Saving Money at the San Diego County Fair

Fear not, bargain hunters, there are many ways to enjoy the fair on the cheap this summer

It’s the month some San Diegans have been waiting for all year: the San Diego County Fair is here.

While a fun-filled day at the fair can be pricey, there are ways to visit the Del Mar Fairgrounds without breaking the bank. It’s all about scouting out the deals, so here are some ways to save money this year:

Free Admission July 3 with Padres Home Game Stub: In honor of the late great Tony Gwynn, fairgoers can get free admission to the San Diego County Fair on Thursday, July 3, if they present a Padres home game ticket stub from the 2014 baseball season.

Best Pass Ever: For those planning to hit the fair more than once this season, this pass is your ticket to a pretty good deal. For $24, you get admission to all 24 days of the fair. Normally, a one-day ticket costs $14 per adult, so the math is quite simple here. The Best Pass Ever is on sale now through July 5.

Albertsons/Sav-on $4 Fair Days: Visit the fair for only $4 per person on either June 7 or June 11 by buying your one-day ticket at San Diego County Albertsons/Sav-on stores. In order to score this deal, you must buy a minimum $10 purchase at Albertsons.

Passport to Savings: Purchase a Passport to Savings booklet, which has more than $1,000 in promotional savings valid at the fair and around San Diego County. Deals featured in the booklet include a free ticket to return to the fair, discounts on fair food, rides, games and souvenirs. The booklet can be purchased at the fair every day for $5 or online at a discount.

PennySaver Value Day: Every Friday, fair bargain hunters will receive a PennySaver Value Day booklet full of coupons on food, beverages and other products.

Midway Game Coupons: For $10, fairgoers can pre-pay for these game sheets and save 50 percent on games at the fair. A $10 sheet includes $20 worth of game coupons.

Midway Coupons: For $15, fairgoers get 25 ride coupons. Typically, kiddie rides at the fair require 3-4 coupons, while major and super rides range from 4 to 10 coupons.

Pepsi Pay One-Price-Ride-All-Day Wristbands: Purchase a one-day wristband at the fair for $35, which allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kids’ Zone rides all day until 6 p.m.

Fair Deals from Car Dealers: Visit a San Diego County Ford dealer and get four adult admission tickets for $32, valid for weekdays. Visit a San Diego County Toyota dealer and get a 2-for-1 adult admission coupon.

Visit on Kids’ Day: Tuesday, June 24 and Tuesday, July 1 is Kids’ Day at the fair and children 12 and under get in free. Admission for kids ages 6-12 is $8 on normal days). Children 5 and under get in free all fair season long.

Read to Get in Free: Here’s another great reason to get your kids to read this summer. Children 12 and younger who read 10 or more books verified by a teacher or librarian get free admission to any day of the fair. Click here to print out the certificate needed to score this deal.

Enter a One-Day Contest: Those who enter certain one-day competitive exhibits contest get free admission to the fair.

Save on Parking: While parking at the fairgrounds costs $10 per car, thrifty fairgoers can park free every day at the Horsepark Equestrian Center on the corner of Via de la Valle and El Camino Real. Free shuttle buses will take visitors straight to the fair and run from 9 a.m. until midnight. On Saturdays, Sundays and on July 4, free parking is available at the MiraCosta College San Elijo campus and at Torrey Pines High School.

Fair Tripper: Ride the train or bus to the fair and save cash on parking. The Amtrak and COASTER stop at the Solana Beach Station just north of the fair, while the North County Transit District’s route 408 offers direct service between Escondido and the fair. Buy the special “Fair Tripper” combo package for $15 and get round-trip fare on the COASTER and Sprinter trains and Breeze buses, shuttle transportation to the fair gates and adult admission to the fair.

Save on Snacks: Bring your own lunch or drinks to the fare, with the exception of alcohol, glass containers or knives of any kind, just make sure your beverages are sealed before entering the gates. If you plan to buy food at the fair, opt for a Kids’ meal at Meal Deal vendors, which includes an entrée, side dish, drink and child’s admission to local attractions. Visit on either June 24 or July 1 and enjoy “Taste of the Fair” -- $2 taste-sized portions of some fair favorites, including corn dogs, fudge, fish tacos and cinnamon rolls. Taste of the Fair lasts from opening until 5 p.m.

Don’t Forget the Free Attractions, Shows, Exhibits and Events with Admission: All of the fair’s competitive exhibits are free with admission. Entertainment is free across nine stages, plus daily animal or motor sports shows in the Del Mar Arena. All entertainment is free with admission, with the exception of a few Grandstand shows.

The San Diego County Fair, or "Fab Fair," as it's called this year, is open through July 6. For more details, visit the fair website.

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