Sunday, June 7, 2015

Family Outing: San Mateo County Fair (San Mateo)

We had such a fun family outing today at the San Mateo County Fair!!

Highlights were...

The pony rides...

The fun (and free!) kids' area with hands-on pretend farm tasks (milking a cow, raking up after sheep, collecting eggs from chickens and selling them at the farmers' market, tractor riding, music-making and more)...

The 4H Barn full of cows, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens...

The indoor kids' area with awesome puzzles, games (gears, magnets, marble run, much more), a bookmobile, and a set of Imagination Playground blocks...

And the super cool reptile/rainforest area, where we saw snakes, tortoises, lizards, parrots and an alligator! 

Toddler X also loved the rides and the chance to check out a Coast Guard boat (the latter was just there today for the emergency preparedness theme).

And the kettle corn -- ah, the kettle corn...

A few tips: Parking in the lot is $10 cash, and there really aren't any park-elsewhere-and-walk-in options that we could see (nearby parking on El Camino had a 1 or 2 hour limit). The entrance to the lot is very poorly designed, with just one lane turning in from each direction, so traffic in that lane backs up waaaay in advance of the turn in (though it moves reasonably quickly). If you exit Highway 101 at Hillsdale, then turn right onto Saratoga Road, get in your left lane right away -- traffic soon will start to back up, and if you find yourself in the right lane, there will be no way to get over (and you'll have to drive around the block, searching for somewhere to make a u-turn, as we did).

Adults are $10 each, kids under 5 are free. There was a Groupon but it's over.

It seems that you're not allowed to bring in food and drinks, but they make an exception for families with little kids (sort of like TSA). The guy in front of us in the bag check line was told he couldn't bring his water bottle in -- the same lady looked at our water bottle and graham crackers, said, "For the baby?", and waved us through.

The rides are typical carnival rides, but we noticed that they last a surprisingly long time -- like, twice as long as other kiddie rides we've tried. There are 6 rides that a toddler over 36" can ride alone, and several more that he or she can ride with a parent. Toddler X loved the teacups, the motorcycles and the Corvettes. smile emoticon Each of those was three tickets, and tickets run $1 each. You can also get all day wristbands, and I *think* they're cheaper if you buy online in advance than if you buy at the fair.

The pony rides were $8 and lots of fun. They also have a petting zoo and one of those butterfly houses, though we didn't stop there, and pig racing, which we missed. There's plenty of free stuff to entertain a toddler, too -- we saw Chinese acrobats, some kids doing hip hop dances and a folk musician on the stages, plus the free farm fun near the 4H barn and all the cool free activities in the main indoor exhibition hall. Hilariously, Toddler X's ultimate favorite may have been the silly foot massage machines they had set up everywhere -- we made a couple of toddler friends as they climbed back and forth on those.

Check out the information online for performance schedules and deals -- there are different discounts various days this week, and the fair goes on through next Sunday, the 14th.

Happy toddling!

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