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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Fair returns June 8 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in all its glory — the first full edition since the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to settle for scaled-down events in recent years.

A dispute over the fairgrounds’ rides and midway operator caused a brief scare, but that’s been settled and we’re set for a remarkably “normal” feeling summer of fun.

Here’s what you need to know as you and your family get ready for Opening Day:

San Diego County Fair schedule, tickets, parking

Admission and parking are specific to the date you visit the fair, so you need to buy them ahead of time online. Buy fair tickets and parking passes — and check daily capacity limits — on the fair’s website.

Fair dates and hours

The 2022 San Diego County Fair runs from June 8 through July 4, open to the public every Wednesday through Sunday for the duration. The only exception is July 4, which falls on a Monday this year. The fairgrounds will remain open for a final chance to visit on Independence Day.

Gates open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on “school nights” — Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, including Opening Day. Gates don’t close until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, giving you an extra hour of fun.

Fair admission prices

Check out this handy chart from the fair’s website. Note that mid-week prices are a little bit cheaper this year, youth tickets are free on Fridays, and kids 5-and-under always get in free.

Monday, July 4
Adult (age 13–61)$15$20$20
Senior (age 62+)$12$17$17
Youth (age 6–12)$12Free!$17
Children 5 and youngerFree!Free!Free!

Parking at San Diego County Fair

There are three options for parking at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.):

  • Preferred parking for $30: this is closest to the gates for double the cost — a premium option.
  • General parking for $15: these passes get you into one of three lots — the Main Parking Lot, Solana Gate entrance or the Horsepark facility about two miles from the fairgrounds.
    • The parking lots are first-come, first-served.
    • There is free shuttle/tram service for the spots that leave you further from the fair entrance.
  • Free parking off-site: this is in the lot at Torrey Pines High School about 10 minutes down Interstate 5.
    • Free shuttles run from this lot to the main site, too.

What to do at the fair

A huge part of the fair experience is strolling around with family or friends and simply taking in the sights and smells. And there’s something for everyone with fair food, from classics like kettle corn and Chicken Charlie’s to innovative multicultural fare.

Here are a few other ideas that could make your list:

  • Buy a FunPass for rides and games — you can enjoy a packed day at the fair without these carnival mainstays, but if you do think you’ll be playing games and seeking thrills, this is probably a good deal for you. Ticket packages for $20, $50 and $100 give you 50% or 25% more tickets for the cost.
  • Catch a concert — here’s the stacked lineup for the San Diego County Fair’s Toyota Summer Concert Series.
  • Attend a drinks festival — there are special wine, beer and cocktail events that show off the best of the local scene.

Review the San Diego County Fair’s full event calendar for a complete day-by-day breakdown.