Now that summer is in full swing, I can finally take advantage of all the wonderful experiences summer has to offer. I love swimming at beach, roasting marshmallows, and spending late nights with my friends, but there is one experience that has these beat. And that is, going to farmers markets.

Last Saturday, I went to my first farmers market of the season. Before going, I made sure I had my two essential items: reusable bags and cash. Not only are reusable bags great for the environment, but they will make the farmers market more enjoyable for you. Hopefully, you will be visiting many booths and purchasing some amazing items from vendors. Rather than carrying all those items around in ten different bags, it is much easier to place all your goodies into one, big bag. Also, you might be buying some fresh veggies, fruit, or cold items that you would want to store in your own chilled bag. Next, cash. While there are some vendors that do have card options, more likely than not, most will be cash only. Nothing is worse than picking out your new hat or handmade garden gnome, only to learn that they are cash only.

Reusable BagsPersonal Photo

Once I made sure I had those two items in the car, it was time to go. I do not believe there is anything quite like the atmosphere of a farmers market. At the one I visit, there is live music throughout the street, tons of people shopping, and of course, mine is along Lake Michigan (the Wisconsin side, for those of you who are curious). Now, while most people's first stop is to this amazing little coffee stand, I have another snack on my mind. My first stop was the booth that houses the most amazing, homemade cream cheese rangoons. I. LOVE. THEM. With my heart full of the cream cheese goodness, I was ready to continue exploring.

Now, the proper way to fully take in a farmers market, is by starting at one end and slowly walking down the street, stopping at each booth that catches your fancy. And if you really want to do this right, stop at the booths with samples, because samples. Where else can you try homemade chips that taste like cheesecake, which are wonderful by the way. Where else can you try forty different cheeses and not feel guilty about going back for seconds? How about a key lime pie dip? Have you thought of anywhere? I don't think so. It is the prime experience of farmers markets.

Cheese for daysPersonal Photo

But, farmers markets are not only a great experience for me, they are also great for the vendors. It is wonderful to have a place to shop and support community members. I love knowing that I can support their crafts, whether it be woodworking, jewelry making, gardening, etc. Plus, everything comes locally. From the fruits to the flowers to the fresh pies, this is what the area has to offer. It is magical knowing the flowers on my dinner table came from the local area rather than being shipped in to a large grocery store. It is heartwarming knowing that each vegetable was handpicked and ready for me to serve.

Yet, the greatest thing of all, about farmers markets, is finding that unique item that you cannot get anywhere else. And last Saturday, I found my unique item. As I entered the market, between two barbeque stations, there was a booth with window decorations made of glass. And as I marveled at all the wonderful creations, my eyes fell upon the most beautiful thing of all, the glorious cubbies W. I cannot wait to bring it to my new apartment and hang it proudly for all to see.

Fly the WPersonal Photo

So, the next time you are wondering what to do this summer, try finding a local farmers market. Even when I travel to Florida later this summer, there is a farmers market I know I will be visiting with my family. Support your community, shop local, and above all, get to those samples!!!