This weekend will mark our seventh year of taking our kid (now 2 kids) to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton.
I posted some tips here last year that still ring true, so here they are again (updated slightly), along with some new ones from readers. Feel free to add yours!
1. Always get the free program at the entrance. Attractions and events vary daily and from year to year. New this year: A farm tour to introduce kids to rural life; kid and adult hot dog-related contests; an India-themed festival on final day.
2. Make sure to venture beyond the carnival rides. There are so many free fun things to do that will stretch your budget further. And if you can’t avoid the rides, buy a wristband. ($25) It will pay for itself quickly.
3. Visit all the furry critters. But bring the hand sanitizer. It’s usually provided but having your own is your best bet.
3. Seek out indoor exhibits when it’s hot. Especially the garden displays. Ahhhh. Cool gurgling water.
4. Bring your own food! Yes, you are allowed to do this, and it gives the belly a nice break from those funnel cakes. Our playgroup used to do a picnic in the central shaded grassy area by the barbecue station, and once someone brought in a whole cake for us to share. (So much for belly breaks). There are several tasty takeout and dine-in restaurants located nearby at the corner of Bernal and Valley avenues. (Or, even better, plan a sidetrip to our quaint/historic downtown Pleasanton — just a short drive away and full of shops and eateries.)
5. Avoid the high parking fees. If you’re from out of town, take BART to the Dublin-Pleasanton station and then the fair shuttle ($2 for those 6 and older; $1 seniors/disabled) from the station and from the Livermore Transit Center.
If you live in town, there are a few public sites nearby that charge less or some spots in various neighborhoods. Better yet, carpool. Or walk!
Now for what our readers had to add:
2. Cathy says:
A good tip (also about food) is to bring healthy snacks like string cheese, fruit, water, etc in a soft-sided shoulder cooler and allow ONE fun treat to share at the fair. You’ll get the fair experience without breaking the bank or loosening your belt.
3. Eric says:
- Bring insulated water bottles filled with ice and refill them at the water fountains.
- Plan to go on a day that has a favorite musical act and then line up an hour early. Where else can you get front row seats for the admission price to the fair!
- Go see the hillarious pig races and get there early to get a shady seat.
- Listen to one of the kitchen demos in the commercial tent. Even if you don’t buy anything, these guys are hilarious, and it’s a good place to rest from the heat.
- Get up close to the fence during the horse races and watch the horses whiz past.
- Wear sunblock & good shades
4. Laura Says:
When we first arrive, my husband and I head straight to the horse races and each place a bet–oftentimes one of us wins, and then we have $$ to spend for the rest of the day (no kidding!).
5. Jennifer says:
Don’t forget your camera. It seems simple, but how many of us have seen a perfect picture opportunity and we reach for our camera to only realize we left it at home. Pictures of our kids petting the animals or those silly big races are memories that we won’t want to forget. So make sure to bring your camera. Don’t forget to make sure its charged and has film or extra space on your SD card.