THERE’S MORE to the best farmers markets, fruit stands, and U-pick places in Washington than who has the crispiest apples, the sweetest Rainier cherries, and the plumpest potatoes. Indeed, the state’s most iconic spots to purchase produce boast the kind of sense of place, attitude, and showmanship that keep people coming back for more, regardless of the season. Some of the top places to pick up the state’s top crops include:
Pike Place Market
With street performers, flying fish, and 200-plus merchants vying for attention, it would be easy to overlook Seattle’s freshest produce, but doing so would be a crying shame.
Ballard Farmers Market
A weekly market held every Sunday in Seattle’s famed Norwegian neighborhood, this is one of the few Seattle farmers markets to be open all year round.
Olympia Farmers Market
All products here must be grown or made within a four-county area. That, and the daily entertainment Thursday through Sunday, is music to the ears of most.
Snow Goose Produce
This roadside stand sells local produce, specialty foods, and fresh-caught Hood Canal shrimp, making it worth a day trip to Mount Vernon, just outside La Conner.
Prey’s Fruit Barn
This open-air fruit stand near Leavenworth sits next to an orchard that grows 29 varieties of apple and 13 varieties of pear. It also sells local fruit, dried fruit, honey, and jam.
Thorp Fruit Stand and Antique Mall
Its location on I-90 between Seattle and Ellensburg may attract drivers looking to stretch, but its odd mix of local crops, gourmet food, wine, and antiques brings people back.
Unless you pick them yourself, it’s hard to get apples much fresher than from a stand beside the orchard. This third-generation farm near Wenatchee sells organic apples and preserves.
A roadside stand on steroids, Smallwood has a petting farm, egg factory, cow train, and maze, plus a sales space featuring fruit, specialty foods, soaps, and lotions.
What started in 1996 as a small Pasco fruit stand has grown into a destination, complete with a chocolate factory, specialty foods, and corn maze, though the focus remains on produce.
Bill’s Berry Farm
Nothing says fall like a pumpkin slingshot. Train rides, ponies, and a cider press make picking your own berries, apples, and pumpkins fun for the entire family in Grandview.
It’s hard to find a U-pick with a greater sense of place than this North Bend farm where you can harvest your own blueberries in the shadow of Mount Si. —DAVID VOLK
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