One of the many perks of living in San Diego is having year-round access to a bounty of local fruits and vegetables. So it’s no surprise that on any given day you can can stumble upon a market that’s bustling with farmers and local artisans peddling their freshly-picked or home-made goods. You may be thinking this this sounds great for the lucky ones who can leisurely roll out of bed and stroll down to the farmers market with their reusable tote slung over their shoulder. But not so amazing for a young family with an overly-energetic toddler and a double-wide stroller. But think again! We’ve rounded up the most kid-friendly farmers markets in San Diego the entire family will enjoy.
Photo credit: Leah Singer
Ocean Beach Certified Farmers Market
This market is also known as OB’s “Wednesday Night Out” because in the summer it runs from 4 – 8 p.m. (until 7 p.m. 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.
Insider’s Tip: Although this market is family-friendly, it gets very crowded, making it difficult for strollers to maneuver through the aisles. Bring along a baby carrier to make life a little easier. You won’t find any parking in nearby lots, so plan for street parking.
4900 block of Newport Ave. (between Cable and Bacon St.)
Ocean Beach, CA
Photo credit: La Jolla Village Open Aire Market Facebook Page
La Jolla Farmers Market
You know a farmers market is going to be kid-friendly when all of its proceeds go to benefit the neighborhood elementary school. That’s just the case with La Jolla’s Open Aire Market. The market was originally started by a former mom from La Jolla Elementary School and a community activist in 1998 in order to help fund a library for the elementary school and has since grew into a vibrant weekly community event, now with more than 150 vendors. Every Sunday, the upper playground at La Jolla Elementary is transformed into a colorful, friendly and wholesome farmers market with live music, creative artisans, diverse food court, and local fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. When the kiddos need a break from scooping up berries and taste-testing melons, they can run and play on grass fields.
Insider’s Tip: In addition to live music every Sunday, there are free family activities every third Sunday (unless noted) from September through May.
La Jolla Elementary School (upper playground)
Corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street
La Jolla, CA
Photo credit: Scripps Ranch Farmers Market website
Scripps Ranch Farmers Market
This North County farmers market prides itself on being a one-stop shop and welcomes families to shop with their kiddos every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Eager to make little market-goers happy, they offer face painting and balloon animals at the front entrance. We applaud them for this, since we know making a first impression on discerning toddlers is crucial! A treasure hunt is also offered to excite the pint-sized shoppers. The hunt includes finding the always present stuffed penguin as he makes his way from booth to booth. And even-though it’s a farmers market loaded with healthy fruits and veggies, Scripps Ranch offers unique treats that are slightly more indulgent, like Danish pancakes served with local Jackie’s Jams (yes, please!). Enjoy your pancakes and other purchased goodies while sitting at covered tables. On the way out, be sure to join their loyalty program by inquiring at that the info booth.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t sweat the parking. There’s usually plenty of spots on the street or available in the large lot onsite.
10380 Spring Canyon Rd.
San Diego, CA
Photo credit: Leah Singer
North Park Farmers Market
North Park Farmers Market is under new management and there’s tons of fun changes being made. The market is open every Thursday from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. and is striving to be a neighborhood spot where families can meet up, discover something new and delicious, and enjoy live music. The market currently hosts about 40 vendors and is continuing to grow. If you’re in central San Diego and want to check out an old market with a new twist, stop by The North Park Farmers Market.
Between University and North Park Way (behind CVS)
San Diego, CA
Photo credit Leucadia Farmers Market Website
Leucadia Farmers Market
If you’re like us, you’re up early on Sundays (and Mondays – Saturdays too). So you may need a second breakfast by the time the Leucadia Farmers Market opens at 10 a.m. Luckily, they serve breakfast and lunch in their food court area. Once you’ve fed the kids and scoffed down some of their local artisan fare, enjoy browsing the more than 75 vendor booths, brimming with amazing flowers, plants and fresh produce including a large Certified Organic Section. You and the kiddos will also find specialty foods like baked goods, beef, seafood, marinades, pastas, and sauces. If the little ones need a change of scenery, visit the large, fenced in children’s playground or take them to hear some live music. Balloon twisting and face painting is also available.
Insider’s Tip: Street parking is at a premium, but you can find additional free spots 75 yards North on Vulcan at Sierra Padre Doors.
185 Union Street, Encinitas, CA (at Paul Ecke Elementary School)}
Photo credit: Leah Singer
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 a.m. – 1 p.m. (rain or shine), you’ll find an array of produce, including local Eben-Haezer eggs (get there early for the eggs from pastured chickens because they go fast). 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 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.). After a ride on the train, the kids will be begging you to come back to the Poway farmers market!
Insider’s Tip: You can easily find parking in the gravel lot across from the market.
14134 Midland Rd.
Did we miss any of your favorite kid-friendly farmer’s markets? If so, please let us know in the comments.
— Aimee Della Bitta