Every summer, Sacramento's Cal Expo fairgrounds come alive as the California State Fair rolls into town. Hosting nearly one million visitors annually, this "city within a city" has been delighting visitors for 160 years with exhibits, competitions, fireworks, free concerts, and the Magnificent Midway.
The fair offers plenty of exhibits and attractions with true country flair, from livestock contests to rodeo competitions. Children can get a hands-on barnyard experience at the California Ranchland exhibit, which includes a petting farm, pedal tractor pull competitions, pony painting, a children's dairy center, and roping arena where your little ones can try out their cowpoke skills.
Kids of all ages flock to the fair’s Magnificent Midway, which boasts 68 carnival rides ranging from pulse-pounding thrillers to old-fashioned, kiddie classics. If the idea of a twirling carnival ride makes you a little green, you can still enjoy the Midway. Grab some traditional fair food (funnel cake, anyone?) and try your skills at any one of the game booths offered.
The California State Fair also presents free evening concerts and comedy shows, with retro favorites and up-and-coming stars alike gracing the main stage. General admission to concerts is included in admission, though special reserved "Gold Circle" tickets to these shows are available for $3 to $20, depending on the event. A concert lineup can be found here. Purchase advance discount tikcets here.
With additional entertainment including live thoroughbred horse racing, Motorcross demonstrations, Demolition Derby, wine and cheese tastings, nightly fireworks, and more, there's bound to be something for everyone.
Cal Expo Center
Stay at the Sacramento Hostel, a restored Victorian mansion in downtown Sacramento.