We passed countless perfect Saturdays at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market before we had children. The bustling crowds, the long lines for Roli Roti porchetta sandwiches and Blue Bottle Coffee, and the intricate maze of farm stands were all part of the charm of the experience. We always left the market full, happy, and brimming with love for San Francisco, thinking this is why we live here.
But in our post-kid life, those long lines at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market are excruciating (and the toddler is just going to turn her nose up at the porchetta we queued 45 minutes for anyway), and the formerly charming labyrinth of organic vegetables and throngs of visitors are just more opportunities for our children to get terribly, horribly lost. Our once favorite place had suddenly become…impossible.
Our new Saturday morning haunt is the Farmer’s Market at the Marin Country Mart, which in truth is less of a farmer’s market and more of a children’s carnival. Puppet shows, live music (with charming little captain’s chairs for the audience), a breakfast cereal bar, and arts & crafts projects all await your littles and are entirely free. Food trucks, a petite assortment of CCOF farm stands, a petting zoo, and pony rides round out the family-friendly fun, and that’s before you even peruse the Mart itself.
Our day usually begins with coffee and pastries at Rustic Bakery. (The meyer lemon pastry is beyond.) We can’t resist the vibrant prints at Roberta Roller Rabbit, which sells linens, tabletop treasures, and some seriously adorable children’s clothing (like the sunhat pictured above). There’s a brilliantly curated (if curiously named) bookstore, Diesel. Their staff has made some terrific suggestions, like household favorites “The Day The Crayons Quit” and “Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs.”
Belcampo Meat Company might be the most beautiful butcher shop we’ve ever seen. They also happen to make a fantastic cheeseburger. (Pictured above. Stop drooling.) If we’re hungry for an al fresco brunch, my husband is a sucker for the huevos rancheros at El Hurache Loco. (They also serve toddler-approved quesadillas and mexican rice that aren’t too “spicy,” which is toddler speak for “Yeah, I’m not eating that.”)