“Would you like a sample?” A brightly colored, and lovingly prepared bite of fresh fruit is wafting sweet fragrances your way. You have no idea what it is, but take a bite, and a burst of flavor explodes in your mouth! You buy a bag of the organic fruit. The morning sun, gentle breezes, and smells of freshly baked breads and hand-crafted salsas greet you as you move from vendor to vendor.
With many California farms within a few hour’s drive of South Orange County, fresh sun-ripened produce is available at your fingertips. Buying locally grown fruits and veggies is a way to get the most flavor and nutrition out of your food.
One way to ensure you are getting local ingredients is to buy your produce at a nearby farmer’s market. There are several certified markets in South Orange County. When the farmer’s market is “certified”, this means that inspectors visit the site where the produce is actually grown to ensure that it has been grown in California, and that it is being cultivated by the registered vendor. You can be confident that the produce is local and fresh; straight from the farm (or garden) to your table. At these outdoor farmer’s markets, along with fresh fruits and veggies, you can typically find flowers, nuts, honey, eggs and plants year-round. Artisans such as jewelry and craft vendors, prepared food sellers, and musicians come alongside growers to sell their wares and stimulate your senses.
Here are a few of the best farmer’s markets in South Orange County, in no particular order. Why not visit them all?
Avenida Del Mar & Seville
Sundays, 9am – 1pm
This market is not large, but is very well situated. The market is by the beach, and vendors are set up in one long line, which makes it easy to navigate. During peak season, the line of vendors spans several blocks. The stands are on the sidewalk right in front of storefronts, boutiques and restaurants, offering a wide array of choices for dining and shopping.
San Clemente Village market offers a lot of organic options, delicious artisan-baked breads, hand-crafted pestos and dips, fresh fish and shellfish, eggs and honey. You can also find fresh pasta, soups, mushrooms, truffle oil, flowers, kettle corn, tamales, and household items, among other things.
It’s best to get there before the rush, like before 10am (but not before 9:30am since people may still be setting up their booths).
27241 La Paz Rd.
Sundays, 8am – 12pm
This market is unique in that it offers a surprisingly wide selection of authentically Asian vegetables that can be hard to find. Vendors also sell a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Some of the treats include nuts, berries, mushrooms, grass-fed beef, honey, jelly, and baked goods. You can also purchase tamales or empanadas to snack on while exploring the market.
Pacific Coast Hwy. & Golden Lantern
Saturdays, 9am – 1pm
This dog-friendly market offers a number of prepared food options, such as tamales, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce, coffee, naan, freshly pressed juices, dips, pesto, and baked goods. Farm fresh eggs are also available. Free samples are generously offered so that you can taste before you buy. While you are munching, the vendor might offer a treat for your pooch, too!
A few items here that you cannot find at any grocery store include: art, jewelry and other crafts, soaps, clothing and other handmade goods such as cheeses, specialty oils and vinegar.
El Camino Real/Forster & Yorba St. in SJC
Spring and summer: Wednesdays, 3pm to 7pm, Fall and winter: Wednesdays, 3pm to 6pm
Located in Downtown San Juan Capistrano, this market is just one block south of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Fresh flowers and produce, kettle corn, gourmet tamales, honey, nuts, fashions, jewelry and other treats await you.
This may not be the peak season for produce, but you will certainly find some novel Christmas gifts at any one of South Orange County’s farmer’s markets. Many visitors from the area say that discovering what’s new at the market has become a weekend tradition. You just never know what you’re going to find!
If you are looking to settle down in beautiful South Orange county, you can enjoy these markets year-round. Here at the The Reed Team, we would love to help you find a home that works for you! Contact us today.