Alison

About Alison

I’m a junkie. Addicted to travel. Logged 15 years as Travel Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune – a labor of love. But always appreciate coming home to my favorite city: San Diego. My newest labor of love is an app – San Diego Essential Guide – a tool that lets me share with other travelers what I love most about my hometown.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego Day?

I’d meet girlfriends at South Mission for a low-tide walk along the ocean front to Pacific Beach. Before heading back, we’d hit a boardwalk restaurant for an eggs Benedict breakfast.  We’d spend the afternoon at La Jolla Shores with our boogie boards – sun and fun in 72-degree-plus waves.  I’d meet my husband for a sunset picnic on a grassy oceanfront bluff at Coast Boulevard Park. We’d end up at Humphreys Backstage Live on Shelter Island, dancing the night away.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

Can’t think of anyplace I wouldn’t want to be seen in San Diego – except maybe Lindbergh Field, if it would help me speed through security and avoid the body scanner.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguini and red wine?

Dad was a commercial fisherman, so I’m spoiled. Give me barely seared ahi, fresh crab or a fish taco.

What’s your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Fishing – it’s in my blood. But I’m happy doing anything where I can smell saltwater: paragliding from Torrey Pines, kayaking the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, riding my boogie board, picnicking on the beach, chillin’ at a Summer Pops concert.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player?

I’m downloading more apps than music these days. My iPod is full of funky Old School stuff – the best of MJ, Gap Band, Gnarls Barkley, Cameo, Hammer and lots of old Motown sounds: Temptations, Four Tops, The Miracles.
Alison

Hike the San Diego Stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail - Courtesy Jeff Turner
Pacific Crest Trail - Courtesy Jeff Turner

Are you “Wild” enough to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner

Lots of weekend hikers who’ve read Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild, – or have seen the just-out movie starring Reese Witherspoon – have been inspired to hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

San Diego is the place to do it. The 2,650-mile-long PCT runs from Mexico to Canada – and its first 133 miles meander through San Diego’s backyard.

Starting Point

The Pacific Crest Trail begins in Campo, at the U.S./Mexico border fence, about 50 miles east of downtown San Diego. From there it traverses a range of topography and climate zones – from the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (to be avoided in summer) to the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest, where trails can sometimes be snowbound in winter.

Dozens of Day-Hike Trails

There are dozens of sections of the trail accessible to day-hikers. Get great views of the desert floor and 17 surrounding peaks from the Mount Laguna section of the trail near Foster Point. Follow the trail as it wends its way along golden hillsides studded with live oak and chaparral south of Warner Springs. (You’ll see the 100-mile PCT trail marker here.) The trail crosses into Riverside County at mile 133, north of Warner Springs.

> Download Free Pacific Crest Trail Maps

Quick Need to Knows about the Pacific Crest Trail

  • The PCT is open only to hikers, equestrians and dogs on leashes. Leave your dirt bike at home.
  • Be sure to carry lots of water. And keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and poison oak.
  • Parking permits are required in some areas. Get them at San Diego area outdoor stores such as REI.

> Learn more at the Pacific Crest Trail Association

Alison

Friday Night Liberty Invites You To Explore the Historic Liberty Station

Liberty Station in Point Loma
Liberty Station in Point Loma

Liberty Station in Point Loma offers everything from sports to arts to food to just hanging out. Photo courtesy of Liberty Station

San Diego’s Liberty Station, on the site of Point Loma’s former Naval Training Center, is a thriving, continually reviving, slice of San Diego history – and one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood it is by attending Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5:00 PM on the first Friday of each month.

It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in studios that have replaced barracks and classrooms where the U.S. Navy once practiced the art of turning boys into men.

What Is Liberty Station?

Liberty Station’s roots go back to 1923, when San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated. Over the years, the base produced nearly 2 million sailors – making San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood. While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress.

More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants. Today, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens serves locally crafted brews and gourmet eats in the space that once was the NTC mess hall.

Liberty Station also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay. The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered.

Put Friday Night Liberty at Liberty Station on your calendar.

Free Audio Tour of Liberty Station

Another great way to experience the neighborhood is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619.342.8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key.

There’s plenty of free parking throughout the area.

Alison

Free Summer Concerts in San Diego – 2014

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Summer Concerts
Spreckels Organ Pavilion Summer Concerts

Enjoy live music and warm evenings during one of San Diego’s free summer concerts. Photo courtesy of the Spreckels Organ Society

Free twilight summer concerts have become summertime traditions in neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. They’re an opportunity for visitors, locals and their families to socialize, picnic, enjoy music together – and maybe even dance as the sun sets on another perfect San Diego summer day.

Here’s a sampling of what will be staged during the free summer concerts of 2014:

The Point Loma Summer Concert Series opens July 11 with the Mighty Untouchables and continues on consecutive Fridays through August 8 when Detroit Underground takes the stage. Shows run 5:30 to 8:30 PM. Pack a picnic or buy food at the venue. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and Frisbees to Point Loma Park, 1049 Catalina Blvd.

Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green are set for Sundays July 20 through August 10. Shows run from 4:00 to 6:30 PM at Kate Sessions Park (Lamont Street, just north of Beryl). Bring your own food and drink.

Mission Hills Summer Concerts in Pioneer Park series opens June 20 at Pioneer Park and continues on consecutive Fridays through August 22. Pioneer Park is at 1425 Washington Place.

Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park concert series kicks off at 6:15 PM June 17 and continues on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 28 at the park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The hour-long shows feature everything from classical music to R&B.

Enjoy organ music? The International Summer Organ Festival features top organists from around the world. Showtime is 7:30 – 9:30 PM on Mondays, June 23 through Aug. 25, at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

The Bird Park Concert Series in North Park opens June 14 with the Bill Magee Blues Band. More concerts are scheduled June 28 (folk), July 12 (indie rock), July 26 (country) and August 9 (Zydeco). All shows run 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Bird Park is at 28th and Thorn streets.

Coronado’s Promenade Summer Concert Series series is set for 6:00 PM on Sundays, through September 7, at Spreckels Park, 7th and Orange. Families (but no dogs) are welcome to picnic during the 90-minute shows.

Del Mar’s Summer Twilight Concerts are set for Powerhouse Park, overlooking the Pacific, at 1600 Coast Blvd. The series begins June 17 with Rockola, followed by Back to the Garden on July 1, the Heroes on July 22, Haute Chile on August 12 and Sully and the Blue Eyed Soul Band on September 7. Show time is 7:00 PM, with pre-show entertainment beginning at 6:00 PM.

Carlsbad’s TGIF Concerts in the Park is staged at four community parks. The 29th season opens at Stagecoach Park (3420 Camino de los Coches), with concerts on June 27, July 4. The party moves to Alga Norte Community Park (6565 Alicante Road) for concerts on July 11 and 18. Then it’s on to Poinsettia Park (6600 Hidden Valley Road) for concerts on July 25, August 1 and 8. The season closes at Calavera Hills Park (2997 Glasgow Drive) with concerts on Aug. 15 and 22. Showtime is 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Wear your dancing shoes.

El Cajon’s Dinner & a Concert series is set for 6:00 to 8:00 PM Fridays through September 26 on the Prescott Promenade near East Main Street and Rea Avenue in downtown El Cajon. The family oriented venue is smoke-, alcohol- and dog-free. No need to pack a picnic; about a dozen restaurants edge the promenade, offering on-the-spot dining or picnics to go.

Santee’s Free Summer Concerts are scheduled 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Thursdays, June 19 through August 28. (except July 3) at Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive in Santee. The Catillacs will open the series. Picnics are welcome, but know that food trucks rally nearby.

Map of San Diego’s Free Summer Concerts

> Hear more great summer concerts in San Diego

Did we miss a free summer concert series in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below.

Alison

Save and Play with These 2014 San Diego County Fair Deals

San Diego County Fair Ride
Ride for less with these 2014 San Diego County Fair Deals

Ride for less with these 2014 San Diego County Fair Deals

Adult admission to the San Diego County Fair is only $14 – but deals abound. Find out how you can have a great time and go easy on the wallet with these San Diego County Fair Deals.

San Diego County Fair Deals on Admission

Best Pass Ever

For super fans, the “Best Pass Ever” can’t be beat. It includes daily admission – all 24 days of the fair – for just $24. You’ll need a school or government-issued photo ID to use the pass.

Kids Reading Certificate

Tuesdays June 24 and July 1 are the magic day for kids 6-12 years old. They get in free. (Kids 5 and younger get in free everyday.) Youngsters 12 and younger can get in free any day through July 5, if they read 10 books and have it verified by their teacher or librarian. The certificate you’ll need to get signed can be downloaded in English or Spanish.

Shop at Albertsons and Save

Get Fair admission for just $4 on June 7 or 11, with a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons/SavOn stores. (Tickets must be purchased in advance; none will be available at the fair.)

Visit a Toyota Dealership and Save

County auto dealers are in on the action this year. Visit a Toyota dealership to get a coupon valid for two adult admissions for the price of one. Visit a Ford dealership to get a 4-tickets-for-$32 coupon.

Free Concerts

Once you’re inside, there are tons of free things to enjoy – including concerts by big name artists. Get free unreserved seats at performances by top artists including the Smokey Robinson, REO Speedwagon, Huey Lewis and the News, Taylor Hicks and Grand Funk Railroad.

Love the Rides – Ride All Day for One Price

On “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days, spend $35 for a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kid Zone rides from noon until 8:00 PM. The deal is valid June 7-8, 11-15, 18-19 and 25-26. On valid Wednesdays or Thursdays wristbands are for sale at the fair; on other valid days, they must be purchased online. (You’ll buy and print out your Pay-One-Price voucher online; there’s an additional $2.50 fee for online purchases.)

Don’t Forget About the Food

On Tuesdays, June 24 and July 1, until 5:00 PM, more than 100 food vendors offer smaller portions for $2. Or bring your own picnic; there are six designated picnic areas. (No alcohol, glass containers or metal utensils.)

Getting to the San Diego County Fair

Parking

Avoid the fair’s $10 parking fee by opting for free parking at Horsepark, about 2 miles east of the fairgrounds, at 14550 El Camino Real; a free shuttle will get you to the front gate. On weekends and July 4 there’s additional free parking (with shuttle service) at Torrey Pines High and Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus.

Public Transportation

Taking public transportation to the fair is a super deal. For $15, travel roundtrip on the Coaster and get free fair admission. The “Fair Tripper” is valid for any age, but those 62 and older save more by buying fair admission and Coaster tickets separately. Kids 5 and younger ride the Coaster free and get free fair admission.

Alison

A San Diego Holiday Tradition: Balboa Park December Nights

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

Balboa Park December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland, and this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever. San Diego’s largest free festival, which is designed to be the city’s holiday gift to the community, is expected to draw at least 300,000 in this its 35th year.

The two-day celebration of entertainment, food and fun, takes place Friday, Dec. 6, from 3–11 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7, from noon–11 p.m. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound, and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

The Lily Pond and Botanical Building decked out for December Nights. (Photo by Manny Cencieros)

In the spirit of the season, participating park museums open their doors to the public free of charge from 5–9 p.m. both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing handbell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center, and don’t miss the San Diego Floral Association’s exhibit at the House of Hospitality of 30 beautifully decorated holiday trees.

balboa park organ pavilion san diego december nights holiday event

Festive performances take place on the beautiful stage of the Organ Pavilion.

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park.  The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children’s choir performances. The San Diego Civic Dance Company will present Rockettes-style routines, while a puppet version of “The Christmas Carol” will be presented at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. African drumming and dance performances and Reggae music performances are planned at the WorldBeat Center. Dozens of singers, dancers and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Dr. Seuss' how the Grinch Stole Christmas Old Globe Theater San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Kids can get their photo taken with the Grinch at the Old Globe.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with Santa as he strolls the park, and they can pose for a photo in the Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch who stole Christmas. Kids of all ages can join with Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children’s holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: think empanadas, egg rolls, shepherd’s pie, pasties, pancit, samosas, plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, and even blueberry soup. Many museums offer tasty treats as well. You’ll find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden and hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights, from melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies.  The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

House of China Food International Cottages San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Ethnic food specialties are part of the delicious fun at December Nights.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping.  Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.  For $300 or less, buy a piece of original art right off the walls at the San Diego Art Institute. And don’t forget to buy a sprig of locally sourced mistletoe from San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers.

With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Your best bet is to take public transportation or park for $5 at Petco Park or for free at City College. Free shuttles will ferry celebrants to and from 6th & Laurel from 3 p.m.–midnight on Friday and from 11:30 a.m.–midnight on Saturday.

Finally, be sure to bundle up!  While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights.

What’s your favorite part of December Nights in Balboa Park? Let us know in the comments.

 

Alison

San Diego Offers Free Use of Beach Wheelchairs in Mission Beach

Beach Wheelchairs
Beach Wheelchairs

Explore San Diego’s waterfront with free beach wheelchairs rentals

The City of San Diego’s Park & Recreation Department provides a number of services for the disabled – including free use of motorized beach wheelchairs that allow those with mobility disabilities to propel independently along the sand at Mission Beach. There’s even a non-motorized chair that allows users to roll right in to the ocean.

Beach wheelchairs can be reserved for one hour at a time. (Identification is required and will be held as security.) Maximum weight capacity on the motorized chair is 250 pounds; it’s 500 pounds on the water-going chair.  (Only one rider at a time is permitted on either vehicle.)

Find the chairs just outside the lifeguard station at Ventura and Ocean Front Walk, behind Belmont Park.

Beach Wheelchair Rental Hours

May-October:

  • Weekdays: 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM (closed Tuesdays)
  • Weekends: 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM

November-December

  • Friday-Sunday: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM

January-February

  • No beach wheelchairs available

March-April

  • Friday-Sunday: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM

Reservations are highly recommended; phone 619.980.1876.

> Find more San Diego beaches offering free beach wheelchairs

> Visit Accessible San Diego for great ideas during your next visit

Alison

Cabrillo National Monument Centennial – It’s Time to Celebrate

The annual Cabrillo Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year and next month the monument itself celebrates its 100th birthday with a weekend long Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration.

Cabrillo Festival

Cabrillo Festival

Learn about the history and cultures of San Diego at the Cabrillo Festival

The Cabrillo Festival commemorates the day in 1542 when Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the shore of what is now known as San Diego Bay. (He had christened it San Miguel.) Sailing under the flag of Spain, he was the first European to land on the west coast of what is now the United States. A highlight of the festival is the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing. “Cabrillo,” his soldiers and a priest sail into the bay on the San Salvador (The Californian from the Maritime Museum of San Diego) and once again claim the land for Spain.

Cabrillo Festival activities begin with a commemorative ceremony at 4:00 PM on September 28 at the monument. That evening there’s a dinner/dance at the SES Portuguese Hall. (Tickets cost $50; phone 619.426.0769.)

The big day is Sunday at Ballast Point – one of the few times the Navy’s nuclear sub base at the end of Rosecrans on Point Loma is open to the public. Festivities will include music, dancing and activities for children. There will be demonstrations of Kumeyaay basket making and knot tying. Visitors can view a 16th Century Spanish soldiers living history encampment. Vendors will native-American foods as well as foods from Mexico, Spain and Portugal. Cabrillo’s landing is set for around 1:00 PM.

Reminder: You are entering an active military base. Identification and car insurance is required. All individuals are subject to search. All vehicles are expected to adhere to base speed limit of 25 MPH. No talking on cell phones while driving.

Where: Naval Base Point Loma – End of Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106
When: September 29, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
> Find out more about the Cabrillo Festival

Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Cabrillo National Monument Centennial

Celebrate 100 years of beautiful views, San Diego history and more during the Cabrillo National Monument Centennial

Next month’s Cabrillo Centennial celebration will include living history tours to the top of the lighthouse (from 10:00 AM until 3:30 PM on Saturday), bayside trail hikes, food vendors and entertainment. On Sunday, an exhibitor fair is planned at the Visitors Center Complex and actors portraying World War II soldiers will offer tours of newly restored military bunkers. The fun concludes on Monday, with an 11:00 AM centennial commemoration ceremony.

Where: Cabrillo National Monument – 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
When: October 12-14, 2013
Cost: Admission to Cabrillo National Monument costs $5 per car
> Find out more about the Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Alison

San Diego Blues Festival Jamming this Weekend to Support a Good Cause

Charlie Musselwhite at the San Diego Blues Festival
Charlie Musselwhite at the San Diego Blues Festival

Listen to Charlie Musselwhite at the San Diego Blues Festival

One of San Diego’s premier music events is just around the corner. The 2013 San Diego Blues Festival is set for September 7, 2013, at Embarcadero Marina Park North.

This year’s headliners include three members of the Blues Hall of Fame and a Grammy Award winner.

Hall of Famers include harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite and Chicago musicians Billy Boy Arnold and Jody Williams, who helped Bo Diddley and others transform blues into rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s. They will be joined by Grammy winner Dave Alvin, who has assembled a special blues band just for this year’s festival.

Musselwhite is one of the best known blues harmonica players today and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. He recently released an album with guitarist Ben Harper.

Others set to take the stage include Billy Watson and his Submarine Trio, The Fremonts, Nikki Hill, Eden Brent, The Tighten Ups, the Bill Magee Blues Band and the indefatigable Lucky Peterson, whose work as a musician, arranger and composer has been featured on nearly 600 albums.

The festival features continuous music on two stages – and it’s one of the best music values anywhere: General admission costs just $15, plus two cans of food.

The fest benefits the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank with all proceeds going to the Food Bank. (In its first two years, the festival raised more than $100,000 and collected nearly eight tons of food for the food bank.)

VIP tickets cost $100 and include lunch and admission to exclusive, shaded viewing areas by each stage. A $500 Star Benefactor pass includes reserved seating, lunch, drinks, free parking, a Blues Fest t-shirt, a signed festival poster and a framed photograph with one of the musicians.

Children are welcome at the event; those 12 and younger are admitted free with a parent.

Bring your own low-back beach chair, sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen and a windbreaker for late afternoon and early evening. Each festival-goer is allowed one factory sealed bottle of water. No other drinks, food or coolers are allowed.

There are numerous public parking lots near the venue, but your best bet is to take public transportation. The San Diego Trolley stops two blocks from festival grounds.

San Diego Blues Festival Information

Where: Embarcadero Marina Park North – 400 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: September 7, 2013
Time: Entry to the festival at 10:30 AM
Cost: $15-$500
> Find out more about the San Diego Blues Festival

Alison

Bring the Kids to Camp Del Mar for a Fun Day at the Races

Camp Del Mar at the Del Mar Racetrack

Camp Del Mar at the Del Mar Racetrack

Heading off for a day at the Del Mar racetrack? Don’t forget the kids!

The track’s best bet might just be its child care program: Camp Del Mar is a just-for-fun day camp designed to keep 5-to-12-year-old youngsters safe and entertained while their parents enjoy a day at the races.

The program is based in the track’s Mission Tower Building. Kids enjoy arts and crafts, movies and video games, tournaments and excursions. Thursday is miniature golf day. On Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends children compete in hippity hop races on the racetrack.

Children are supervised by trained counselors – one for every 12 kids. Staff includes teachers and recreation professionals.

The camp program will operate every day of the Del Mar racing season, from July 17 through September 2, (closed Mondays except Labor Day, Tuesdays and September 4). Camp will open at 11:30 AM on opening day, at 10:30 AM on Pacific Classic Day, at noon on other Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day. It’ll open at 2:00 PM on Fridays. Camp closes 30 minutes after the last race.

Tuition includes all activities, lunch, snacks and a way-cool t-shirt. No reservations are required. Parents must remain at the track while their youngsters are at camp.

Camp Del Mar Info

Where: Mission Tower Building at the Del Mar Racetrack
When: Through September 2 (closed Mondays, Tuesdays and September 4)
Time: 11:30 AM to 30 minutes after the last race (check website for specific dates)
Cost:
$24 per child
Website: www.CampDelMar.com

Alison

San Diego County Fair Deals and Discounts – 2013

[youtube http://youtu.be/gPBLmT18O3A]

It’s “Game On” at the San Diego County Fair! This year, the Fair will spotlight classic and nostalgic games and show how these have evolved over the years; from board games and pinball, to television, videos and computers, technology has enhanced the gaming culture beyond our dreams.

Are you ready to hit start? Play at the Fair and save plenty of gold coins (a.k.a cash) with these deals and discounts:

Admission to the Fair

Adult admission to the San Diego County Fair costs $14 – but deals abound:

  • For super fans, the “Best Pass Ever” can’t be beat. It includes daily admission – all 24 days of the fair – for just $24. You’ll need a school or government-issued photo ID to use the pass.
  • Tuesdays are the magic day for kids 6-12 years old. They get in free. (Kids 5 and younger get in free everyday.) Youngsters 12 and younger can get in free any day if they read 10 books and have it verified by their teacher or librarian. The certificate you’ll need to get signed can be downloaded in English or Spanish.
  • Adults can get $4 admission on Tuesday, June 11 or June 18. You’ll need a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons/SavOn stores. (Tickets must be purchased in advance; none will be available at the fair.)
  • Been laid off in the past year? Present an unemployment check stub and a photo ID at the will-call window on June 18 or 25 to get free admission for yourself and a guest.
  • County auto dealers are in on the action this year, starting June 1. Visit a Toyota dealership to get a coupon valid for two adult admissions for the price of one. Visit a Ford dealership to get a 4-tickets-for-$32 coupon.

Once Inside the Fair

Concerts

Once you’re inside, there are tons of free things to enjoy – including concerts by big name artists. Headliners offering free unreserved seats this year include the Beach Boys,  REO Speedwagon, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Switchfoot, Chubby Checker, Colbie Caillat and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón.

Rides

Love the rides? On “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days, spend $35 for a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kiddieland rides from noon until 8:00 PM.  The deal is valid June 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 26 and 27. On valid Wednesdays or Thursdays, wristbands are for sale at the fair; on other valid days, they must be purchased online (You’ll buy and print out your Pay-One-Price voucher online; there’s an additional $2.50 fee for online purchases.)

Food

Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe - San Diego County Fair

This year, try the new Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe at the San Diego County Fair!

Food? On Tuesdays, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, more than 100 food vendors offer smaller portions for $2. Or bring your own picnic; there are six designated picnic areas. (No alcohol, glass containers or metal utensils are allowed on the fairgrounds.)

Getting to the San Diego County Fair

Parking

Avoid the fair’s $10 parking fee by opting for free parking at Horsepark, about 2 miles east of the fairgrounds, at 14550 El Camino Real; a free shuttle will get you to the front gate. On weekends and July 4 there’s additional free parking (with shuttle service) at Torrey Pines High and Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus.

Public Transportation

Taking public transportation to the fair is a super deal. For $15, travel roundtrip on the Coaster and get free fair admission. The “Fair Tripper” is valid for any age, but those 62 and older save more by buying fair admission and Coaster tickets separately. Kids 5 and younger ride the Coaster free and get free fair admission.

> Find More Exciting Things to Do this Summer in San Diego

Know of any other great San Diego County Fair deals or savings? Let us and others know in the comments below. Even if you don’t know of any, tell us what deep-fried treat you are most looking forward to trying.