My father-in-law is always making great meals with his NC State Farmers Market finds, and heading there to see the birth of genius for myself has always been on my to-do list. Then it turned out that Sarah C. hadn’t been since her NC State days (which I won’t tell you how long ago that was), so we decided to make an outing of it! It was even better that we had the flexibility to do this during a weekday before the Market gets too busy with the weekend shoppers and cooks.
We started by dining at the NC State Farmers Market restaurant. This place is huge inside. The menu has a bunch of fried-tastic things in the way of good southern cookin’ but, as this is also next to the Farmers Market, they offer changing side dishes of fresh veggies daily. They use whatever is in season (I had fried okra, though, so still stuck with my fried theme). The food was quite good.
One of the things we loved about the restaurant was the “petting zoo” outside. Even though the animals weren’t real our boys still loved it. The area is outside yet off the restaurant, gated in, and filled with a bunch of ceramic statues. These statues include a pig, an alligator, a cow, a horse, and even a cowboy riding a horse. If those don’t interest your child, there is a Spiderman car that costs a quarter to ride and a small carousel ride that you also have to feed quarters. The statues look like they have seen better days, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying them!
Also outside the restaurant is a bunch of old farm equipment that looks great for climbing.
(The Market actually has 2 restaurants, the second being a seafood restaurant on the other end. We didn’t scope that out….yet….)
After eating and playing with the “animals” we went up to Market Imports for some shopping. And wowza, can you shop here. So much stuff. Alas, not a good stop for a toddler or child who is inclined to bang on expensive home decor. We hightailed it out of there before it became a very expensive trip.
There are two pavilions at the State Farmers Market. One houses baked goods, candies, gift and craft items, and even ice cream. We had fun meandering through that, but our best time was in the pavilion that held the produce stands. We went on a weekday and there was still so much here it was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what a weekend holds.
There were vegetables of every color and size. Peaches and watermelons were the flavors of the day we went, but there was far more than that here. There were also a slew of free samples. Fun for kids! There was even wine for sale and wine samples around. Fun for adults!
In the back of the produce pavilion was a garden market with trees, plants, shrubs, and more to buy. The costs were quite reasonable.
Also available for sale outside the produce shelter were baked goods, jams, and jellies.
There is a drive-thru pavilion. But this is for truckers and wholesale buyers. Which means you have to buy in some serious bulk (I think it would put your Sam’s membership to shame).
But it’s ok, because getting out and walking around this Farmers Market is half the fun. It is shaded, a nice breeze blows through, and fans run. The vendors are nice and the stands are like artwork with their offerings. And even on a hot summer day we felt cool and refreshed with the pavilion protection and the fresh peaches on the tongue.
The Farmers Market runs festivals and fairs based on in-season produce. Be sure to check out their website (see below) and calendar to stay on top of these.
NC State Farmers Market
Farmers Market Drive
Monday thru Saturday 5:00am – 6:00pm
Sundays 8:00am – 6:00pm
State Farmers Market Restaurant
1240 Farmer’s Drive
Monday thru Saturday 6:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
NC Seafood Restaurant at the Farmers’ Market in Raleigh
Farmers Market Drive
Monday thru Saturday 11 am – 8:00 pm
Sundays 11 am – 5:00 pm
1208 Farmers Market Drive
Monday thru Sunday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm