In general, everyone looks for the freshest, most nutritious foods when they go shopping. The best places to go for that are Michigan farmers markets, and the largest open-air market in the nation is the Eastern Market in Detroit in the heart of downtown off Russell St.
Eastern Market Detroit Michigan Overview & History
You can find everything that you’re looking for at the Detroit Eastern Market, which is managed by the Eastern Market Partnership. It’s more than the largest open-air market in Michigan. It’s the biggest in the United States!
This one-of-a-kind venue features a vast array of antiques, foods, flowers, restaurants, apparel, pottery, and more. Among the food that you can find are strawberries, kiwi, peppers, cheeses, pies, pasta, spices, meat, and so much more.
About 40,000 families, city-dwellers, college students, and other people may converge on the Eastern Market on busy Saturdays. The market features six sheds full of vendors and event space. They’re open every Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday (more details below).
You can get more information and a map of the Eastern Market at the Welcome Center between Sheds 2 and 3 at 1445 Adelaide, Detroit, MI. Or, head to the Information Booth inside Shed 5.
History & Future
The Eastern Market in Detroit opened in 1891, making this famous market more than 130 years old!
It was built on a wholesale market that still operates throughout the week during harvest season. It sells to independent grocers and regional food distributors that don’t have regional distribution centers or don’t rely on terminal markets that distribute fruits and vegetables.
Expansion & Renovation
A couple of the vendors have been at the Eastern Market since the beginning and have witnessed its growth into an anchor for the east side of Detroit, as well as downtown, Corktown, and Midtown. A lot of new businesses have opened in the Eastern Market District over the years.
Since opening, it has undergone several modern upgrades. For instance, Shed 2 is the oldest, and work to install modern amenities was completed in 2008. Shed 3 was built in 1922 and renovated in 2009, and the enclosed Shed 5 was constructed in 1981 and renovated in 2015.
More plans are in place to lead economic development in the Eastern Market District through 2025!
Eastern Market Stores Detroit MI
Most farmers’ markets have one or two general areas where vendors set up shop. Not the Eastern Market in Detroit — It features several buildings and markets across multiple city blocks!
You have the opportunity to shop with Eastern Market vendors online as well. You can order farm boxes, meat, eggs, desserts, prepared foods, and more. You just place your order between Monday and Wednesday, and pick it up on Saturday.
The markets are the core offering in the Eastern Market District. They offer a wide variety of foods, products, and services.
Detroit VS Everybody
One of our favorite stores in Eastern Market is Detroit VS Everybody – the creation of Tommey Walker, a self-professed commissioned artist, brand manager, and creative problem solver from Detroit. Wanting to “rebuild Detroit’s image through the restored pride of Detroiters universally,” he founded a movement that has united Detroit and spread across the world.
The Eastern Market DVE store is closed for remodeling as of March 2022.
The Saturday Market is, by far, the most popular. Every Saturday, more than 225 vendors sell products of all kinds — fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, jams and jellies, and pretty much anything that you can think of. All six sheds are open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. (times may vary).
Unlike the traditional farmers’ market, the Sunday Market is a showcase of local jewelers, cooks, musicians, artists, and more. All of the products that you find are made in Detroit or other parts of Michigan. Additional events are held as well.
The Sunday Market is open in all six sheds every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (times may vary) from June through September.
The Tuesday Market is smaller compared to the Saturday and Sunday markets, so it’s only held in Sheds 2 and 3 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (times may vary). It’s a great place to get fresh produce, meats, and baked goods for the rest of the week. Plus, it features free fitness classes!
Several occasions throughout the year call for special markets to celebrate holidays or the seasons. So, these specialty markets are the perfect places to find unique items.
The holiday markets in November and December encourage supporting local organizations and businesses. Open on Sundays and Thursdays, they’re ideal for getting fantastic Michigan-made gifts. Tuesday holiday markets focus on foods and ingredients for holiday meals.
Read this personal experience of the winter holiday market:
“The winter market’s main selling point, for me, is the wide selection of decorative greenery. Garlands, wreaths, table centerpieces, and even Christmas trees — how could you not leave with at least one piece of evergreen decor?
“I recently took home a wreath of my own from the market — the very first ‘real’ Christmas greenery I’ve ever purchased! Now, I’ll get a little dose of Christmas spirit (and that wonderful pine smell!) whenever I walk through my front door.”
The Eastern Market’s Sunday Holiday Markets are special days “packed with extra seasonal goodies like carolers, appearances from Santa, and an overload of holiday gifts and hot food (I recommend stopping by the beignet truck for an amazing treat that will warm you up!).
“Make the market a one-stop-shop to pick up some original artwork or floral arrangements to give as gifts to friends and family. Where else can you multitask this well while shopping local and having a good time? Detroit is a magical place.”— Jennifer Bowman
Other Markets & Ways to Get Fresh, Michigan Food
If you’re in other parts of Detroit, you’re in luck. The Eastern Market Partnership manages or supports other markets and farm stands around the city too.
GROW Eastern Market
Shortened to GEM, this market is a wholesale connection for those in Detroit who primarily or only consume locally grown or made foods. This program brokers relationships between families, restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and more to support the growth of food businesses.
Through GROW Eastern Market, you can purchase fresh foods directly from more than 20 Southeast Michigan farms to support the local food economy. You have the option to pick up your farm products or have them delivered to you.
Gratiot Central Market
For all the meat and seafood that your stomach craves, head to the Gratiot Central Market. You can get homemade sausages, lamb, goat, oxtail, beef tongue, salmon, lobster, crab, and more. The market is home to various restaurants and shops too.
Detroit Community Markets
If you live in other parts of Detroit, you don’t always have to go to the Eastern Market for fresh, affordable food. Detroit Community Markets includes a network of farmers’ markets, mobile trucks, food box programs, and farm stands in more than a dozen neighborhood locations.
Since 2009, the Eastern Market Partnership has been supporting more than 20 pop-up mobile markets through the Detroit area. These are in addition to the Detroit Community Markets, and they open between June and September to bring fresh produce and pantry foods to the community.
In a collaborative effort with several Detroit-based grocery stores, the Eastern Market Partnership has established Tasting Stations near the stores’ produce departments. The goal of this initiative is to promote healthy eating through samples and recipes.
A unique way to get fresh fruits and veggies is to ask your primary care physician about the Fresh Prescription program. The prescription is to eat more fresh produce, which helps you set healthy eating goals and habits.
You can fill your prescription at a partnering farmers’ market or farm stand. In addition, you get cooking demonstrations, nutrition counseling, and other educational support to assist with making healthy dietary changes.
More Eastern Market Things to Do in Detroit
What makes the Eastern Market in Detroit so unique is that it appeals to all ages. Alongside the exceptional food and market vendors are restaurants, cooking demonstrations, musicians, magicians, karaoke, and more across the entire Eastern Market District.
Let’s take a look at some of these other things to do in the farmers’ market and surrounding district.
Restaurant Food, Beer, & Wine
Wow! Just about everywhere you turn is an awesome restaurant where you can enjoy unique and local delights. To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve highlighted a dozen favorites:
- Louie’s Ham & Corned Beef features all-day breakfast, deli sandwiches, and burgers in a diner-style setting.
- Pietrzyk Pierogi creates one-of-a-kind and traditional pierogies and other Polish street foods inside the Gratiot Central Market.
- Stache International serves creative bites and massive sandwiches. It makes all of its sausages and smokes all of its meats in a building that’s more than 100 years old.
- Supino Pizzeria makes large, thin-crust, New York-style pizzas in the Eastern Market. You can order by the slice or whole pie, or try a panini or cannoli.
- Zeff’s Coney Island is renowned for its Coney Island fare and menu of the best steak, seafood, Eastern meats and veggies, Mexican dishes, and New Orleans-inspired recipes.
- Louisiana Creole Gumbo has been serving flavors of the South since 1970 and is the city’s original Creole restaurant. Alongside gumbo, the menu features po’boys, baked mac and cheese, and more.
- Bert’s Market Place is an entertainment complex where you can enjoy barbecue, music concerts, dancing, and karaoke all in one venue.
- Thomas Magee’s Sporting House & Whiskey Bar is an old-school sports and whiskey bar with a casual neighborhood atmosphere.
- Eastern Market Brewing Company is a craft brewery and taproom in the heart of the Eastern Market in Detroit. You can order from a rotating tap of unique beers.
- Detroit Vineyards was established in Detroit in 1702, making it one of the first on the continent. At its Eastern Market shop, you can taste wines made with classic French techniques.
- Vivio’s Food & Spirits opened in 1967 in the historic Meyfarth Hall building that was constructed in 1892 as a German community bar, social hall, and residence. Now, you can enjoy beer and cocktails with a bite to eat. The Bloody Marys are famous!
- Detroit City Distillery creates small batches of artisanal gin, vodka, and whiskey using local ingredients, and it serves them in the Eastern Market tasting room on Riopelle St.
Flower Day Event
Throughout the year, the Eastern Market hosts a lot of events that are worth attending. In late March, for instance, you can attend the All Things Detroit & Food Truck Rally in the district. However, the most popular celebration is Flower Day.
Flower Day at the Eastern Market in Detroit is the largest open-air flowerbed market event of the year, attracting about 150,000 people. This time-honored event started in 1967, with hundreds of flower growers from Michigan, Canada, and other states filling the market with prized assortments.
Among the 15 acres of hearty flower varieties, you can find unusual orchids, snapdragons, hanging baskets, shrubs, and so much more. The growers even share tips for how to make their plants flourish.
Even if you don’t purchase flowers, it’s worth visiting the Eastern Market on Flower day just to see the gorgeous display. It happens on the Sunday after Mother’s Day between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. (times may vary).
Are you planning a special event — media event, corporate party, or wedding? Consider renting space for your occasion at the Eastern Market. There’s more than 125,000 square feet of space available, and you could use one of the market’s preferred vendors for catering.
In Shed 5, you can head to the Eastern Market Community Kitchen for Nutrition Education and Detroit Kitchen Connect programs. Every week, it hosts cooking demonstrations and classes for kids and adults.
Also, the Markets and Red Truck event on Fridays has weekly cooking demonstrations. Zoom classes and Facebook Live shows by the Nutrition Education Team are available as well.
For an inside look into the Eastern Market and district as a whole, consider taking a market tour. The knowledgeable and passionate guides tell you about the district’s unique history while exploring the food culture, artwork, neighborhood businesses, and more.
Preservation Detroit Eastern Market Tours
Offering a historical walking tour, Preservation Detroit Eastern Market Tours take you on a journey back to an era of rumrunners, breweries, prisons, graveyards, horse-drawn carriages, and the Underground Railroad. It’s a great way to find out what makes the district so fascinating.
Urban Agriculture Bike Tours by Wheelhouse Detroit
If you would like to cycle around the Eastern Market, join a bike tour with Wheelhouse Detroit. The tour lets you explore the local food system by traveling the route that food takes from local farms to your plate.
Feet on the Street Tours
Operating out of the Eastern Market in Detroit, Feet on the Street Tours was founded by Linda Yellin in 2007 because she wanted people to experience what the city has to offer and to see how they can connect with and support the city.
“We encourage people to experience, explore, and enjoy the city through fun, food, art, architecture, history, music, and unique neighborhoods.”— Linda Yellin, Founder
The company offers a range of public tours — such as the Murals in the Market and the Come Hungry, Leave Happy tours. On the other hand, you can customize a private tour to anywhere in the city. You can do the tours on foot, by car, or by bus.
Check out this personal experience of touring Eastern Market with Feet on the Street Tours:
“I went on their most popular tour which is the food-based “Come Hungry, Leave Happy” tour of Eastern Market. As we walked within the market, I tasted foods from local vendors in the outdoor sheds, as well as in private stores.
“Along the way, our knowledgeable and passionate tour guides gave the 25+ of us some history behind Eastern Market, along with the current and future plans for the district. It’s not only a destination for foodies and Flower Day-goers, but it’s also becoming known as an art and entertainment destination.
“We took our feet off of the street for a bit to dine at Supino Pizzeria. Once featured on the Food Network, its crisp, thin-crust pizza and unique toppings leave market visitors always yearning for more. Chicken wings and sunny-side eggs on a pizza, anyone?
“We walked off the pizza with a stroll through Gratiot Central Market, a warehouse for meat and seafood lovers. I found myself staring in awe at the display cases. You’ll find colorful artwork outside and within to lead the way through the meat market.
“Throughout the tour, we also walked by several large colorful murals donning the walls of buildings through Eastern Market, many of which came about during the recent Murals in the Market festival. I spent a few extra minutes capturing the Eastern Market Farmer’s mural, which sits on the side of the Cost Plus Wine Shoppe.
“The tour ended at Bert’s Warehouse Theater, a jazz, blues, and live entertainment venue at Bert’s Market Place. We looked at the murals that depict the history of Detroit along its inside entrance walls. The one depicting the Bob-Lo boat moving along the Detroit River brought back memories of my youth.
“After the tour, I walked back through some of the venues for some goodies and used discount coupons I received as a tour attendee.”— Aaron Cruz
Fun Activities & Historic Sites in the Eastern Market District
Can you believe that there’s even more to do in the Eastern Market District? You can take Segway tours, go tailgating, walk the greenway, and visit some stunning historic churches.
Segways are powerful machines that glide along city streets at up to 12.5 mph, and you can have a fun time driving them with Detroit Segways. It’s a unique way to tour all of downtown Detroit from the Eastern Market. You can choose from a range of tours:
- Cruise the Cut is a 1-hour tour for a brief ride through the city.
- Downtown Holiday Lights Ride is a 1.5 to 2-hour that explores downtown during the holidays.
- Rollin’ on the River(front) is a 2-hour tour along the East RiverWalk.
- Urbanity is a 2.5-hour tour that explores downtown.
- Bright Lights, Big City is a 2.5-hour tour that goes to entertainment venues.
- Whole Shebang is a 3-hour tour that goes everywhere.
Detroit Lions Tailgating
Sure, you could go to an official Detroit Lions tailgate party, but you get a totally different experience tailgating at the Eastern Market. During home games, the parking lots are full of energy and fans gathering to support the team.
Dequindre Cut Greenway
Built on the old Grand Trunk Railroad line, the Dequindre Cut is a 1.35-mile greenway through a beautiful part of the city. It’s ideal for biking, walking, exercising, and discovering artwork.
From the Eastern Market’s Shed 6, head east to the Dequindre Cut Parking Lot on Wilkins St to start the trail. The about 30-minute walk leads to William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, where you can connect to the Detroit RiverWalk, one of the best summer things to do in downtown Detroit.
Sacred Heart Church
A group of German-American Catholics founded Sacred Heart Church in 1875 on the corner of (what are now) Eliot St and Rivard St. In 1911, Black Catholics organized their own parish in a St. Mary’s School. Just a few years later, they bought a small church and named it St. Peter Claver.
With a dwindling German population, though, the church was moved to Sacred Heart Church in September 1938, renaming it Sacred Heart Parish. The church was ministered by the Holy Ghost priests, and the school was staffed by the Felician Sisters.
You can read more about this fascinating history and the Black congregation on the Michigan Historical Marker next to the building.
St. Joseph Oratory Catholic Church
Established in 1855, St. Joseph Oratory Catholic Church was dedicated in 1873. The building has remained practically unaltered for more than 150 years. The rich heritage of sacred music complements the impressive interior.
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
In 1850, the first Missouri Synod Lutheran Church was founded in Detroit. Soon after, it became the Mother Church of Detroit Lutheranism. Then, 13 mission congregations throughout the city turned into 132 Lutheran parishes.
What started as a wooden frame chapel on Larned St was moved to Gratiot Ave in 1866 to a dedicated red brick building. The present Historic Trinity Lutheran Church, however, was built in 1931 with the finest craftsmanship and materials.
You can see the best ceremonial art in the church’s brass, glass, stone, tile, and wood. The architecture is 16th-century Pier and Clerestory Gothic, like what you see in European cathedrals. You can read the on-site Michigan Historical Marker to learn more. Plus, the church is absolutely striking!
Frequently Asked Questions About the Eastern Market in Detroit
What days are Eastern Market open in Detroit?
Eastern Market hours depend on which market you attend, but the actual hours may still vary. All year, though, the Saturday Market, Sunday Market, and Tuesday Market are open on their respective days. Holiday Markets open at various times of year too.
How big is Eastern Market in Detroit?
With six sheds, the Eastern Market farmers’ market venues are 4.5 acres across several city blocks near downtown. However, all of the Eastern Market District is 43 acres and is the biggest historic public market district in the nation.
What vendors are at Eastern Market?
The Eastern Market in Detroit is a place where vendors of all kinds set up to sell a huge array of produce, meat, other livestock products, spices, prepared foods, and so much more.
Is Eastern Market cash only?
Although some vendors accept debit and credit cards, not all of them do. To avoid payment issues, we recommend that you bring cash for all of your purchases.
Also, many of the district businesses and market vendors accept SNAP benefits and Bridge Cards. You can check with each vendor before completing your purchase. Stop by the Welcome Center or Information Booth for information about Double Up Food Bucks when using your benefits.
What day is Eastern Market Flower Day?
Flower Day occurs every year on the Sunday after Mother’s Day, bringing the biggest selection of flowers you’ve ever seen.
Discover More in Detroit Near the Eastern Market
While there’s certainly plenty to explore in the Eastern Market in Detroit, the city has even more to discover. For example, Campus Martius Park in downtown is just a stone’s throw away and offers family-friendly activities and new experiences in every season.