Smart tips to save money at the fair

The San Diego County Fair runs through July 4.   Courtesy photo of the fair. Photo credit: Dave Gatley

The San Diego County Fair runs through July 4. Courtesy photo of the fair. Photo credit: Dave Gatley

Luisa Sausedo

We all know that the San Diego County Fair, through July 4 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, can be a great place to have fun with friends and family, but going can be costly for college students — or anyone for that matter. Here are some tips and tricks on how to have fun at the fair on a budget.

Buying your tickets ahead of time could help you save not only money, but time as well. Participating Albertsons and Vons grocery stores across San Diego County are selling discounted ticket admissions during June. They also offer a season pass that allows you access to the fair every day it is open for $26.

If you’re planning on attending the fair more then once the season pass might be your best offer considering that a one day ticket costs $16 for adults. However, once you are inside the fair there is a booth that offers a $4 entry pass for the next time you visit the fair, but you need to give out some information to obtain the voucher.

One huge reason people come to the fair is to eat but buying food at the fair can add up. If you’re trying to save money, you might want to re-think that $8 corn dog and pack a sandwich instead.

The fair allows you to bring in food and drinks as long as there are no glass containers, alcohol, and if your drinks are factory sealed, you’re good to go. If you can’t resist the urge to buy food there, $15 per person should be enough for food and a drink.

Make a plan for parking, which can be a nightmare and costly. The fair has made it easy and offers a free-parking option.

Free parking is offered on certain days of the fair at three different locations: the Horsepark Equestrian Center, Torrey Pines High School and MiraCosta College – San Elijo Campus.

A shuttle service to the O’Brien gate entrance of the fair and back the parking lot you’re parked is available every 15-20 minutes at no extra charge. Plan to go when free parking is available; otherwise, you will pay $10 for parking.

Looking for a fun date night, but don’t have much cash? That’s OK. The fair offers lots of free events that are included with your ticket admission, including things like pig races, demolition derbies and free concerts offered daily. By going to the fair’s website you can find a listing of daily events that are included with your ticket admission.

Make sure to go on a day where there is something you’re interested in seeing.

Game and wrist band tickets can add up. If you’re trying to save money, try picking out your top one or two rides and buy the ticket amount for those rides only. Each ticket costs 75 cents and a wrist band costs $35. The wrist band offers unlimited ride access to anyone wearing one.

Make sure to be aware of the days you’re going if you plan on buying yourself or your little ones a wrist band. Some of the wrist bands are only available on certain days so check ahead of time to make sure you’re good to go. If you’re interested in playing games at the fair, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon until 8 p.m. would be the best time to go considering that all games are half-priced during that period.

The fair is one of the popular events that kick off summer. Follow these tips to keep your money in your pocket so you can do more this summer.