How to Get the Most Fun for Your Money at the OC Fair! (Giveaway!)

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The OC Fair is coming up in just a couple of weeks and it’s no secret that this is one of my absolute favorite things to do every Summer with my family. We haven’t missed a year since we started going when my oldest was little! I usually save up a little cash ahead of time so that we can thoroughly enjoy our visit without breaking the bank. You might be surprised at how much FREE and cheap fun the fair can offer! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for an awesome giveaway too!

How to Save Money at the OC Fair!

Admission

Possibly one of the easiest ways to save money is with free or discounted admission!

Regular admission is $12 for adults, $7 for seniors 60+ and kids 6-12. Kids 5 and under are always free.

Super Pass – If you plan on visiting the fair multiple times throughout the season, the Super Pass is the way to go. It’s $35 for the pass ($28 for Seniors and Kids 6-12) and it is good every single day that the fair is open!

Opening Hour – On Opening Day (July 15th) you get free admission and parking between noon and 1:00pm. It’s a very busy hour, so be sure to arrive early so you can get in before 1:00! If you don’t have a lot of time this is a really awesome way to get a peek at this year’s fair offerings and plan future visits accordingly.

San Diego County and Ventura County Bounceback Offer – Fair lovers from San Diego or Ventura County get a little bonus! Bring your San Diego County Fair or Ventura County Fair ticket stub for one free admission to the OC Fair, on any day the fair is open. San Diego Fair Best Pass Ever holders can also get one free ticket by taking their pass to guest services.

Ikea Family Member Discount – Members of Ikea Family can use this coupon to save $2 off admission any day the fair is open.

Military & Veteran Discount – Active-duty military and veterans get free OC Fair admission. You can also purchase up to six (6) half-price general admission tickets for friends or family. Both promotions are valid all 23 days that the fair is open. (Military ID required.)

We Care Wednesday – This is probably my favorite way to get free admission. You can enjoy your free admission and feel good about doing it! Each Wednesday has a different donation requirement. Each person who donates will receive one free admission and one free carnival ride. Details on donations can be found here.

Kids Day – Every Thursday, Kids 12 and under get free admission!

Seniors Day – Every Friday, Seniors get $2 off admission plus FREE Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides all day!

Rise & Shine Weekends – Every Saturday and Sunday get $3 general admission tickets for everyone! Discounted tickets are sold between 10:00 and 11:00 am and must be used by Noon on the day of purchase.

OC Fair Express – Ride the OC Fair Express and get a coupon for $3 admission!

Group Tickets – Have a big family? Save a little money if you buy 15 tickets or more. Group tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for youth and seniors. Must fill out the order form for group sales.

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Food & Drink

It wouldn’t be a fair without eating some deep fried goodness, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a variety of over-the-top culinary creations!

$2 Samples – On Thursdays only, from noon to 4pm you’ll find a selection of $2 samples at different booths throughout the fair. A great way to try a lot of things without spending a lot!

Bring food from home – I’m not telling you to avoid the fair food! You should absolutely indulge. But, you can supplement some of your meals with snacks from home to make your money go a little farther. I like to bring some veggies and fruit to balance out the bacon and batter.

Get a souvenir cup – We always grab a souvenir cup for soda and enjoy cheap refills all day long. You can get free small cups of water at some booths, or bring your own water bottle from home to stay hydrated.

Share with friends/family – I love going with a lot of people because everyone can taste the food together. You buy one item and everyone takes a bite. Then someone else buys something and we all taste it. And so on. At the end of the day, each person only had to buy one or two things but got to taste everything. (This won’t work if you’re weird about eating after other people.)

Coupons – (Unconfirmed) Since the fair hasn’t begun, I can’t confirm this, but every year in the past we’ve gotten coupon books, usually via groupon deal or ride wristband purchase, that includes buy one get one free food coupons. Keep an eye out for these!

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Rides & Games

Read & Ride  Fill out this form and bring it to Centennial Farm Information Booth during fair hours for 3 free carnival rides. (Kids ages 5-11 only). You can do this twice over the course of the fair season, but only once in a visit.

$30 Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristband – On Wednesdays and Thursdays until 5:00 pm you can buy a wristband for unlimited rides, plus two free games! The wristband can be used until 8:oo pm.

$2 Rides and Games – On Fridays from Noon-4 pm, rides and games are only $2 each in the Main Carnival and Kiddie Carnival.

Parking

Parking is always a big one! Regular parking is $10 per vehicle, cash only. But on those busy weekends there are plenty of great cheap and low-cost options to get you to the fair!

OC Fair Express – Take the OC Fair Express from 9 locations direct to the OC Fair and receive a coupon for $3 general admission (one coupon per person). $2 each way Hours – Friday: noon to midnight, Saturday & Sunday: 10am to midnight. More info here.

Free Off-Site Weekend Parking and Shuttle – Free parking and shuttle service is available on Saturdays and Sundays from the Experian parking structure located off the Bristol Street exit of the 405 Freeway. Follow the signs to “Experian.” The shuttle operates from 10 am-1 am Saturday & Sunday only.

Street Parking – Very limited street parking is available surrounding TeWinkle Park, adjacent to the fairgrounds. It’s a bit of a walk, but if you get there early it’s a great way to save!

Ride your bike – Bike racks are conveniently located near each public entrance – Blue Gate, Green Gate and Yellow Gate – for no charge. Guests must bring their own lock.

Entertainment

Rides and games are great but there is also a ton of free entertainment to enjoy at the fair!

Live Music – While The Hangar and The Pacific Amphitheatre are the most well-known for amazing concerts throughout the fair season, you can also enjoy FREE live music at several different areas, including Baja Blues Bar and Restaurant, The Meadows Stage, and the Promenade Stage. During the day time, The Hangar is usually open with local bands playing for anyone to watch for free.

Animals – Walk through Centennial Farm, pet baby chicks, and check out all of the livestock. Animal-lovers can also enjoy the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs every day for free, and the Wild West Turkey Stampede (also free) August 10 through 14. There’s also a petting zoo which is usually free to get in, a couple of bucks for some food, and shaded!

Amazing Acts – On the Heritage Stage you’ll find free daily shows from Mark Yuzuik Comedy Hypnotist, or Peking Acrobats, depending on the time of day! The Russell Brothers Circus has its own little big top at the fair for family-friendly free fun.

Culinary Arts – Don’t miss exciting, live culinary demonstrations in the OC Promenade. All demonstrations are FREE and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Kid Zone – Beat the heat in the Kid Zone tent! Lots of fun and free kid-friendly activities. Last year’s kid zone included a reptile booth,  bug exhibit, coloring, toddler play area, and more.

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No matter what, I always grab a bucket of mini donuts on our way out of the fair to enjoy on the ride home. It usually costs about $12 and we can’t leave without one.

Did I miss any discounts? Let me know in the comments!

GIVEAWAY

One lucky reader will win an “OC Fair Family Packet” that contains 4 General Admission Tickets and 2 Carnival Ride Cards (3 Free Rides Per Card) to help save you even more money on your fair visit! To enter, comment below telling me your favorite thing about the OC Fair.

For an extra entry, tweet the message below. (Leave another comment with the tweet link, can do this once per day!)

Enter to #win free tickets to the @ocfair from @SocalLocale! #ocfair #orangecounty #socal http://socallocale.com/save-money-at-the-oc-fair/

Giveaway ends July 11th at 11:59pm. Must be 18 or over and local to Southern California. Transportation not provided. Parking is not included with the giveaway. Each carnival ride card is valid for three rides or games in either the Main or Kiddie Carnivals. Ride Cards are not valid for food or drinks. Admission and/or ride cards do not have to be used on the same day. Prize must be redeemed during the 2016 OC Fair. Prize fulfillment is provided by OC Fair and will be mailed to the winner.

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About Angela Bishop

Angela is a Florida transplant who has been living in Orange County since 2004. She loves music, driving on the freeway (even in the SoCal traffic), trying new foods, and traveling near and far. When she’s not covering local events, she’s talking about her crazy family over on http://mommy-mania.com.

Comments

  1. Carly Hickey says:

    My favorite thing about the OC fair are memories…I grew up going to this fair and now I take my children there 🙂

  2. Susan N. says:

    My favorite thing is taking my grandkids to the fair and buying them treats!!!!!

  3. We are finally moving back to California next week,just in time to go to the fair. I want to take my kiddies to the farm and also get funnel cakes.

  4. The best thing about the fair is the food. We also like to go to the kids area and the art displays. We re looking forward to getting roasted corn and deep fried oreos.

  5. We are finally moving back to California next week, just in time for the fair. I am looking forward to taking the kids to the farm and getting them funnel cakes!

  6. Blake N. says:

    The best part of the fair is the performances at the Hanger. Can’t wait to take my girlfriend.

  7. Monika B. says:

    My kids always love to see the animals! I like the funnel cake. 🙂

  8. Justine says:

    My favorite thing at the Fair: Livestock. Well, and the Texas donuts. 🙂

  9. Lori Rehnert says:

    I love the food at the fair! Also the gardens, fruits and vegetables contests, and livestock!

  10. Karen Grimsley says:

    My favorite thing about the fair are the concerts! It’s a great way me and my teenage son get some good bonding time! Then we get to enjoy the fair both before and after the show. Love the fair!

  11. Jia Yee says:

    My favorite thing about the OC fair is all the fair food! Plus it’s during my daughter’s birth month so it’s become tradition!

  12. Deanna C. says:

    My favorite thing about the OC Fair is that every year my little family crams into one of those black and white photo strip booths and takes a new photo. I can’t wait to add another picture to our collection!

  13. Stacie Corner says:

    Going to the OC Fair reminds me of Summertime and my childhood! Every year we would go and browse the booths and get all the free stuff! It was the best. I still have to go every year and bring my kids. My favorite thing to see each year is the new baby piglets!

  14. we like to try out the new food items.

  15. Katherine Benard says:

    I love looking at all the talented things that other members of my community do. I make sure to see the great arts and crafts and the culinary entries every year.

  16. Lindsay says:

    I love it all but my favorite is the food!

  17. Karan Shuster says:

    We love the atmosphere, food, animals and rides. My kids also love the big balls that float in the water.

  18. Jenieve Badajoz says:

    I love the fair because it’s a great way to celebrate my birthday with my family!

  19. Andrea C says:

    I love the concerts, newest food creations, Carnival of Products, farm animals (esp the baby pigs!!) So excited…can’t wait!!!

  20. Amanda B. says:

    My favorite think about the fair is the building with at the blue ribbon crafts! I love walking around and seeing at the beautiful work people can do!

  21. My favorite thing is the art pavillion, along with the demos, deep fried oreos, and the adorable 4h goats.

  22. jeccica simpson says:

    My favorite things at the fair of course the food!! The exhibits and the animals. We go every year a family tradition!

  23. jeccica simpson says:
  24. My favorite thing is the livestock; my son’s favorite thing are the rides.

  25. We love looking at all the animals its really the only reason we go!

  26. I wan’t to take my non verbal autistic son he’s 13 years old, he loves see people’s and eat all the good stuff sells in the fair we went the las’t year and he like’s the little rides and the animals and of course the food.

  27. My favorite thing about the OC Fair is watching my kids try new rides. They gain new courage each year as they grow older 🙂

  28. sonia stech says:

    I love the live music and animals.

  29. sonia stech says:
  30. people watching on the people mover and who are we kidding, the food!

  31. Nancy Dlr says:

    The best part is all the yummy food!!!! I can’t miss going every year!!

  32. Sara Sturhann says:

    My favorite thing is to go with friends! We get the kids ride wristbands and eat/drink yummy stuff while the kids go on rides.

  33. Jennifer says:

    My favorite thing about the fair is the food! Love the bacon maple donut! And we love the pig races! We take the kids every year!

  34. Emily Lawrence says:

    We love have a family photo taken in the retro photo booths each year!

  35. Elisa Marks says:

    We’ve never been but hope to take my two little guys this year. I hear it’s great and so much more enjoyable than the LA County fair!

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