It’s been five years since we moved to Michigan and Eastern Market is still one of our favorite places in Detroit to hang out. We love attending special events (like Flower Day), eating out at the different restaurants, and shopping at the local stores.
Detroit Eastern Market is also where we like to buy our groceries. We try to make it out twice a month to the Saturday market to get farm eggs, local coffee, fresh produce, and meat from Gratiot Central Meat Market. It’s a great money saver for us and the kids love the experience.
I HAVE THIS THING FOR FARMERS MARKETS.
Okay, I have a confession to make: I have this thing for farmers markets. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved going to the farmers market. My earliest memory of visiting a farmers market is when I would visit my dad in Georgia during the summertime. He’d always stop by the farmers market to buy fresh peanuts, peaches, and watermelon.
When Travis and I lived in Tennessee, we started going to the farmers market in the summer. In Clarksville, the farmers market was held in the downtown area in the parking lot of City Hall. It was relatively small, but there was always a good selection to choose from.
Soon, we discovered a small farm store and started shopping there throughout the year. We’d buy fresh produce, farm eggs, baked goods, and smoked bacon and sausage.
The farm store was a good 30 minutes from where we lived, but we didn’t mind the drive. To us, it was worth the trip because we favored the farm store’s groceries over the chain grocery stores.
DISCOVERING EASTERN MARKET
After moving to Michigan in 2015, we discovered Eastern Market during the holiday season. We had signed up for a tour of the marketplace to learn more about it and how to navigate our way through the area.
Honestly, our first reaction to the popular Detroit farmers market was intimidation because it was so much bigger than we were used to seeing in our former small, Tennessee city. But after taking the tour and visiting Eastern Market more often, we soon became regulars!
WARMER WEATHER MEANS A BUSY FARMERS MARKET SEASON
The busy season for Eastern Market is during late spring and the summertime. That’s when all of the sheds are open and you can also find many Detroit-based food trucks on the market days. (I also have a thing for food trucks!)
Whereas in the wintertime, things tend to slow down after the holidays and only a couple of the sheds are open. Still, despite the cold weather, it’s worth making a trip to Eastern Market!
10 REASONS TO VISIT EASTERN MARKET IN THE WINTERTIME
1. You get out of the house for a little bit. Michigan winters can be long and dreary. It always feels like the wintertime lasts forever. We usually get snow after the holidays and it doesn’t seem to stop until mid-April. Yes, you read right– MID-APRIL!
I tend to get cabin fever right around the middle of January so making a Saturday trip to Eastern Market is a great way to get some fresh air and do an activity outside of the house. Thankfully, the vendors are housed inside of the sheds so we don’t have to be outside in the cold for very long.
2. Eastern Market isn’t as crowded in the wintertime as it is in the warmer months. This can be a plus if you don’t like dealing with large crowds. Parking is also easier to find in the winter.
As I mentioned before, during the spring and summer months, the market gets really busy. Saturdays are usually the busiest days but don’t worry! In the summertime, Eastern Market also features a Tuesday farmers market and a Sunday small business market that has a smaller crowd.
3. Fresh produce can be lower in price than the grocery store. It just depends on the vendor. There are some vendors who sell produce at grocery store prices so make sure you shop around before making your final purchase.
But from our experience, we have seen great deals on food and other products. For instance, we like to purchase a BIG bag of apples from one vendor for only $6! Our kids love to eat fruit like it’s candy so this is perfect for us.
4. Fresh farm eggs taste better than the grocery store eggs. The price, of course, is a little higher than eggs sold at the chain stores, but in our opinion, it’s worth paying a little extra for the farm eggs.
5. You can find homemade baked goods and select food trucks at the Saturday market. A few vendors sell yummy homemade cakes, cookies, pies, popcorn, and other goodies that you may not be able to find in a grocery store. I spotted Sweet Potato Sensations at the Saturday market and they have delicious baked goods! Definitely a must-try! They’re a big Detroit favorite.
While you won’t find many food trucks in the wintertime (I think it depends on the weather), there are a few food vendors that sell hot food or deli sandwiches inside of the sheds. From pierogi to meatball subs and chicken shawarma sandwiches, you can grab a quick lunch while shopping at the farmers market.
6. Supporting local businesses. When you shop at Eastern Market, you’re supporting local/Michigan-owned businesses. This is something that I personally love to do.
7. A variety of butchers are also located in Eastern Market. If you are a meat-eater like we are, then finding a local butcher at the farmers market is going to be another great advantage for you.
It’s perfect because not only can you buy your fresh produce and baked goods at the market, but then you can also get your meat there, too! Gratiot Central Meat Market, for instance, is a large-size meat and seafood grocery store. There are several different butchers inside of the market.
There are also various butchers located throughout the market district. Locally-owned businesses like Frank’s Meat & Produce, Saad Wholesale Meats, Mr. Foods Meat Market & Deli are just a few butcher services you can find in Eastern Market. Here’s a link to the Eastern Market directory to find a Detroit butcher.
8. Get local coffee at the farmers market. My favorite Detroit coffee is Germack Coffee Roasting Company. I always purchase the Sunny Drive decaf coffee and lavender to add to my coffee. I also bought my French Press at Germack about 3 years ago.
And whenever we go to Eastern Market to shop or play, I love to get a lavender latte. You can also find local vendors, like Detroit Bold, who sell coffee inside of the sheds on market days.
9. Eastern Market’s Murals in the Market is a must-see, too! Established in 2015, the Murals in the Market festival is held each year in September. To date, there are over 100 murals featured in Eastern Market. There are also a few art installations such as Ryan Doyle’s Phoenix art piece and Robert Sestok‘s city sculpture (another favorite of mine).
Now it’s always fun to go on a walking tour to view the murals and art installations, especially if you want to take photos of yourself or your family in front of the murals.
But on really cold days, you may not feel up to it. Many of the murals can be seen and photographed from the comfort of your warm car so you don’t have to worry about getting out in the cold, especially if you have the kids with you.
10. A variety of restaurants and stores are based in the market district. Eastern Market isn’t just a farmers market. There are also many restaurants and stores located in the area. Restaurants like Bert’s Warehouse (we had our anniversary dinner there last year), Louisiana Creole Gumbo, and Zeff’s Coney Island (I love their Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich!) are a few favorites.
Detroit-owned businesses like Brooklyn Outdoor, Detroit Vs. Everybody, and Eastern Market Antiques are just a few stores you can find in Eastern Market. Here’s a complete list of other restaurants and stores found at Eastern Market if you need more information.
Getting out in the cold can be challenging sometimes, especially if it’s cold like a Michigan winter (remember last year’s Polar Vortex?!). But on the milder, cold days, making a trip to Eastern Market is definitely worth it!
Visit easternmarket.com for more information such as upcoming events, parking information, restaurant guide, and more.
A FEW MORE PHOTOS FROM OUR TRIPS TO EASTERN MARKET IN THE WINTER
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- Grilled Radish with Lemon-Herb Ricotta by Coriander Kitchen & Farm
All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.