The Mueller Farmers Market offers the opportunity to shop for fresh produce, meat and a variety of other locally produced items in a laid-back, family-friendly environment. With four rows of booths and produce stands, the market is small enough to be thoroughly browsable in under an hour.
The farmers market is located in Lake Park in the center of the Mueller neighborhood, which is a master-planned development built on the site of Austin’s old airport. The availability of such a large chunk of land in the heart of the city created the opportunity to build a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a mix of mid-rise apartments, restaurants and bars, green space and single-family homes. Part of the farmers market occupies the refurbished shell of a hangar from the former airport, making the site easy to spot from a distance.
Things to Do
Many of the booths sell ready-to-eat food, including sandwiches, breakfast tacos, all-natural popsicles and steamed dumplings. You can grab a bite to eat and listen to live music on a small stage in the center of the market or walk over to the stair-stepped boulders next to the lake, grab a seat and enjoy lunch with a view of the lake and a large fountain. If you’re interested in a light workout before or after visiting the farmers market, the park has a 5-mile hike-and-bike trail around the lake. Check the online calendar for special events. The market often hosts chef demonstrations, a petting zoo, karaoke events, classes on reducing food waste, and “culture swaps” for exchanging kefir grains, kombucha SCOBYs (symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast), and sourdough starters with other fermented-food enthusiasts.
Just north of the park, the Aldrich Street retail district is packed with restaurants, shops and entertainment options for all ages. The Thinkery is an activity-focused children’s museum where kids can play while learning about everything from electricity to water conservation. A well-equipped playscape sits right across the street from the museum. For adults, the Alamo Drafthouse offers newly released movies as well as fun themed events such as the Hits of 1999 Video Dance Party. When you’re ready for a bite to eat and a beer, you can head to BD Riley’s Irish Pub.
What to Buy
Every food fad and health trend imaginable appears to be represented at the Mueller Farmers Market. There’s gourmet bone broth for paleo types, duck meat and eggs for low-carb aficionados, gluten-free bread for wheat avoiders, kombucha for those hoping to stimulate their microbiome, and aquaponic lettuce and microgreens for vegetarians and vegans. Other items on sale include medicinal mushrooms, olive oil, sauerkraut, ice cream for dogs, turmeric-based antioxidant drinks, honey, sunflower seed spreads, Texas gulf shrimp and oysters, lavender plants and jackfruit jerky.
How to Get There
Mueller Farmers Market (4209 Airport Boulevard) is easily accessible via the Airport Boulevard exit from Interstate 35. Newcomers might be confused by the street name since the Austin airport is several miles to the southeast. Airport Boulevard got its name way back when the main Austin airport was in this area, and city officials just never changed the street name. Its open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tips for Visiting
On Sundays, most on-street parking is free, but check the signs near your spot to make sure. On Wednesdays, you’ll have to pay at one of the kiosks along the road or park at the McBee Garage. If you plan to buy fresh meat or other perishables, bring a small cooler or insulated bag. You never know how far you may have to walk to get back to your car, and you don’t want your fresh food to spoil along the way. Most of the vendors accept credit and debit cards, but it’s probably wise to have a little cash on hand, just in case. Some of the vendors use tablets or phones as the payment interface, and the screens can be hard to see in bright sunlight. Dogs are welcome, but make sure you keep them on leash and pay close attention to your pets. Many dogs can’t resist the abundant snacking opportunities that are within easy reach. Public restrooms are available near the playscape adjacent to The Thinkery. On the grounds of the farmers market, there are only a few port-a-potties available.