San Diego County Fair 2022: What to know before you go 🎡

San Diego County Fair
t’s fair to say, we’ve missed this place. | Photo via San Diego County Fair

The Grand Wheel. The wild, fried fare. The summer concerts on the Grandstand Stage. All this could only mean one thing: The San Diego County Fair returns to the Del Mar Fairgrounds from Wed., June 8-Mon., July 4.

The longtime event began as an agricultural fair in 1880. In 1936, it moved to Del Mar where it has grown into a summertime staple — and one of the largest county fairs in the United States. This year marks the fair’s first full-scale edition since 2019, so we want to prep you with everything you need to know before you go. Ride with us.

San Diego County Fair
Del Mar Fairgrounds: Where the wheel meets the sea. | Photo via San Diego County Fair

🎟️ Hours, tickets, parking

  • During its four-week run, the fair is open Wednesdays-Sundays and the gates open at 11 a.m. It’s closed Mondays + Tuesdayswith the exception of Mon., July 4, when it’s open for its final day.
  • Tickets + parking passes are only available for purchase in advance online. Admission costs $12-20; kids age 5 and under get in free every day, and kids 12 and under get in free every Friday.
  • Parking is available on and off site — prices range by proximity to the fairgrounds. 
  • Pro tip: If you visit mid-week, admission is $5 cheaper; you can also score $3 off with a promo code from Albertsons + Vons.

    San Diego County Fair
    Get jazzed for some big names at the Grandstand Stage. | Photo via San Diego County Fair

🎶 The concerts

Some big names are headlining the Toyota Summer Concert Series. All concert tickets include same-day fair admission and start at 7:30 p.m.

The lineup

🦸‍♀️ The theme

Heroes ReUnite!” is this season’s theme. We hear there’s a Hall of Heroes Theme Exhibit where you can test your superpowers with interactive physical challenges + brush up on the history of superheroes. Community heroes will be honored, too — everyday folks who make San Diego a better place.

San Diego County Fair
Decisions, decisions: What are you eating at the fair? | Photo via San Diego County Fair

🍗 The fried fair fare

As always, expect a lot of fried food along the midway and bacon-wrapped concoctions.

Pro tip: We always gravitate towards Chicken Charlie’s to see what’s new in the world of deep-fried fair fare — this year, it’s the “Kool-Aid Fried Chicken Sandwich” tossed in a sweet + tangy sauce. Oh yeah. Also, check out the fried avocadosit shouldn’t work yet, somehow, it does. Save room for sweet treats from all kinds of vendors, too.

🍻 The festivals

The fair hosts its fair share of festivals throughout its run:

  • Toast of the Coast | Sat., June 11 | 1-4 p.m. | The Paddock | $30 | Calling all winos: General admission includes five 1-ounce pours and a commemorative tasting cup. 🍷
  • San Diego International Beer Festival | Sat., June 18 + Sun., June 19 | First Saturday Session: 1-4 p.m.; Second Saturday Session: 4-7 p.m.; Sunday: 1-4 p.m. | Del Mar Arena | $60 | Nearly 200 breweries from around the world will showcase their suds — general admission gets you a souvenir tasting cup, unlimited samples + same-day admission into the fair. 🍺
  • Distilled Spirit + Cocktail Festival | Sat., July 2 | 12-4 p.m. | Garden Show Area | $35 | General admission includes five quarter-ounce pours + 1-ounce pours on mixed cocktails. 🥃
San Diego County Fair
Winner, winner (fried) chicken dinner. | Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

🖼️ The exhibits

The San Diego County Fair is known for its many competitive exhibits spanning all kinds of interests. Head to the halls to explore a flower or garden show, fine art, homemade crafts, artistic woodworking, photography, and the student showcase — or learn about beer, spirits + wine.

San Diego County Fair
The Grand Wheel keeps on turnin’. | Photo via San Diego County Fair

🗓️ Final game plan

Of course, no fair is complete without rides + games, and the San Diego County Fair will have plenty of those, too. This daily calendar of events will also help you map out your visit. Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time to explore it all — and wear comfy shoes. 🎡