Pet a potbelly pig and relive some of your favorite childhood memories on the tilt-a-whirl at these county fairs

If the summer just doesn’t seem complete without a trip to the county fair, then mark your calendars as we’ve got eight for you to choose from. Enjoy classic fair food like popcorn and funnel cakes, get on a carnival ride or two, see a ton of animals, and try to win that giant stuffed animal at one of the game booths. The county fair only comes around once a year so make sure you get in on the family fun!

San Mateo County Fair

It’s a short drive down the peninsula for a day to ride the popular Ferris wheel at the San Mateo County Fair. There are also lots of animals, many of them in the petting area, as well as camel rides and classic fair food like hot dogs on a stick and soft serve cones. Don’t miss the chance to say “That’ll do, pig” after a popular piglet race. Check out special days with even more fun like Family Pride Day, Dia de Feria, and Pacific Islanders Day. 

Dates: June 3-11

San Mateo Event Center
1346 Saratoga Dr.
San Mateo, CA 

Alameda County Fair

One of the longest-running fairs in the Bay Area, the Alameda County Fair has so many things to do that you might need to come back again (there's a season pass for that). Live horse racing, movies on the lawn, farm animals, drone shows, and concerts are just a few of the entertainment options at the fair. Kids 5 and under are free every day, with special days like Father's Day and the 4th of July weekend. 

Dates: Wed.-Sun., June 16-July 9, plus July 3 & 4.

Alameda County Fairgrounds
4501 Pleasanton Ave.
Pleasanton, CA

Solano County Fair

From food competitions to a carnival—there’s a ton to keep the whole family happy. Enjoy musical acts as well as roving entertainers and good old-fashioned people-watching, with special days like AG Family Day and LGBTQ Pride Day. While you’re there, know that the fairgrounds just happen to be right next to Six Flags, so if the kids haven’t gotten it all out of their system yet, there’s an entire adventure park to exhaust them.

Dates: June 15-18

Solano County Fair Grounds
900 Fairgrounds Dr.
Vallejo, CA

Marin County Fair

This award-winning North Bay fave has themed this year's fair, "Electrifying", since it hasn't been fully open since 2019. Attendees can enjoy the solar-powered carousel and musical stage, carnival rides, nightly concerts, and a petting zoo. Feeling competitive? Enter the many family-friendly competitive exhibits including a Baby Derby and culinary and art contests. 

Dates: June 30-July 4

Marin County Fair & Exposition
10 Ave. of the Flags
San Rafael, CA

Sonoma County Fair

Will Bucquoy

The 2023 theme for the Sonoma County Fair is "Jurassic Jubilee", so be sure to mark your calendars if you have a dinosaur fan. Aside from this year's featured exhibit showcasing life-size animatronic dinosaurs, there are endless contests, live music, animal races, and much more. Vehicle fanatics will love the destruction derby and monster truck show. True to form, Sonoma offers a wide array of creative fair food: barbecue sliders, ceviche tostadas, cinnamon rolls, kabobs, curry, and more. Weary parents take a load off: inside the shady Kids Area is a rest station that offers a quiet place to nurse and change your little ones.

Tip: Kids 12 and under are free on Thursdays. Check the website for discount days.

Dates: Aug. 3-13

Sonoma County Fairgrounds
1350 Bennett Valley Road
Santa Rosa, CA

Santa Clara County Fair

Bringing it back for 10 days, the Santa Clara County Fair has a ton in store for families this year. Carnival rides, live music, adorable animals, exhibits, contests, and delicious fair food abound. This fair has an abundance of kiddie rides and a relatively small footprint compared to some of the others, so it’s definitely easier to navigate with the smallest in your crowd. 

Tip: You can take VTA light rail or bus right to the fair; short walk from Caltrain.

Dates: July 26- Aug. 6, closed on July 31 & August 1

Santa Clara County Fairgrounds
344 Tully Rd.
San Jose, CA

Monterey County Fair

Monterey County Fair

Shake your tail feathers for Buckaroos and Howdy Dos at the Monterey County Fair! Enjoy amusement park rides, mutton busting, free concerts, 4-H presentations, and daily cooking contests. Ride the Monterey-Salinas Transit to the fair from any stop for free. Special days include free admission for kids 6-12 on September 1!

Tip: Reserve a campsite near the fair for some extra fun!

Dates: Aug. 31-Sept. 4

Monterey County Fair
2004 Fairground Road
Monterey, CA

Santa Cruz County Fair

The Santa Cruz County Fair brings in all the family fun with 105 acres of annual favorites. There will be quilts, jams and jellies, giant pumpkins, award-winning photographs and artwork, giant animals including a horse show, and a wide array of opportunities to buy the latest gadget for your home. Bring your little ones to the Kiddie Korral for a safe place to relax with green grass, shade trees, activities, toys, rocking chairs, picnic tables, and a changing area. 

Dates: Sept. 13-17

Santa Cruz County Fair
2601 East Lake Ave.
Watsonville, CA

Additional reporting by Kate Loweth, Erin Feher & Shelly Hausman

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