Exploring 10 awesome Iowa farmers markets

Exploring 10 awesome Iowa farmers markets

Photo courtesy of Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market via Facebook.

By Katie Giorgio

June 24, 2024

Get excited: It’s Iowa farmers market season! No matter what part of the state you find yourself in, there’s a fantastic farmers market nearby.

Check out this list of just some of the biggest and best farmers markets in Iowa where you can snatch up beautiful bouquets, fresh (and might we add: delicious) produce, and unique artisan made goods.

Nearly all of the markets on this list operate rain or shine, so come prepared. We also recommend bringing your own shopping bags to tote home all your goodies. 

Des Moines Downtown Farmer’s Market

Perhaps the most well-known farmers market in the whole state, the Des Moines Downtown Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday from May 4 through October 26. Located in the historic Court District in downtown Des Moines, this market runs from 7 a.m. to noon and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s been operating since 1976 and continues to grow each year.

Shop for veggies, meat, and eggs all locally produced. Plus, there’s a whole category of artisan food entrepreneurs (yes, that’s a thing!) so you can eat your way through the outdoor venue. There’s lots of free and paid parking options and through a partnership for extended bus service with the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, you can hop on the bus along the D-Line route and be dropped off at the market. And there’s a free bike valet if you want to pedal downtown to shop. 

Bonus tip: While in Des Moines you might also check out the Valley Junction Farmers Market. It also runs on a weekly basis from May through September although on Wednesday evenings from 4 to 8 p.m. There are some 80 vendors to shop from in this historic retail district on the west side of town.

Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmer’s Market

The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmer’s Market is the place to see and be seen on several Saturday mornings throughout the summer months in this eastern Iowa hub. This season is the market’s 19th and will feature some 200 vendors in the heart of downtown Cedar Rapids.

The market will run from 7:30 a.m. to noon on the following dates: May 25, June 1, June 15, July 6, July 20, August 3, August 17, and September 21. It’s one the largest and most popular open-air markets in the Midwest and provides a great atmosphere for shopping and entertainment. Also, mark your calendar to check out the unique (and equally fun to shop) night market scheduled for August 24 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. It happens in the same downtown area but has a distinct nightlife vibe. 

Bonus tip: On the opposite weekends from when the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market is held, check out the Uptown Marion Market just a few miles away in neighboring Marion. Planned for June 8, July 13, August 10 (featuring a youth entrepreneur fair), and September 28 from 8:00 a.m.-noon this season, the market offers great local entertainment and shopping with local vendors in the newly renovated Uptown Marion plaza area. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Cedar Rapids Farmers Market and Buy Local Initiatives via Facebook.

Iowa City Farmers Market

The Iowa City Farmers Market is uniquely situated in downtown Iowa City utilizing the Chauncey Swan parking ramp, Chauncey Swan Park, and on E. Washington Street to host a lovely selection of local growers and vendors.

The season kicks off May 4 and runs through October 26 with markets every Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to noon. There is musical entertainment each week and some 150 vendors to chat and shop with. One important goal of the market is to “serve culturally and economically diverse populations by providing access to fresh, locally produced products.” 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Iowa City Farmers Market via Facebook.

Dubuque Farmers Market

It may be old, but it’s still fresh. The Dubuque Farmers Market has been operating since 1858 (truly!) in the heart of downtown in the upper main district by City Hall. The oldest farmers market in the state, today you can find it spanning three blocks on Iowa Street, then also extending on 11th, 12th, and 13th streets.

The market happens every Saturday in May through October. Hours are 7 a.m. to noon from May to September, then from 8 a.m. to noon for October markets. There are more than 125 vendors to shop from who represent 10,000 farmered acres in the surrounding counties. You’ll be amazed at the variety of products available. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Dubuque Farmers’ Market via Facebook.

Sioux City Farmers Market

Starting on the first Saturday in May and running through the last Saturday in October (are you sensing a farmers market theme here?) the Sioux City Farmers Market is open for shopping from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. But the bonus on the western side of the state is that the Sioux City Farmers Market is open on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. as well!

You’ll find nearly 100 vendors with locally grown foods, delicious baked goods, and handcrafted items — all grown or created by the people selling the products. The market takes place in the Tyson Events Center Suite Parking Lot at the corner of TriView Avenue and Pearl Street. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Sioux City Farmers Market via Facebook.

Freight House Farmers Market

The outdoor season for Freight House Farmers Market starts on May 4 and runs all summer long. This venue hosts an outdoor market on Saturdays (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sundays (10 a.m-2p.m.) that feature some 200 vendors (although they note that not every vendor is present every week and recommend following favorite vendors online to see when they will be popping up at the Freight House Farmers Market).

Located at 421 W. River Drive in Davenport, this is actually a year-round market operated indoors as well in a historic building along the Mississippi River which is a fantastic way to continue shopping for locally produced goods year round. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Freight House Farmers’ Market via Facebook.

Clear Lake Farmers Market

The parking lot of the Surf Ballroom comes alive with activity on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon during the summer months for the Clear Lake Farmers Market. About 80 different vendors sell a variety of products including produce, fresh baked breads and cookies, and much more. This makes it the largest producer-only market in the northern part of the state. And of course there’s musical entertainment, too.

Being in close proximity to Clear Lake itself also makes for a lovely morning in this north, central Iowa town for locals and visitors alike.  

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Clear Lake Farmers Market via Facebook.

Cedar Falls Farmers Market

You can also buy fresh and local at the Cedar Falls Farmers Market. The market is made up of 100% producer grown vendors (nearly 50!) from Blackhawk County and the surrounding counties in eastern Iowa.

The market is held on Saturdays from May through October from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Overman Park in downtown Cedar Falls You will find fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, baked goods, eggs, meat, mushrooms, honey, coffee, jams and jellies, nuts, fresh-cut flower bouquets, potted plants and starts for your own gardens, houseplants, metal and wood worked items, natural health and beauty products, jewelry, pottery, food trucks, and more. 

Bonus tip: Nearby, you can check out the Waterloo Urban Farmers Market which also operates on Saturdays from May to October from 8 a.m. to noon. Revamped for growth in 2018, this market now hosts more than 40 vendors and draws one of the most diverse crowds in the area, enhancing access to fresh, healthy foods for all. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Kaiser Farm Fresh via Facebook.

Decorah Farmers Market

Locals and visitors to northeast Iowa know not to miss out on the Decorah Farmers Market. Much like in Sioux City, the Decorah Farmers Market takes place from May through October on both Wednesdays (3 to 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) in the lower Oneota Community Co-op parking lot. This combination creates a nice balance for shoppers looking for fresh produce especially.

There are usually a little over a dozen regular vendors and then several others who join the market occasionally. On Saturday mornings there’s live music to liven up the shopping experience as well. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Decorah Farmers Market via Facebook.

Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market

School may be out for summer, but the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market is in session. This open-air market takes place on the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street in downtown Ames between Clark Avenue and Kellogg Avenue. The market runs on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from May through September and then from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in October.

You can find fine arts and crafts, homemade foods, and plenty of local growers and producers. There are typically about 20 regular vendors with a handful of other vendors that join in throughout the season as well. And each Saturday has a featured activity, from pony rides and sourdough bread contests, to art projects and other entertainment. 

Harvest Bounty: Exploring The 10 Best Farmers Markets In Iowa

Photo courtesy of Ames Downtown.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Exploring 10 awesome Iowa farmers marketsExploring 10 awesome Iowa farmers markets

  • Katie Giorgio

    Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer, editor, and nonprofit professional living and working in her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She’s written for a wide variety of publications, including WashingtonPost.com, BHG.com, and U.S. News & World Report. 100 Things to Do in Cedar Rapids Before You Die, her first book came out in October 2022. Learn more at katiemillsgiorgio.com or follow her on Instagram at @ktmgiorgio.

CATEGORIES: FOOD and DRINK
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