One of my favorite parts of summer is our weekly visits to the farmers’ market. It’s not only a great way to get farm fresh produce for my family but it also provides free entertainment for us every week, all summer long.
Now we are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a market. However, even if you don’t, there is plenty of entertainment at these Lake County Farmers Markets to make it worth the trip.
Held in historic downtown Grayslake, this market is run by tough midwesterners. It’s one of the first to open and it stays open longer than most. Don’t believe me? The fall market runs through December. Outside!
The market is currently open on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2p.m. but starting June 1 it will move to Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m.
What makes it fun: The Grayslake Market is like a weekly block party. The farmers line Center St. while the food vendors and entertainment gather around the new pavilion on Whitney. There are community groups, music, balloon artists and hula hooping contests.
Don’t miss: The market mascot, Farmer Gray, or the mini doughnuts. My kids love watching them get dropped into the oil almost as much as they love dipping them in frosting and eating them!
Elawa Farm is an early 20th century gentleman’s farm that has been restored to provide a unique center for hands-on learning. The goal of the center is to inspire an appreciation for gardening, healthy living and historic preservation. The market opens this weekend, May 13-14, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and will run every Friday and Saturday through October. Unlike markets filled with outside vendors, the Elawa Market is filled from fresh picked seasonal veggies and fresh cut flowers right from the farm. They also offer tasty treats from the kitchen; a kitchen frequented by the likes of Gale Gand, so you know it’s good!
What makes it fun: Assuming your children are not into the amazing architecture of the farm, what makes this market great for kids is that the Wildlife Discovery Center is also on the grounds. You can also hike the Middlefork Savannah and there’s a great playground across the parking lot.
Running on Friday afternoons, 3-7 p.m., June 10 through October, this is truly a community market. While not as big as some markets, it boasts a true feeling of community with groups and school participating, live music and other community events planned around.
What makes it fun: The incredible Paulus Park Playground makes it fun for everyone! Plan a day at the park which includes a beach, a splash pad and to quote my kids, a “totally awesome” playground. Then finish the day at the market.
One of the oldest markets, starting it’s 36th year on June 23, is my favorite when it comes to food. Held thursdays from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. it has everything from freshly-made crepes and artisan cheeses to organic bread and produce.
What makes it fun: Location! Location! Location! Located in Cook Park, there is lots of space for kids to run around. The park includes a tot lot and Rose Garden (or as my kids call it, “the flower maze”). The library hosts storytime at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the park throughout the summer and there is usually an animal rescue group there with dogs and other pets the kids can meet.
Don’t miss: The crepes and omelets! Also watch their special event calendar as the market hosts local chefs for cooking demonstrations and have other family-friendly events.