Cheap Dates with Toddlers: Farmers Markets

marketThe Issaquah Farmers’ Market opens for the season tomorrow, April 19th.

I love taking my kids on outings to farmer’s markets – the toddler and the teenagers! It’s a chance to be outdoors, walking, surrounded by people of all ages from your community. Every time we go we run into someone we haven’t seen in ages, and it’s a nice chance to say a quick hello.

The market stalls offer a visual feast… I’m not really a visual person – I may not even notice if there’s art on the wall if I eat a long dinner in a restaurant – but at a farmers’ market, I love the colors and textures: the glossy green zucchini, the bright red bell peppers, the lumpy brown potatoes, the yellow sunflowers, and more.

Shopping at the market is also a great chance to be aware of food and where it comes from. summer we might go home with lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes for fresh summer salads. In late season, it’s parsnips, sweet potatoes, and squash for autumn vegetable soups. You can talk with your kids about those seasons and talk about celebrating each one.

All season long, there’s fresh-baked bread, homemade jams and other goodies, and fresh cut bouquets of flowers. Many markets also sell arts and crafts.

Several locations have food trucks in if you’d like to grab a pizza dinner or an ice cream cone while you shop. Several locations also offer live music – usually of the folk or bluegrass variety, and can be a nice opportunity for a family picnic while the kids dance around.

Bring re-useable bags along when you come, and bring cash. (Some markets have ways to buy market money with a credit card, I think, but I’ve always just found it easier to bring cash. It also helps me set the budget for what I’m buying that day. When I run out of the cash I brought, we’re done… no matter how tempting that toffee is….)

Here’s the 2014 summer schedule for Eastside markets

Tuesdays: Bellevue – Crossroads.12 – 6:30 (beginning May 27). ww.crossroadsbellevue.com/SpecialEvents/FarmersMarket

Wednesdays: Kirkland – downtown. 3 – 7 (beginning June 4) http://kirklandmarket.org/

Thursdays: Bellevue – north of downtown. 3 – 7 pm. 1717 Bellevue Way NE. http://bellevuefarmersmarket.org/

Fridays: Kirkland/Juanita. 3 – 7 pm. (starting June 6)  www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/parks/Parks/Juanita_Friday_Market.htm

Thursdays: Bellevue downtown. Saturdays 10 – 3 (starting June 7), 106th Ave NE – next to the Bellevue Arts Museum. http://bellevuefarmersmarket.org/

Saturdays: Issaquah 9 – 2. (starting April 19) Pickering Barn (across from Costco) 1730 10th Ave N.W. www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=778

Saturdays: Redmond 9 – 3. (Starting May 3) at Redmond Town Center. http://redmondsaturdaymarket.org/

For lots more ideas on fun, cheap activities to do with your toddler, click on “toddler date” in the categories list to the right.

photo credit: NatalieMaynor via photopin cc

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