County fairs can be found all over the US, and they’re full of food, fun and more food! For some, going to the fair is a longstanding tradition, others prefer to avoid the crowds and costs. Going to the fair, however, can make for a great date night!
Ana and I recently went to the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. While its humble beginnings can be traced back to 1880 when it started as a small agricultural fair, the San Diego County Fair now draws more than 1 million annual visitors.
Whether you are looking for thrilling rides, heart-stopping food, or the perfect Instagram picture, the fair has something for everyone. Here are some of the things the San Diego County Fair has to offer, and some things to look for at the fair near you:
When I think of the fair, the food is the first thing that comes to my mind. They have deep fried EVERYTHING: Twinkies, Oreos, pizza, lemonade, and so much more. They have rice bowls served in pineapple halves, and over-sized hot dogs. Want something a little healthier? How about a fatty turkey leg covered in bacon 😀
Rides & Games
What’s more thrilling than strapping in to a giant metal contraption that was assembled last week and designed to hurl you around fifty feet above the ground? At the fair, you’ll find plenty of attractions to help you lose that grease you just ate. For the faint-of-stomach fair-goer, the Ferris wheel is the perfect ride to get that aerial picture of the sun setting over the fairgrounds for your Instagram.
The games are fun if you like losing money haha. Just kidding, the games are designed so that they are very hard to win, but they are fun…just decide on a spending limit before hand.
Music & Entertainment
The folks over at the San Diego Count Fair have scheduled live entertainment from opening to close each day on the many stages scattered across the fairgrounds. No matter your musical preferences, you’re sure to find a great show to watch while you recover from your near-death thrill ride.
There are many fascinating things being sold at the fair. If you wander around long enough, you may even stumble across some free samples! Don’t make eye contact with the vendors though, or you’ll be leaving with a new Jacuzzi or a one-of-a-kind carpet cleaner lol.
Exhibits & Contests
Who wouldn’t want to win a blue ribbon at the county fair!? Prizes are awarded in a huge range of categories from livestock and gardening, to brewing and all sorts of art. You could spend the whole day just meandering through the gallery of submissions, or planning your next landscaping project. Got a fancy camera or other talent? Try submitting something next year!
Events and Other Attractions
If music, rides, and food aren’t your thing, don’t worry. The fair has so many other events like (monster truck rallies, pig races, and even a car show) that I couldn’t possibly touch on all of them. Each year, the fair also chooses a different theme and organizes exhibitions to go along with it. Check it out before you go and time your visit so you don’t miss your favorite stuff.
There is also a good sized kids area with its own rides over on the infield of the horse track, so you’re kids will find plenty to do at the fair too!
If you are really intent on avoiding crowds, your best bet is to visit on a weekday before 6pm…and don’t go on a holiday, obviously.
The fair only comes around once a year! So take a break from the diet you’ve been on for the last month and eat something delicious. You should have done that diet months ago anyways, beach season is already here lol. Next time try doing that diet months ago, you could eat a humongous funnel cake and still feel great 😉
Parking is always a nightmare. This year we parked at the Horse Park (just on the east side of the freeway) and took a shuttle to the fairgrounds. There ended up being plenty of parking and the shuttle ride didn’t take too long. We also didn’t have to deal with a lot of traffic getting back out of the Horse Park (which can take forever at any of the main lots). The best part was that it’s free!
Set a budget before you go. Knowing how much you want to spend ahead of time can help you avoid breaking the bank on a single date night. If you’re like me, setting a budget also makes it easier to spend money…$20 isn’t a huge amount to spend, so just get the overpriced, over-fried food you’ve been daydreaming about all week. Besides, where else are you going to find a foot long corn dog?
If you missed the fair this year, look up a street fair near where you live. Street fairs are an excellent way to satisfy that fried food urge you’ve been having. In San Diego, they have street fairs all the time, so you won’t have to wait long. Also, the horse races start just after the fair ends, and they usually have a great Friday concerts after the races.
They made a recommendation this year at the fair I had never heard before, but I thought it was a good idea: if you take young kids to the fair, take a picture of them with your phone before you go in. If you lose track of them, the picture may become very helpful in relocating them (so others know who to look for).
Have fun at the fair!