The Best San Diego Area Farmers’ Markets with Perks for Kids

farmers' market produceAmerica’s finest city is home to so many farmers’ markets that chances are your neighborhood hosts a quaint one of its very own. They range in size from a simple row of stalls with local vendors to taking over several street blocks or entire DMV lots – we’re looking at you Little Italy and Hillcrest – but sometimes it feels like you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. An outing to the farmers’ market can be fun for kids, yet at some point getting them to hop on board might prove to be a challenge.

“You get to meet the farmers who grow your food!” When that phrase starts to lose its luster, and you really like buying your produce directly from local farmers, what’s a family to do? The next time you find yourself running low on kale, stop by one of these farmers’ markets that offer a little something extra for the little ones.

Imperial Beach Certified Farmers’ Market
For San Diego moms and dads who work during regular business hours, most neighborhood farmers’ markets run midweek and are breaking down by the time you hit evening traffic. Thankfully, the IB market runs every Friday from noon until 7:30 pm (noon to 6:00 pm in winter), giving you just enough time to grab the kids and head down to enjoy some street food by the pier. Picnic tables on the grassy area mean you don’t have to eat on the run. This market offers an ocean backdrop, a playground a few blocks down the street, and a tot lot with spring riders right in the middle of the market stalls. Parking: One small lot fills quickly, so park on any of the residential streets along Seacoast Drive.

10 Evergreen Ave
Imperial Beach, Ca

IB tot lot

Rancho San Diego Farmers’ Market
A bit on the small side, locals still love this Saturday market (9:00 am to 2:00 pm) because it features the essentials mixed with crafts and unusual street food, such as Belgian Liege waffles and Filipino snacks. Enjoy your goodies at the shaded tables provided by the management. Speaking of which, a non-profit charity runs the market, and all proceeds from managing it go to helping disadvantaged members of the community. Plus, they have a basket with small toys available for the kiddos to grab one on their way into the market. After shopping, be sure to stop by the Water Conservation Garden, which you can access through the back entrance near the amphitheater. Here the little ones can spot birds and butterflies and are encouraged to touch and smell the plants! Parking: You’ll find plenty of spots on a large lot, as the market is located on the Cuyamaca College campus.

900 Rancho San Diego Parkway
El Cajon, Ca

Water Conservation Garden

Ocean Beach Certified Farmers’ Market
This market is also known as OB’s “Wednesday Night Out” because in summer it runs from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (until 7:00 pm in winter) so the whole family can enjoy a midweek evening out together. It’s one of the larger markets and offers a much wider variety of produce in addition to street food vendors. At the market’s entrance, you’ll find a bouncy house for the kids as well as opportunities for face painting and balloon animals. For the grownups, check out a different live band each week. Tip: This market gets very crowded, making it difficult for strollers to maneuver through the aisles. Bring along a baby carrier to make life a little easier. Parking: You won’t find any nearby lots, so street parking it is.

4900 block of Newport Ave (between Cable & Bacon St)
Ocean Beach, Ca

OB farmers' market

Scripps Ranch Farmers Market
For North County moms and dads who find it tricky to make it anywhere south of the 52, look no further than the market in Scripps Ranch. Stop by on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm for unique treats like Danish pancakes served with local Jackie’s Jams or “boba” tea drinks, which you can enjoy at the covered tables. For the little ones, send them on a treasure hunt! The task is to look for a stuffed penguin, just waiting to be spotted at one of the booths. When your babe finds the critter, he or she gets a ticket to redeem a prize from the treasure chest at the information booth. Face painting and balloon animals are also available near the entrance. Of note: This market also gives back to the community by directly donating proceeds to a local school. Plus, it’s the only market to offer a loyalty program. (Inquire at the info booth.) Parking: No need to worry about circling around for street parking, as there is a large lot on site.

10380 Spring Canyon Rd
San Diego, Ca

Poway Farmers’ Market
Another option for North County families (and early risers) is this market located in historic Old Poway Park. Every Saturday from 8:00 am to 11:30 am, rain or shine, you’ll find local Eben-Haezer eggs – get there early for the eggs from pastured chickens because they go fast – and an array of local produce. Perhaps the most awesome part of the market is its location. Old Poway Park features a real steam locomotive with rides around the small park for $2.50/adult and $0.50/child (only on the 2nd Saturday and 1st and 3rd weekends of the month), the Nelson house museum, and blacksmith demos (1st and 3rd Saturdays from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm). After a ride on the train, the kids will be begging you to come back to the Poway farmers’ market! Parking: You can easily find a spot in the gravel lot across from the market.

14134 Midland Rd
Poway, Ca

Old Poway Park

What’s your favorite San Diego area farmers’ market?

Copy and Photos by: Amanda Freerksen