Spring, summer and fall, North America's regional fairs offer cheap family fun, animal-watching and crafts appreciation, not to mention great food.
Summer offers many top-value vacation ideas that need little advance planning. There are many opportunities for educational and environmentally-friendly travel, and unique events like America’s grand state fairs for wallet-friendly, unexpected fun.
The most fun part of many state fairs is the chance to explore one of America’s “secondary” destinations: rural towns or not-particularly-touristy capitals.
These pockets of regional language, cuisine, and lifestyle will be as foreign to most kids as faraway lands. Best yet, these experiences are mostly attended by locals who don’t need a hotel room. That gives your family plenty of planning leeway.
Some of 2009’s biggest and best summer fairs (many of which have their own websites) are below; note that these annual events are usually held around the same time each year.
Orange County Fair (714/708-1500), Costa Mesa, CA- July 11-Aug. 3 (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)
Ohio State Fair (614/644-3247), Columbus- July 29-Aug. 9
Erie County Fair & Exposition (716/649-3900 ext 260, 261, 360, 480, 510), Hamburg, NY- Aug. 11-23
Iowa State Fair (515/262-3111), Des Moines- Aug. 13-23
Illinois State Fair (217/782-6661), Springfield- Aug. 13-23
California State Fair (916/263-FAIR), Sacramento- Aug. 15-Sept. 1
Evergreen State Fair (360/805-6700), Monroe, WA- Aug. 21-Sept. 1
Minnesota State Fair (651/642-2372), St. Paul- Aug. 27-Sept. 7
New York State Fair (800/475-FAIR), Syracuse- Aug. 27-Sept. 7
Nebraska State Fair (402/474-5371), Lincoln- Aug. 28-Sept. 6
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.