Why: Some of the state’s most accomplished farmers rise before dawn on Wednesday mornings and drive as much as 200 miles, just so they can set up and sell at this market. One reason: The Santa Monica Farmers Market draws some of Southern California’s most decorated (and discriminating) chefs. And the market venue happens to be a tomato toss away from the beach, a cucumber roll from the scores of shops and restaurants along the Third Street Promenade.
What: About 75 farmers set up stalls along a few blocks of Arizona Avenue, which is closed to vehicles on market mornings. If you’re coming by car, you’ll have to cope with nasty traffic and parking, even at 8:30 a.m., but once you’re afoot, life is good. In late fall, you’ll likely find dates from Mecca, apples from Cuyama, persimmons from Fallbrook, pluots from Kingsbug, oranges from Ojai, mushrooms from La Habra Heights. Consider this a reminder that for all its glitz, California remains an agricultural powerhouse. And even if you’re not going to bite into that persimmon, you’ll feel the sea breeze and hear the banjo player at Arizona and 2nd, or maybe the guitarist a block to the east.
The market was born in 1981, and the stampede of kitchen professionals began soon after. Noting that close relationship between growers and chefs, Saveur magazine in 2016 labeled this “L.A.’s best farmers market.”