Visit a local market and you will likely go home with plenty of fresh foods and unique items.

This time of year is a great time to enjoy festivals, farmer's markets and craft fairs, as merchants look to liquidate inventory before they prepare for the rush of the upcoming season. Cities and towns will host their share of open markets and more with great deals to be had, and now is an ideal time to visit local shops and stands

Labor Day weekend is tailor-made for getting out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors. With temperatures starting to cool, the weather may be perfect for strolls or sightseeing and breathtaking scenery awash in bright sunshine and breezes. An ideal backdrop for weekend plans, including shopping excursions.

Fresh produce: Farms big and small are bursting with produce. You can find the last vestiges of summer crops mingling with the first fruits of autumn. Grab some tomatoes and start thinking ahead to apples, squashes, lettuces and grapes. You can even start thinking about pumpkin season, both for cooking and carving. Stock the car with reusable tote bags and scour the farmers markets for seasonal finds. Chances are you also might pick up some extra treats, such as fresh honey or canned jams.

Food finds: As plants are harvested, many items are turned into delicious treats. No shopping excursion is complete until you smell a fresh-baked apple pie or some doughnuts. Corn breads and fritters, cranberry snacks and wines from nearby wineries also are easy to find in autumn. These items make welcome additions to your own pantry, or to bring to a friend or family member's home when paying a visit.

Also, don't miss the food-related festivals that pop up on community calendars. From cranberries to potatoes to pumpkins to cheeses, many seasonal items are on display. You also can sample these foods in interesting applications and make a day of gathering recipes and supplies to enjoy later.

Crafts, jewelry and decor: Include a trip to a craft fair, where local vendors come together to display and sell their wares, on your weekend schedule. Handcrafted items make thoughtful and unique gifts, which can be tucked away for giving later in the year.

Booths at these types of events tend to be diverse. Spend the day strolling town squares or closed-off city centers, and you may find some hand-fashioned jewelry or home-crafted artisanal soaps alog with unique items such as painted signs, knit blankets and much more.

Shopping local shops, farms and fairs is a great way to enjoy the fresh autumn air while supporting local businesses.

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