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Summertime Fairs: Pigs, pies, prizes, oh my!

Everybody loves a county fair, unless they hate fun! County fairs are classic American pastimes, not to mention absolute staples of summer, like ice cream and sunburns. Care to partake in this summertime merriment while visiting one of our Northern California hostels? Well then throw on some cowboy boots and buckle your wonky, rollercoaster seatbelt -- here's our round up of the biggest and best state and county fairs.

California State Fair
The California State Fair from July 12-28 isn't your average county fair. Equipped with three operational monorails, an exotic lagoon, and it's very own police force to manage all the mayhem, this fair attracts guests from all over the world to showcase the Golden State. General admission is $12, or grab an advance discount ticket hereHostel home base: The Sacramento Hostel, less than 5 miles from the Cal Expo Fairgrounds.

San Mateo County Fair
Now in its 79th year, the San Mateo County Fair invites you to experience  rides, exhibits, concerts, food, and more from June 8-16. Enjoy spectacular views on the Ferris wheel, and try not to scream yourself hoarse as you get catapulted upside-down on the Ring of Fire. This year's theme, "Where Tradition Meets Innovation," will dictate the annual contests and competitions that range from horticulture to technology, livestock to literature. General admission is $10, or grab a presale ticket before June 7 for $8. Hostel home base: The Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, 20 miles from the fairground, or the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, a scenic 34-mile drive up the coast. 

Marin County Fair
The Marin County Fair from July 3-7 comes loaded with nightly fireworks, a Chinese circus, over 12,000 exhibits, a petting zoo, an international film festival, dance competitions, and all-you-can-stomach carnival rides. A $16 ticket gets you access to all this as well as performances by The Kingston Trio, "Weird Al" Yankovic, The Wailers, Zendaya, and more. Hostel home base: The Marin Headlands Hostel, 17 miles from the fair.

Sonoma-Marin Fair
Check out the Sonoma-Marin Fair from June 22-26 and get ready for pig races, a "World's Ugliest Dog" contest, a destruction derby, and free ice cream every afternoon from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $15, including carnival rides and live performances. Hostel home base: Either the Point Reyes Hostel, 28 miles from the fairgrounds in Petaluma, or the Marin Headlands Hostel, 35 miles away.

Alameda County Fair 
Enjoy 15 days of fireworks, horse races, puppet shows, kids driving tractors, and more at the Alameda County Fair. Catch them from June 19- July 7, and for $8 admission you can get your fill of authentic local food, live musical acts, extreme sports, and, of course, spectacular rides! This year's fair features the brand new A.R.M Vertigo Tower where riders swing 100-feet in the air around a center track, like a giant swing. It's sure to get your heart pumping. Hostel home base: One of our three San Francisco hostels, 40 miles from the Pleasanton fairgrounds. To get there on public transit from San Francisco take BART to Dublin/Pleasanton, grab the #10 Transit Unlimited bus just outside the station, and hop off when you get to the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

Monterey County Fair
Visit the Monterey County Fair from August 28 - September 2 and enjoy 30+ carnival rides and ongoing entertainment spread across 22 acres of oak forest. An $8 advance ticket gets you access to a hypnotist, storytelling, a quiz game show, and nightly concerts. Hostel home base: The Monterey Hostel, just 3.4 miles from Monterey County Fairgrounds.

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Stay at one of our Northern California hostels and experience a classic American summertime fair.