Whenever I travel to a new city, I always plan a visit to the local farmers' markets. This may seem odd, especially if you're staying in a hotel room with no hope of cooking a meal, but there are many reasons why the farmers' market is a great stop for the out-of-town visitor!
A farmers' market is more than raw fruits and vegetables.
As we posted about earlier, there are many wonderful and unique gifts and souvenirs sold at farmers' markets. Soaps, jams and pickles, a bottle of olive oil, or some homespun wool are just a few of the non-perishable things you can pick up. I enjoy purchasing cloth bags from the markets I've been to as a memento of my experience.
Still, you could probably use some raw fruits and vegetables.
Traveling often means we either eat too much rich food or too much junk/road/airplane food. Thankfully, there are plenty of delicious, healthy things you can buy at the farmers' market that will keep in your hotel room. Apples, persimmons, a few berries or peaches and plums (in fact, most fruits will be fine and even better out of a refrigerator for a few days) are terrific, as are raw vegetables like carrots, peas, and cucumbers, all of which make nice snacks. You can even get some olive oil to dip that baguette into!
A farmers' market is as good as a museum.
Markets are a gathering place for people, so they're excellent microcosms of the area. You can learn a lot about a place, its people and their values, its climate, history, and politics by attending a market. Many markets have card tables set up with petitions and fliers for local politicians and causes, and most have information booths where you can learn more about the market. And I think some farmers must be frustrated artists because I've seen a lot of market displays that are as beautiful as any painting in a museum!
Farmers' markets are just plain fun.
If you enjoy food, then you'll probably enjoy a good farmers' market. It's fun to see local produce and compare different names for things, and discover new tastes and sometimes entirely new fruits and vegetables. Markets often have prepared food, too, so they're a good place to have lunch or dinner, perhaps even accompanied by some local music. And the people-watching is superb!
• Farmers' Market Guide: 20 Cities from Coast to Coast
• The Top 10 Outdoor Food Markets from National Geographic
• What Kind of Food Do You Look for On Vacation?
(Image: Cambria Bold)