Ah, summer. The season where we all debate the merits of quitting our job so that we can spend every possible second by a pool or at a picnic. Although we can’t recommend abandoning your professional commitments, we do know the key to a perfect summer party or picnic: fresh food from a farmers market. Read on to find out the best places in Chicago to unleash your inner locavore and take your picnic game to a whole new level. After all, shopping at a grocery store is so last December.
Logan Square won the title of Chicago’s best farmers market in 2016 and they’re not about to start slacking. This friendly market is known to sell everything from humanely raised meats to gourmet ginger beer and the vendors often offer free samples, so you always know the quality you’re getting. Many vendors also accept SNAP payments and food stamps as part of the market’s mission to make conscientiously grown local foods available to all, regardless of income level. Throw in live music, a pet-friendly environment, and special community events, and you got yourself a market that will chase all the Sunday scaries away.
What could brighten up your midweek more than a bag full of locally grown veggies and a freshly baked Swedish pastry? Oh, perhaps some free samples and unparalleled dog watching. This Wednesday night market has a community feel that’s hard to beat, and with tons of veg-friendly and gluten-free options, everyone will feel invited to the party. Expect to weave your way through lots of strollers and leashes; this is Andersonville after all.
Although this market is quite small, the friendly vendors and delicious Pilsen flavor make it worth a stop. Bring cash and eat an authentic quesadilla or tamale while you browse hyper-local vendors and enjoy live music and family-friendly cultural events. The market is also known for having everyone’s favorite: free and easy street parking! Make a day out of it by heading to the National Museum of Mexican Art post-shopping.
Plant Chicago’s market takes local to the next level, selling many farm and food products in the same space where they’re produced. Each Saturday, the market brings together vendors selling produce, jewelry, coffee, and more, along with special events like cooking demos and fermentation workshops. Market visitors can also take public tours of The Plant, a former meat-packing plant in Back of Yards that has been transformed into a closed-loop food production center. Educational and delicious? Your mom would approve.
Have a burning need for organic Ayurvedic cleaning supplies or chilled nitro coffee served from a bike? Look no further. On the smaller side, Wicker Park’s market is known for delicious cheese and plentiful flower options, making it an excellent date spot for the Birkenstock-wearing crowd. Street parking can be hard to come by so get your green transportation on.
A true mecca of the farmers market world, Green City’s Lincoln Park market operates seasonally on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the south end of Lincoln Park. Although the market’s location along the park makes it perfect for enjoying a morning outdoors, driving and parking can be a nightmare. With over 50 vendors on Saturdays (and 30 on Wednesdays), you can find anything your farm-fresh-loving heart could ever desire—plus it’s all rigorously local and certified organic, too!