San Diego County Fair

Tips on saving money BEFORE you go to the San Diego County Fair

NBC 7 Responds shares tips and tricks to enjoy the summer tradition without busting your budget

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The San Diego County Fair is officially underway in Del Mar.

For many San Diego families, like Dawn Neldon’s, it’s a summer tradition.

“It’s the environment, the food, the color,” Neldon told NBC 7 on opening day.

A trip to the fair can become costly, especially if you have a large family. There’s the price of admission and parking, and once inside, the rides, food and vendors can quickly drain your wallet.

“I bring cash because it helps me see how much I’m spending,” Neldon said. “When you use a card, it’s easier to just lay it down and lose track of how much you’re buying.”

If you plan your day in advance, though, you can actually save quite a bit. For example, if you have a family of four (with kids ages 6-12) and decide to visit the fair last minute on the weekend, you could pay up to $94 for admission. But if you buy your tickets online more than 24 hours in advance and visit on a Wednesday, admission would run you about $58.

Also, active-duty military and veterans get discounts on admission. There’s a special link for those tickets. Costco has a family pack that will save you as well. It includes admission for four people, parking, ride tickets and a coupon book. Neldon bought one for her family.

“This is like a huge hack for the fair," Neldon said. "Inside there are deals on so many food vendors, on different experiences, and so we always get one because that helps us decide what we’re going to eat and what event we’re going to.”

Several retailers are offering coupons, too. You can find all the deals here.

You’ll also save on parking ($5 off general parking) if you buy online in advance, of course, but you can skip the cost and sitting in heavy traffic getting to the fairgrounds by parking for free at Canyon Crest Academy and taking the free shuttle. There's also a “Fair Tripper” pass that’ll get you admission to the fair and a round-trip ride from MTS and the North County Transit District.

One of the main attractions of the fair is the food" While you’ll definitely want to taste a few of those fun treats, you can save some money by bringing in your own snacks and reusable water bottle. Just remember: No alcohol is allowed, and any beverages must be factory-sealed. You’ll want to leave glass containers and metal utensils at home since they’re not allowed inside. For a complete list of what you can and can’t bring with you to the fair, click here.

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