Got a human alarm clock that wakes you up at 6:00 am on Saturday mornings?  You’ll be surprised to know that Target and Mcdonald’s aren’t the only ones that open at 8:00 am.  Let the kids explore the local farmer’s markets!  They can run around, be themselves, and learn a thing or two about seasonal veggies and fruits.   They’ll love sampling the sweet, ripe strawberries and peaches, checking out hand made crafts, tasting freshly popped kettle corn, and licking the tasty homemade pita and hummus.  But beware; once the little ones have farmer’s markets produce, they won’t go back to store bought.  Be sure to visit these locally certified farmer’s markets in Orange County. Certified means they are inspected by the county’s agricultural commissioner to make sure the product is legitimately grown by the vendor so you know you are getting the real thing for your little ones.

UCI Farmer’s Market
In the parking lot of the University of Irvine’s Towne Center, this farmer’s market is one of the bigger ones in the area with a wide variety of vendors selling fresh veggies and produce to Italian ice and fair trade handcrafted baskets from Africa.  Grass fed beef that is raised in Orange County is also a star commodity here.  You can just about find anything you need for your upcoming weekly home-cooked meals.  If you’re looking for quick dinner ideas, pick up some homemade tamales, sausages, and hummus with freshly baked pitas or some freshly baked baguettes and pastries from The Blackmarket Bakery.

Bridge Road and Campus Drive
Irvine, Ca 92697
Saturdays, 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

SOCO Farmer’s Market at OC Mart Mix
Weren’t able to catch the UCI Farmer’s Market that ended at noon?  No worries, just drive on up to the SOCO Farmer’s Market.  It’s not as big as the UCI Farmer’s Market, but it holds its share of food trucks and fresh produce.  Also the perfect opportunity to check out the OC Mart Mix, the up and coming hip place to do some retail therapy.  They offer an eclectic array of specialty boutiques along with fabulous hand dripped coffee from the Portola Lab as well as a Cheese Shop with fabulous Iberico Jamon and provolone cheese sandwiches. 

3313 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, Ca 92626
Saturdays, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

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The Great Park Farmer’s Market
It’s a party every Sunday with music, food and entertainment.  Plenty of food trucks to satisfy any craving, this farmer’s market is the perfect one stop shopping mecca.  Grab your fresh, organic produce for the week while lunching a gourmet food truck meal and have the little ones take a ride on the free giant orange balloon and carousel.

Sand Canyon and Marine Drive
Irvine, Ca
Sundays, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Orange County Fair and Exposition Center Farmer’s Market
Weren’t able to make the weekend farmer’s markets? All hope is not lost! Bring your early bird kindergarteners to the OC Fair Farmer’s Market!  Let the little ones unwind after school with a gourmet snack from one of the largest food truck roundups on a weekday afternoon, and you’ll be able to pick up fresh, organic produce to boot.  High five.

88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, Ca 92626
Thursdays, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market
Pick up some picnic items on your way to the beach.  Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach, this is the perfect quick stop for healthy nuts, fruits and veggies to fuel your little beach bums.  Only street parking is available so be sure to get there early to beat the crowds.

Lumberyard Parking Lot next to City Hall
500 Forest Avenue
Laguna Beach, Ca
Saturdays, 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Did we miss one of your favorite markets? Let us know, and tell us about why your kids love exploring the farmer’s markets!

–Sommy Rhee (Thanks for the pics Sommy!!)