California State Fair Cheat Sheet: How to Save Money, Find Shade, and More


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 park. relax in the air conditioning until Tony! Tony! Your! takes the stage. For this and more, we offer a simple cheat sheet.


The State Fair (1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento) is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Sunday.

Car park

Parking at Cal Expo is $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 although it is furthest from the fairgrounds, a shuttle is provided at the entrance. Free parking is available for bicycles at the Blue Gate, Main Gate, and Gate 12. There is street parking in nearby neighborhoods, but watch out for ticketing and towing.


Daily adult admission is $12; $10 for people aged 62 and over; $8 for youth admission; children 4 and under are free.

The fair also offers discount days.

Tuesdays: All rides are $2; children 12 and under enjoy free admission.

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

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

July 14: Free entry for active or retired soldiers and veterans (upon presentation of proof).

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

If trying fair trade food isn’t a priority, save money by bringing your own food and drink. Coolers and coolers are permitted but will be searched before entry. No glasses, aluminum cans or outside alcohol are allowed.


While visiting the fair, visitors can escape the heat in these cool places:

Air-conditioned buildings:

California Buildings A, B, C, and D

exhibition center

The tractor supplies the large barn

Fogged/Shaded Outdoor Spaces:

Cool zone (near the children’s park)

promenade scene

Forestry Center

California 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 screenshot of the site map could be more useful.

Unmissable concerts

Nightly shows on the Golden 1 Stage are free with fair entry. Guaranteed seats are available for purchase. Here are some artists not to miss:

Tony! Tony! Your! kicks off the fair on Friday, July 8, with funk band Heatwave ($15 for reserved seating).

Ten-time Grammy award-winning Chaka Khan, known for her anthems such as “I am every woman” – is due to perform on Monday, July 11 ($20).

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

Country music fans will want to catch Dwight Yoakam on July 17. But line up early, as reserved tickets are sold out.

Sing with “Mr. Robotowhen classic rock band Styx take the stage on July 18 (reserved tickets are sold out).

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

This story was originally published July 7, 2016 06:00.

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