Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
On the edge of the Northeastern border between Washington, DC, and Maryland is the legendary Eastern Market. It is one of Washington’s oldest farmer’s markets, and it includes both indoor and open air areas where vendors sell everything from prime cuts of beef and fresh vegetables to handmade scarves and eclectic prints. You can find locals from all over the city trekking there each week to stock up on groceries, fresh flowers, and other wares for their home.
From the DC metro, take the orange line to the Eastern Market stop. Exit the station, and you’ll find yourself at the crossroads between a bustling commercial district and a quiet residential area.
Not surprisingly, you can find Eastern Market amid the homes. With its lush trees and landscaped lawns down every block, the surrounding neighborhood provides a welcome contrast to the bustle you’ll find within the Market’s limits.
Unlike at other markets you can visit around the world, the vendors at Eastern Market generally do not haggle over the price of their goods. You may be able to find a few who are willing to bend a few dollars here and there, but overall you should expect to pay what is asked. Eastern Market goods are not cheap, but they are not unreasonable either when factoring in the freshness of the food you can buy and many vendors’ self-made goods that you cannot find anyplace else.
When shopping at Eastern Market, be sure to sample the fresh apple cider from some of the outdoor vendors and the baked goods from the one bakery on the Market’s premises. Also, though not the best place to buy Washington, DC, souvenirs, consider picking up an item or two from the outdoor area that you would find it hard to buy back home. That way, you can keep your memories of Washington on prominent display, long after the food you bought is gone and the logo on your “I Love DC” t-shirt has faded away.
The best time to visit Eastern Market is anytime. Because it is has both an indoor and open air area, the Market remains welcome to customers all year. The outdoor area is closed when the weather turns cold, of course, but up until the better part of the fall vendors are there. It is, after all, the best time of the year for apples, sweet potatoes, and other hearty, frost-happy foods.
Travelers who really enjoy immersing themselves in the experience of being among the locals and bumping elbows with natives in a busy, crowded atmosphere will want to come to the Market on the weekend. On those days, you will find a laid back atmosphere simmering with the low intensity of people going about their weekly errands.
For a quieter experience, try shopping during the weekday. Most people are at work and you might also be able to snag a better bargain from a vendor itching to make a sale for the day.
Either way, make Eastern Market one of the places you visit during your travels in Washington, DC.