You can always find public markets, wherever you travel to.
Whether they’re focused on local food, artisan crafts, or organic produce, these markets often capture the heart of the city you’re visiting. These markets also tend to be popular meeting places, where locals and visitors shop and enjoy friendly interactions with each other.
Visiting a Local Market
Before your visit, be sure to find out the market’s hours of operation. Some public markets are open every day, while others are only open one or two days a week or during special holidays. Look for public transportation that stops by the market, or if you’re driving, do some research on available parking areas. Popular markets can get quite crowded.
You should be able to find information about local markets in travel guides or local newspapers. You can also do a search on the Internet or ask your hotel concierge. Most markets are free to visit.
History of Markets
Public markets developed across the ancient world along with new advances in agriculture, as people transitioned away from hunting and gathering. Open markets appeared wherever commerce proliferated. The word “market” comes from the Latin mercatus, meaning “the activity of trading, dealing, or buying.”Over time, markets became more regulated and many towns, especially in Europe, constructed special market buildings for vendors to hawk their wares.
The Evolution of Markets
In the United States, farmers markets have become a popular destination. It’s certainly true that most people still do their main shopping at brick-and-mortar grocery stores. However, today’s markets offer a variety of seasonal products not often found in more conventional settings.
Many farmers markets now feature prepared food vendors and food trucks. Some even provide live music performances or cooking demonstrations, while others showcase unique farm stand displays. Most large cities have several markets, and even small towns are likely to have at least one.
The Best Public Markets in America
The Union Square Greenmarket in New York City is a large market featuring vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy products from upstate New York. It’s a very pleasant market to wander through while tasting samples from different vendors. One reviewer on TripAdvisor calls it “the best place on earth.”
In San Francisco, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market sits right on the Bay and features the area’s best farm products, prepared food, and specialty products. Seattle’s Pike Place Market and Boston’s public market at Faneuil Hall are two more examples of top-quality markets that offer a dazzling array of goods.
Famous Chefs Who Shop at Markets
Chefs and food personalities like Alice Waters, Alton Brown, Gordon Ramsay, and Andrew Zimmern have all been very vocal about their love of farmers markets. If you shop at a market in a city like New York City or San Francisco, there’s always a chance you’ll see your favorite local chef selecting ingredients for that night’s dinner menu.
With the widespread popularity of public markets, you’re sure to find one to visit, no matter where you travel. If you’re in a large city, you may even have several different market options to choose from. You can browse local farm products, shop for the best local artisan crafts, and sample some delicious food to keep you fueled for your market visit. Best of all, most markets are free to the public and don’t require any advance planning to visit.