On a recent Saturday morning at Eastern Market in Detroit, busking musicians filled the air with jazz as vendors finished setting up for the day’s traffic. Shoppers streamed in, sizing up winter produce, relishes and chutneys, fresh cuts of beef and more.
Though farmers’ markets are usually associated with warm months and lush fruits and vegetables, Eastern Market and others like it across the country are becoming cold-weather travel destinations as they add artisanal goods, entertainment and indoor experiences like the cooking classes the Detroit market has sometimes offered during the cold months.
Some, like the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles, the Detroit market and the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, have been in business for so long that shopping, restaurant and entertainment neighborhoods have cropped up around them, creating urban ecosystems worthy of winter weekend getaways.
“There is now a whole destination associated with the markets themselves, and often their events are unique to the communities they serve,” said Ben Feldman, the executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a nonprofit organization for markets across the United States. Take, for example, the Commissioner’s Cup BBQ Cook-Off and Festival at the South Carolina State Farmers Market, which happens each March in Columbia or Milwaukee Public Market’s chili-and-beer-tasting event that kicks off annually in February.
Mr. Feldman added that while the focus of farmers’ markets is on what’s in season, purveyors are extending the peak of the season by creating baked goods, jams and other products from crops they’ve grown, while others are relying on greenhouses or semicircular “hoop” houses to bring more produce to market in winter. The revenue, Mr. Feldman said, is beneficial to the immediate community.
For cities in warmer climates, staying open in the winter is easy. California, for instance, has scores of year-round markets. Those in colder cities often have pavilions to buffer against the cold. The Nashville market, for example, has a Market House, where shoppers will find prepped-food options and cafes, including a wine-tasting room.
Here are five markets that are worth a day or two exploring — even in chilly weather.
Santa Fe Farmers’ Market
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