Public markets — full of vendors, stalls, delicious food, locally crafted wares and more — can be found in many cities across the United States. These markets are where the locals come to shop for specialty foods or grab a bite from a prepared food vendor during lunch. There's also a dose of history in many of these markets. Some date back to the 1700s.
They're must-stops for tourists, whether they're foodies or not. And they're vital sources of revenue for cities and the independent vendors that set up shop in these bustling bazaars that often see thousands of people walk through the doors each day.
These nine public markets are not to be missed.
Milwaukee Public Market
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Public Market offers a selection of artisan and ethnic products and prepared foods from a variety of independent merchants. Opened in 2005 in the historical district that's been known for local markets for over 100 years, local chefs and nationally known cookbook authors give cooking classes at the market's The Madame Kuony Demonstration Kitchen.
Make sure not to miss the hand-dipped chocolates from Kehr's Candies (a company that has been making confections since 1930), the more than 30 Belgian beers at Café Benelux on the rooftop and the toasted white chocolate coconut cream pie at C. Adam's Bakery.
Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.
Since 1873, the Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. has been a place for people to go for fresh foods, flowers, baked goods and more. In the South Hall Market, indoor merchants set up shop each day. Tuesdays feature a fresh farmers market, and on the weekend, an open-air venue has more farmers and local artists that sell handmade arts, crafts and antiques.
Make sure not to miss the Fried Green Tomato BLT with egg breakfast sandwich at The Brick, the hazelnut gelato at Pitango Gelato, and Union Meat Co's bison hot dog.
Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco
Committed to the artisan food community in and around San Francisco, the Ferry Building Marketplace gathers local farmers and independently owned food businesses with a special emphasis on Northern California wine's connection to the regional foods. The building dates to the late 1800s and has been a bustling public market since 2003.
Make sure not to miss the outdoor Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays), the award-winning cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery and the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant where you can buy, taste and learn about wine.
French Market, New Orleans
One of New Orleans biggest attractions in the French Quarter, the French Market sits on the site where a market has existed in some form or other since 1791. The open-air market contains five blocks of local produce, locally made arts and crafts, prepared foods, retail shopping, a flea market and more.
Make sure not to miss the famous beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde, the huge muffuletta sandwich at the French Market Restaurant (bring someone to share it with) and the crawfish étouffée at the Cajun Café.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
Faneuil Hall Marketplace is four markets in one — Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. Faneuil Hall is the oldest, built in 1742 and added on to over the years. It's now home to shops, restaurants and outdoor entertainment. Eighteen million people pass through the marketplace each year.
Make sure not to miss the Boston clam chowder from the Boston Chowda Co., the lobster roll at Boston & Maine Fish Company and "the finest chocolate chip cookies that you can purchase in America" at the Boston Chipyard.
Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia
In Center City Philadelphia, Reading Terminal Market is the place to go to grab a quick lunch, fresh produce, artisan bread, fresh fish, cheese, Amish foods and more. Since 1892, Philadelphians have gone to the market for Philly specialties, and today this public market is one of the city's most delicious attractions.
Make sure not to miss DiNic's Roast Pork that's been named the best sandwich in America, Beck's Cajun Cafe's fried mac and cheese and thick-sliced bacon from one of the Amish vendors to take home for your homemade weekend brunch.
West Side Market, Cleveland
One hundred vendors sell meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, flowers, prepared foods and more at Cleveland's West Side Market. The market is open year-round but closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Make sure not to miss K&K Bakery's apple fritters, the falafel sandwich at Maha's and the crusty artisan breads at Mediterra Bakehouse.
Flint Farmers' Market
In Michigan, 50 indoor vendors sell produce, meat, poultry, bread, baked goods, cheese, wine, art, prepared foods, groceries and a lot more year round at the Flint Farmers' Market. From May through October an additional 30 vendors are outside. Summer also brings live music, storytellers, authors and other events.
Make sure not to miss Market Tap (a rooftop bar specializing in Michigan craft beer, wine and spirits), the artisan breads at Crust and the hickory smoked barbecue ribs, brisket and pulled pork at Charlie's Smokin' BBQ.
Pike Place Market, Seattle
For over 100 years, Pike Place Market has been Seattle's public market. Started in 1907, Pike Place has nine acres of fish markets, butcher shops, bakeries, produce stands, specialty food stores, crafters and more. Shoppers can spend an entire day exploring the 500 vendors that occupy the many buildings and winding alleys that make up the market.
Make sure not to miss The Pike Brewing Company and Pike Pub (where you can take a tour of operations and then have a bite to eat and a beer), the Country Dough's Chinese Crêpe (a donut and egg wrapped in a pancake, stuffed with hoisin sauce and fermented bean curd) and Soul Cat cigar box guitars and ukuleles, where you can see one of a kind, professionally built musical instruments that are also works of art.