Bright sunshine, stands overflowing with fresh produce, street musicians strumming and singing—Santa Monica’s four city-run farmers' markets are like perfect pop-up festivals in the heart of the city. Each of the year-round, rain or shine market locations has its own unique charms, but they all feature only fruits and veggies that were grown without pesticides, and all sourced directly from the farm where it was grown. Live music is also featured at many of the locations.
The Saturday market in Virginia Avenue Park, called the Pico Market (the park is at the corner of Pico Blvd. and Cloverfield Blvd.), features about 35 farmers selling produce picked the day before, and is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There’s picnicking on the lawn, and prepared food vendors serve coffee and breakfast items.
On Sundays, the Main Street market in Heritage Square has produce but also a very active prepared foods area as well, with such offerings as breakfast burritos, crepes, pancakes, pastries, and other baked goodies. There are bi-weekly cooking demonstrations and activities to keep the kids happy, like face painting and balloon art.
The longest-running of Santa Monica’s markets are the ones held on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Downtown Santa Monica, on Arizona Ave. at 2nd St. First opened in 1981, it’s where area shoppers and chefs go to find both staples and more exotic seasonal items. With around 75 farmers selling, the Wednesday market is one of the largest in Southern California; the Saturday market hosts about 50 farmers selling.
Insider tip: Wednesday Farmers' Markets are when many Santa Monica chefs do their produce shopping for the week (after they finish surfing that morning). Coast, Fig, LAGO, and Ocean & Vine, and other fine restaurants typically craft their menus on Wednesdays and Saturdays around what they pick up fresh that day at the market.