California State Fair

The California State Fair has been a Golden State tradition for more than 150 years. Every July, native Californians and visitors from all over gather in the state capital of Sacramento to have some fun, eat some great food, and experience the tradition. Officially called the California Exposition and State Fair, the annual event is the highlight of the summer for many people. The California State Fair 2011 is planned for the last two weeks in July at the fairgrounds called the Cal Expo.

California State Fair Facts

The schedule of events is packed with live music, shopping, and many other things to do. The fair is also a showcase of California's agricultural riches as it has been from the beginning. Nearly every county in California has been represented by in the contents representing cuisine, technology, and agriculture, along with the fine arts. Even if you haven't entered the contests, you can still check out what's happening at one of the premier events and holidays in the Golden State.

The California Exposition and State Fair 2011 will feature more fair fun, including midway games and rides. You'll also find something you might not expect—a full waterpark. Raging Waters, the former Waterworld, has been renovated with 25 exciting rides and slides. The largest waterpark in the Golden State has a much longer season than the fair, and it's open from May through September.

Tickets to the California State Fair

General admission tickets are discounted for seniors 62 and older as well as for kids age 5 to 12. Anyone younger can get in the fair for free. Combination tickets also are available. The Poppy Pack is a great way to get more for your money; this package includes four admission passes, parking, and four ride tickets. Individual ride passes can be purchased, too, as can unlimited wristbands. Season passes, which include full access to Raging Waters, are another option for the California State Fair 2011.

Directions to the California State Fair

The fairgrounds are located in the heart of Sacramento, right off the Capitol City Freeway (Business Route 80). From the Bay Area and Sacramento, take Highway 80 to the east to the Capitol City Freeway's Exposition Boulevard exit. From the Tahoe area, the directions are the same to get to the California State Fair, except you take Highway 80 west, one of the scenic drives available in this region.

Public transportation also heads right to the fairgrounds, preventing hassles and parking fees. Sacramento Regional Transit District buses stop right at the curb every fifteen minutes. Light rail stations can take you right to the bus stops and right across the street from the entrance of the Cal Expo.

Lodging near the California State Fair

The state capital is packed with places to stay and California hotels, close to the fairgrounds and highways.

The Best Western Expo Inn and Suites, just minutes away at 1413 Howe Avenue, offers special rates and packages during the California Exposition and State Fair season. The 126 renovated guestrooms feature one king-size bed or two cozy queen-size beds. Guests also have access to a pool and fitness center, as well as free hot breakfast in the morning.

The Cal Expo Marriott-Towne Place Suites enjoys a location just a half mile away from the gate. The expansive rooms, ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartment layouts. All of the suites have kitchens, and breakfast is included in all of the packages. A shuttle is available to take guests right to the California State Fair.

Image: Tom Spaulding (flickr)

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