From oooey-gooey fair food to carnival rides and nights on the grandstand, summer at the San Diego County Fair promises loads of fun at the Del Mar Fairgrounds beginning Wednesday.
Let us guide you to the basics, from admission and parking, to concert highlights and special exhibits to view during the four weeks of the fair.
“Get Out There” – or ¡Explórala! in Spanish – celebrates the great outdoors. As part of the 2023 theme, guests are invited to take part in scavenger hunts, learn about national and state parks and celebrate the mountains, deserts and beaches of the Golden State. They also may earn badges and ribbons playing “Fair Camp” games – for kids of all ages – from arts and crafts to relay races.
Days and hours
The fair starts Wednesday and continues through its traditional July 4 finale.
The fair is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in June.
The fair is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
- Wednesdays, Thursdays and July 3: adults (13 and up) $15; seniors (62+) $12; youth (6-12) $12, and children 5 and under, free.
- Fridays: adults $20; seniors $17; youth and children 5 and under, free
- Saturdays, Sundays and July 4: adults $20; seniors and youth $17, and children 5 and under, free.
- General: $20; $15 if paid online in advance
- Preferred: $50
- Horsepark (off-site): $10
- Torrey Pines High School, 3710 Del Mar Heights Road: Free
Purchase fair parking online. Tickets are valid only for the date selected at the point of sale; no refunds or exchanges. Fair parking lots are cashless and only accept credit card payments.
Check out the fair’s Tickets & Deals page for admission and parking discounts. For instance, promo codes are available at select stores, including Vons, Albertsons, Northgate Markets, 7-Eleven and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Fridays, Kids Day, those under 12 are admitted free.
Toyota Summer Concert Series
Tickets for the concert series are on sale online along with the full list of performers. All grandstand tickets include same-day fair admission. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Here’s a selection of scheduled acts:
- Wednesday – Train; $40-$95.
- Friday – Kevin Hart; $73-$848 (top VIP package)
- June 11 – La Adictiva; $25-$50.
- June 17 – Lynyrd Skynyrd; $51-$106.
- June 18 – Grupo Bronco; $30-60.
- June 22– Boyz II Men; $35-$75.
- June 24 – Stephen Marley with Hirie; $30-$65.
- June 25 – Los Tigres del Norte; $35-$80.
- June 29 – Elle King and Randy Houser; $35-$65; show begins at 7 p.m.
- July 3 – Switchfoot; $25–$50.
- July 4 – Fireworks Spectacular; $20-$25
Chevrolet Paddock Concert Series
See cover bands doing your faves throughout the fair, with most shows beginning at 8 p.m. Performers salute everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire and Nirvana to Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra. Attendance at these shows is included in the price of fair admission.
Festivals and special events
- Saturday: Out at the Fair, on Chevrolet Paddock Stage
- June 17: Wine Festival; Asian & Pacific Islander Festival
- June 24: Gospel Festival, on Chevrolet Paddock Stage
- July 1: Beer Festival
The Fair boasts 115 food vendors, nine of them new this year, serving up everything from funnel cakes and gyros to aguas frescas and one pound blocks of cheese.
There’s also tastes of classic campfire cuisine, including flame-cooked barbecue and s’mores. But also check out the new Fair-tastic Foods Competition in which some of the fair’s most popular vendors compete to out-fair each other.
What do we mean? Here’s some of the finalists in the Wow! and theme categories (fair-tastic indeed):
- Gourmet Snickers Fairs Caramel Apple – apple hand-dipped in hot caramel, coated with peanuts, dipped in chocolate, topped with chocolate drizzle and more peanuts.
- Mermaid Float – Blue Ocean soda float, topped with whipped cream and cotton candy, garnished with a lollipop and gummy candies, finished with Neptune sprinkles.
- Loaded Cheese Stick – cheese-on-a-stick sliced open, stuffed with cheese curds, jalapeño poppers, chili and onions, and topped with more shredded cheese.
- Maple Bacon Bomb – famous original cinnamon roll, topped with cream cheese frosting, California-grown walnuts, delicious crisp bacon crumbles, drizzled with maple syrup.
- Fried Cheetos Potstickers – chicken potstickers dipped in batter, fried, tossed in crunchy spicy crumbled Cheetos
- S’mores Hot Chocolate – the drink with graham cracker dusted rim, toasted marshmallow cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips with a stick of toasted mini marshmallows in a souvenir carabiner handled camping mug.
- S’mores Spuds – Hot Krinkle cut fries with melted chocolate and marshmallows on top.
Various exhibits put ribbon winners from throughout the county on display. A glimpse of the lineup:
- Best of Pre-K to 6th Grade, Grandstand West
- Design in Wood, Mission Tower
- Fine Art, Grandstand East
- Flower Show, O’Brien Hall
- Garden Show
- Gems, mineral and jewelry, Mission Tower
- Home Made, Exhibit Hall
- Photography, Grandstand East
- Livestock/agriculture, Family Funville
- Student Showcase, Grandstand West