Summer is here and that means it’s fair season! Any day at a county fair usually consists of going on a few rides, indulging in the fried foods, listening to some music, and perhaps checking out some livestock or salivating over baked goods. A day at the Orange County (OC) Fair is no exception, but offers many more unique activities.
About the OC Fair
The Orange County Fair is held on the OC Fairgrounds, in Costa Mesa. The fairgrounds host more than 200 events each year including Imaginology – a children’s event focussing on STEAM, a gem show, the OC Night Market, and concerts in the Pacific Amphitheatre.
The fair is held over 23 days starting in mid-July. It attracts over 1-million visitors each year. Last year boasted over 1.3 million and is the third most attended fair in California – just behind San Diego and Los Angeles counties. Admission to the OC Fair is $14 for adults, $7 for children, 5 and under are free. Parking is $10.
So what makes the OC Fair so special?
The Selfie Museum
New at the OC Fair this year is The Selfie Museum. It is more of an experience than a museum, but don’t let the name distract you from what you’ll see inside. It is an extra $5, but well worth it!
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a huge fan of selfies. It’s not that I’m incapable of taking a decent selfie, but I’d rather not have my mug covering the surrounding scenery. However, the Selfie Museum brought out the selfie in me!
How did it do that? There are about a dozen different scenes that you can immerse yourself in with props – think of a photo booth at a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah but different backgrounds! The props were matched with the backgrounds – burlap sacks for the large slide, or oversized strips of bacon in a breakfast scene, etc. There are fair workers that staff each scene to get the perfect snap of you and your friends in each scene.
I had a ton more fun than I thought that when I first heard about it. You will too, I promise!
Did you know that the OC Fair hosts one of the largest wine competitions in California? I certainly didn’t. The Orange County Wine Society – a nonprofit ran by volunteers – makes it all possible. There are a bunch of white and red wines that you can try as a flight or a full pour, including the wines that were entered into the competition.
I love going wine tasting, but had no idea there was a wine competition in my own backyard. The wine garden is covered to shade you from the sun, but you are also able to enjoy the wine while walking around the fair.
Largest Portable Observation Wheel
In case the weather is hot when you visit the OC Fair (which is can get), head through the midway to the Observation Wheel. You’ll be able to sit comfortable in an air conditioned pod that takes you high above the fairgrounds.
Pro Tip: take a ride at sunset to get a view that can’t be beat!
The pig races are one of the most fun things you can do at the OC Fair. If you can get past the puns for the pigs’ names (like Tupork and the Notorious P.I.G.), you’ll find yourself laughing and cheering on your favorite pig.
The pig races start every hour at 2 PM and are about 30 minutes each show. Not only is it a fun time, it is also free and offers a lot of shade!
To wrap up your day at the OC Fair, visit the Petting Zoo. You’ll see several deer, goats, sheep, and even a llama and an alpaca. Pay a few bucks so you can feed the animals. I was able to get an awesome picture with an alpaca because it ate the food I had.
The food comes in an ice cream cone which the animals love to eat. Some of the animals are greedy so watch out. You may find a sneaky animal eating some of the food. I think it was the llama that
stole ate the entire cone when I wasn’t careful.
The reason I say to end your day here is because the deer tend to try to eat clothing. Apparently it’s their way of saying hi. Who knew?! Two deer nearly got pieces of my shirt I was wearing. You wouldn’t want to walk around for the rest of the day wearing a torn shirt or worse!
Where To Stay When Visiting the OC Fair
There are several options to use points at hotels near the fairgrounds.
The following hotels are close to a free shuttle to the fair:
Westin South Coast Plaza– about $175 per night or 35,000 Marriott points
Avenue of the Arts, a Tribute Portfolio hotel – about $250 per night or 25,000 Marriott points
Both of those hotels are SPG/Marriott hotels – points listed are post-August 1 (merger date) rates.
The following hotels are slightly further away, but would be a cheap Uber ride to the fair:
Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport – about $250 per night or 12,000 World of Hyatt points
Hilton Irvine – about $300 per night or 40,000 Hilton Honors points.
View the rates at other Costa Mesa hotels here
My Day at the OC Fair
The OC Fair has tons to offer every visitor! I know several people that are almost obsessed with going every year; I never fully understood why but I can see the attraction of going. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try out any of the food at the fair. Hopefully I make it back this year, but if not then I will definitely go next year.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Orange County Fair, but all views and opinions are my own.