The LA County Fair offers way more than carnival rides and fried food on a stick—though there’s plenty of that too. As one of the largest county fairs in North America, it’s chockfull of family fun. From mini horses to giant train cars, read on for our guide to everything to see and do with kids at this year’s extravaganza.

photo: Linnaea Mallette via publicdomainpictures.net

Tickets! Get Your Tickets!

Dates & Times: The fair kicks off on Fri., August 30 (noon to midnight) and goes through September 22. After Labor Day weekend, it's open Wed.-Sun. On weekdays, gates open at noon; while on weekends, they open at 10a.m. 

Cost: Admission to the fair on weekdays (Wed.-Fri.) costs $14 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $8 for kids ages 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free—woohoo! On weekends and holidays (ahem, Labor Day Monday), ticket prices jump to $20 for adults and $12 for kids ages 6-12. Be prepared to pay for parking—general parking is $15, VIP is $25, and valet is $30. 

Insider Tip: Visit any participating Ralphs Grocery store Aug. 21-Sept. 22 and you can score single-day admission tickets for just $12 for adults and $6 for kids.

photo: Laura Green

Let's Eat!

Of course, there's plenty of cotton candy, corn dogs, deed-fried everything (even watermelon) and even buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese in a waffle cone (yep, that's a thing). But you can also find fare that's, well, less fair-y. Past options have included vegan tacos, fruit smoothies and fresh grilled veggie flatbreads right from the farm. If none of those sounds good to your little ones, there's always the Rainbow Pop Grilled Cheese, which you can find at The Dog House for $6.50. 

Insider Tip: Find more meal option that are part of the $6.50 value menu.

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photo: Courtesy of RailGiants Train Museum

RailGiants Train Museum

All aboard! Locomotive-loving kids will love a stop at this museum on the Fairplex grounds. Step inside some of the largest steam engines and diesel locomotives in the world, plus explore authentic sleeping and dining cars, and a historical train depot built in 1885. Added bonus: Kids can even blow the whistle in a giant engine!

Garden Railroad

After checking out RailGiants, chugga-chugga on over to this miniature railroad that's been a Fair exhibit since 1924. With more than 10,000 feet of operating track, it's one of the largest public garden railroads in the U.S. Choo-choo!

Farm Fun

A county fair isn't a county fair without plenty of livestock to visit and pet. At the Big Red Barn, you'll find the Rawhide Dude Ranch where kids can learn to lasso a cow, ride on rocking horses and visit the resident horse Copper and her friends.

There also the Little Red Barn, home to all sorts of miniature critters like pint-sized horses, pigs, cows and more! Get a moo-ve on!

photo: Courtesy of LA County Fair

Kiddie Carnival

If your kids are adamant about trying out a few rides, make your way to the Kiddie Carnival (Behind the Garden Railraod) with rides specifically for the under 4-foot set. From mini bumper cars to a carousel, there's a little something for everyone.

For more info, visit lacountyfair.com.

–Shannan Rouss

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