Chocolate-covered Bacon, Cocktail Contests, and More Reasons San Diego Has One of the Best County Fairs in the U.S.
Like most county fairs, San Diego’s began as an event for local farmers to take a break from their hard work to enjoy friendly competition for the best fruits, vegetables, livestock, and recipes as well as to share ideas and learn from one another. The first fair in San Diego was held in 1880, and more than a century later, the month-long 2019 event saw 1,531,199 visitors, according to the Del Mar Times.
Since 1936, the fair has been held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, about 20 miles north of downtown San Diego. Each year, a theme is selected as the focus of many of the events. The theme for 2020 is slated to be “Heroes Unite!” with Superheroes as the stars, and real-life community superheroes will be nominated and honored.
Things to Do at the San Diego County Fair
Eat County Fair Favorites at the 100+ food booths:
With lots to eat, favorites include hot dogs, burgers, pretzels, funnel cakes, fried chicken, candy, and much more. The Del Mar Times reported that 47,000 ears of corn were grilled by Corn Star and three tons of cinnamon and sugar were used to create County Fair Cinnamon Rolls in 2019. Fried Twinkies, chocolate-covered bacon, and other delicacies like spaghetti donuts went along with 14,000 gallons of lemonade.
Friendly Competitions of All Kinds:
The Baby Crawl Derby is a popular event, with 37 entries in the 2019 contest. Other competitions and contests include breweries, spirits & cocktails, wine, needlework crafts, woodworking, floral design, homebrews, band battles, zucchini races, and gardening. Teachers can enter their students’ classroom work in the pre-school and elementary school competition, and collectors display their hobbies to compete for ribbons and prizes.
Rides for Children and Big Kids in the Kids’ Zone & Fun Zone:
More than 80 rides include the Big Top Swinger, Alien Abduction, Alpine Bobs, Slingshot, Crazy Mouse, Sky Ride, and Big Wheel. Roller coasters, cars, carousels, and even a Creep Show and Haunted Mansion.
Concerts and Performances:
The Toyota Summer Concert Series features top entertainment every night, and on eight additional stages located throughout the grounds, visitors can see dance troupes, comedians, DJs, singers, and bands. More than 19,750 entertainers performed at the 2019 County Fair.
2020 San Diego County Fair Dates
The 2020 San Diego County Fair will be open June 5 through July 5. The fair will be closed Mondays.
Single Day Admission prices range from $14 to $20, with children age 5 and under free.
Season Passes valid for all 27 days of the 2020 fair are just $27.
Discounts on food, parking, and more are available too.
Directions and Parking
Use public transportation, and there’s no need to worry about parking. Take a train, bus, or trolley to the fair.
By car, take Interstate 5 to Via de la Valle exit and head west to Jimmy Durante Boulevard; turn left to the Fairgrounds on your right. Parking is available at:
- Torrey Pines High School, 3710 Del Mar Heights Rd., Del Mar Saturdays and Sundays
- MiraCosta College's San Elijo Campus, 3333 Manchester Ave., Cardiff Saturdays and Sundays
- Del Mar Horsepark (just east of the fair), 14550 El Camino Real, Del Mar every day fair is open