State Fair

California State Fair cheat sheet: How to save money, find shade and more

Sky Ride offers spectacular views of State Fair

Riders enjoy the new Sky Ride at the California State Fair. The $1.1 million attraction opened on Friday, July 8, 2016, the first day of the fair. The fair, at Cal Expo, runs through July 24, 2016.
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Riders enjoy the new Sky Ride at the California State Fair. The $1.1 million attraction opened on Friday, July 8, 2016, the first day of the fair. The fair, at Cal Expo, runs through July 24, 2016.

Elvis Burger, or lobster fries? Gravitron, or Giant Ferris Wheel? We’ll leave the important decisions to you. But before you head to the California State Fair at Cal Expo (July 8-24), there are some things you need to know – like the best places to park, how to save money and where you can relax in air conditioning until Tony! Toni! Toné! takes the stage. For this and more, we offer a simple cheat sheet.

Hours

The State Fair (1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento) is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays; and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays through Sundays.

Parking

Parking at Cal Expo costs $10 for cars and $5 for motorcycles. Parking is cash only. Lots A, B, C and D have access to the main entrance. Lot Z is for overflow, and while it’s farthest away from the fairgrounds, a shuttle is provided to the entrance. Free parking is available for bikes at the Blue Gate, Main Gate and Gate 12. Street parking can be found in nearby neighborhoods, but watch out for ticketing and towing.

Savings

Daily adult admission is $12; $10 for seniors 62 and older; $8 for youth admission; children 4 and younger are free.

The fair is also offering discount days.

Tuesdays: All rides are $2; kids 12 and under receive free admission.

Wednesdays and Thursdays (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.): So much food and so little time, but on these days $2 snack-bites from all vendors are available.

Fridays: Seniors 62 and older pay $8 for admission and ride free on the Grand Carousel and Giant Wheel.

July 14: Free admission for active or retired military and veterans (with ID).

July 21: Free admission for first responders and law enforcement (with ID).

If trying fair food isn’t a priority, save dollars by bringing your own food and drink. Ice chests and coolers are allowed but will be searched before entry. No glass, aluminum cans or outside alcohol are allowed.

Cool Down

While visiting the fair, attendees can escape the heat at these cool places:

Air-conditioned buildings:

▪ California buildings A, B, C and D

▪ Expo center

▪ The tractor supply big barn

Misted/shaded outside areas:

▪ Cool zone (near kids park)

▪ Promenade stage

▪ Forest center

CA State Fair App

This free app is great for viewing daily agendas and creating personal schedules. The only downside is the map, which is hard to read. A screen-shot of the website’s map might be more helpful.

Must-See Concerts

Nightly shows on the Golden 1 stage are free with fair admission. Guaranteed seating is available for purchase. Here are some artists you shouldn’t miss:

R&B hitmakers Tony! Toni! Toné! kicks off the fair on Friday, July 8, appearing with funk band Heatwave ($15 for reserve seating).

Ten-time Grammy award winner Chaka Khan – known for anthems such as “I’m Every Woman” – is set to perform on Monday, July 11 ($20).

Soul music icons Tower of Power perform on Wednesday, July 13 ($15), and The Pointer Sisters appear on July 20 ($20).

Country-music fans will want to check out Dwight Yoakam on July 17. But get in line early, as reserved tickets are sold out.

Sing along to “Mr. Roboto” when classic rock group Styx takes the stage on July 18 (reserved tickets are sold out).

Speaking of classic rock, Loverboy (“Working for the Weekend”) closes down the fair on July 24 ($20).

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