When the California State Fair rolls around each July in Sacramento, thousands flock to Cal Expo for guilty-pleasure fair food, free lively entertainment, exciting games, thrilling rides and some all around serious fun. The fair is always a good time, no matter what you see and do. But if you’ve got kids and want to make the most of your time and money, here are some suggestions of things to do and see with your kids.
- DOWNLOAD THE STATE FAIR APP. First and foremost, download the California State Fair app before you even step foot on the fair grounds. This is a great resource to help you navigate all that is offered. Need a map of the grounds to scout out where the closest restroom is? You got it. Want to know where to get the best cold lemonade? The app will tell you. Looking for your favorite vendor? Piece of cake. Don’t want to miss out on the Crowing Contest? You can add it to your schedule and receive an “alert” when the event is about to begin.
- READ TO RIDE. I mention this every year, but still there are people who don’t know about this offer. Butler Amusements, Inc. – the company that provides the rides at the fair, wants to encourage kids to read with the Read to Ride program. Kids in grades K through 8th will receive two free rides for having read two books. Download this form here, have your kiddos write a summary of the books they read, then bring the forms to Guest Services at the front gate to receive two ride passes. Each child is eligible to receive two passes each day they visit the fair.
- GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT. Have fun and collect swag by completing the #50thFairHunt – a fair scavenger hunt that sends you on nine different picture-taking errands throughout the fair. You can find the directions to the scavenger hunt on the CA State Fair app. Once complete, show your digital photo card at any one of the info booths to collect your prize.
- EXPLORE THE DINOSAUR EXPEDITION. Head to Expo Building 4 for up close and personal views of 14 animatronic dinosaurs, exhibit walls, displays, artifacts and interactive fun.
- SAFELY CLIMB A TREE. If it makes you a little nervous when your kids climb trees, then take them over to the Whale Tale exhibit for a TreeCircus Climb. Sponsored by the US Forest Service, kids can learn how to climb trees like the professionals – safely. This fun and free exhibit puts kids (and kids at heart) in the climbing ropes in a cool, air-conditioned environment.
- INDULGE YOUR TASTE BUDS. Believe it or not, you can feed the kids at the fair without breaking the bank. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 11am and 4pm, hungry fair-goers can fill their tummies with smaller versions of their favorite foods for only $2. Which means you can eat more than one of your favorites. Score. Check out the menu here.
- SEE A VIDEO SHOW ON THE CAL EXPO WATER TOWER. Each night at 8:45 pm, turn your heads to the famous Cal Expo water tower to see a fun video show project.
- VISIT THE TIME CAPSULE EXHIBIT. The California State Fair at Cal Expo is celebrating its 50th birthday. Artifacts from fairs past are going into a s special time capsule, to be opened in 2067. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids visited again 50 years from now when it’s opened again?
- GET YOUR CRAFT ON AT THE CA FOREST CENTER. Take some down time in the serene California Forest Center while learning about the state’s trees and sustainable forests. Relax, learn, craft, see animals and watch chainsaw demonstrations.
- STICK AROUND FOR WEEKEND FIREWORKS. What better way to end a fun-filled day out at the California State Fair than to celebrate with a fireworks show? At closing time – 10 pm on each Friday and Saturday night, look towards the Miller Lite Grandstand to see a spectacular array of fireworks presented by Dish.
What: California State Fair
When: July 14-23, 2017
Where: Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA
Tickets: Starting at $8 per person, with special promotional days for children, first responders, military and senior citizens. Check here for more info.