Fresh Direct

Break free from the farmers' market norm

Turn a shopping trip into an adventure with these five farmers' markets itineraries, each featuring a favorite market with a nearby attraction or three.  

Oak Park Farmers' Market: Use the bustling Saturday morning farmers' market (7 a.m. to 1 p.m.) as incentive for a day trip to the western suburb of Oak Park. Doughnuts and summer fruit are excellent fuel for an afternoon walking tour of the neighborhood's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses. 460 Lake St., Oak Park 

61st St. Farmers' Market: Don't miss Japanese eggplant and Chinese long beans from Lucky Duck Farm or thumbprint cookies from Peerless Bread & Jam amidst the two dozen vendors at this Saturday (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) market. Explore its home, the innovative Experimental Station, and then visit the University of Chicago's superb Smart Museum of Art, just over a mile away. 61st St. between Dorchester and Blackstone aves.

Daley Plaza Farmers' Market: Downtown's largest market is packed with produce, baked goods and one of our favorite local treats: dried Midwestern fruit from Stover's in Michigan. Looking for a reason to play hooky? Plunder the Thursday market (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for picnic fodder, then head to Millennium Park to feast on your spoils. 50 W. Washington St. 

Pilsen Community Market: Spend your Sunday (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) in Pilsen, stocking up on produce, French pastries, local honey and tamales. On 8/18 and 9/15, follow your market trip with a stroll through the Pilsen Flea, a pop-up art and vintage market just around the corner. 1800 S. Halsted St.

Lincoln Square Farmers' Market: This northern market offers two weekly opportunities to hoard local bounty: Tuesday mornings (7 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Thursday evenings (4 to 8 p.m.). Load bags with mushrooms from River Valley Ranch, cheese from Brunkow and loaves from Breadman, then source the rest of your ingredients from the shops across the street, like Provenance Food and Wine, Gene's Sausage Shop and PNA Oriental Store. Need inspiration for what to cook? Flip through cookbooks at the nearby Book CellarMunicipal Parking Lot at N. Lincoln Ave. and W. Leland Ave.