sharpening from American Pride MicroFarm which has a farm in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Listen to live music and take kids to the Little Pea Kids Club which offers monthly activities from scavenger hunts to painting with fruits and vegetables.
Photo via Logan Squarist
From downtown Chicago, make the hour and 20-minute drive (depending on traffic) to this open-air farmers market in New Buffalo, Michigan. Sip and shop the stalls with a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine in hand while noshing on a steakburger, prime rib sandwich, brats, hot dogs or seared vegetables that come straight off the grill.
Skip’s European Farmers Market is held every Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. from May – early October in the parking lot of Skip’s Restaurant and Catering Steakhouse (16710 Lakeshore Rd., New Buffalo, Michigan).
Listen to live music and peruse the rotation of fruits and vegetables. (Use Michigan State’s Michigan Produce Availability Chart as your guide for what’s in-season.)
You’ll find handcrafted artisanal cheeses, organic produce, fresh flowers, wagyu beef, Italian sausages, honey, coffee, pastries, meat rubs, maple syrup, jams, jellies and salsas, alongside jewelry, clothing and homemade soaps. Stop by the “fashion truck” that’s stocked with women’s clothing and accessories from Indian Summer Boutique.
Plenty of other Harbor Country area attractions will allow you to enjoy a full day or weekend on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore.
Photo via Skips
Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s well worth the 2-hour drive from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Dane County Farmers Market, the largest producer-only farmers market in the country. It won’t disappoint.
More than 275 vendors showcase their produce, meats, and of course cheeses (this is Wisconsin!) here. Spend “Saturday on the Square” from 6:15 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. at the Wisconsin State Capital (2 E. Main, St. Madison, Wisconsin) or go Wednesdays (8:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. at the 200 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.).
Vendors like Shooting Star Farm sell certified organic cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and radishes. Others, like Xiong’s Tasty Produce, sell everything from bok choy and brussels sprouts to melon, strawberries, kale and cantaloupe. Grab artisanal sourdough bread, granola and whole grain scones from health-focused Wood Street Bakery or buy a basil plant and fresh flowers. Future Fruit Farm specializes in organic antique and exotic varieties of pears, apples and plums, as well as jellies, jams and pastries. Before heading back home with your treats, stop by the Union Patio on the UW-Madison campus and enjoy yourself some live music and a Spotted Cow beer while taking in the view of Lake Mendota.