Southern California / USA

Instagrammable Photo Spots at the Orange County Fair

Every summer from mid July through mid August, the county fair comes to Orange County, California. Towering ferris wheels and neon-colored rides add to the skyline as the smells of kettle corn, barbecue, and barnyard hay fill the air. Wandering between rows of roasting meat and fried desserts to the crowded village of handmade trinkets in the marketplace can be a photographer’s dream. Below are my top Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair.

This article contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. For more info, please see my affiliate disclaimer.

the sun setting behind the chair lift over the crowd at the OC fair
A chair lift runs over the crowd at the OC Fair

1. Carnival Rides and Games (the most colorful Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair)

The Carnival Rides and Games area of the OC Fair is the wildest section of the event. The combination of neon colors in the day time makes for stunning photos in the California sun. Pick a game like water shooting, ball throwing, or ring tossing, and grab some great action shots. Be sure the game is in the background so you get the full display of colors behind you. Standing in front of some colorful rides, holding crazy fair food or game prizes always make fun shots as well. If you’re still around after sunset, this location lights up and becomes magical at night.

Playing a water game at the Orange County Fair
Trying to win a stuffed animal at a carnival game

Carnival Ride and Game Tickets

There are two carnival areas at the OC Fair: Main Carnival and Kidland. Ride and game tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths on site, or there is an app called FunPass, which you can use to buy tickets ahead of time or reload while at the fair.

Colorful carnival games can be a great instagram photo spot
Carnival Games at the OC Fair

2. Centennial Farm

The Centennial Farm is one of my favorite Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair. It’s a 3-acre working farm, and is perfect for pictures including flowers, red barn backdrops, antique farm equipment, and pretty rows of growing crops. Using a background of sunflowers or growing corn makes for some pretty wholesome and adorable county fair photos.

Centennial Farm Animals

The farm also has animals on display, including pigs (check out the OC Fair Pig Cam to watch the piglets!), goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and plenty more. They are brought to the fair during the day, and relax in the shade sleeping and grazing on food. While I love seeing the animals, I don’t think they’re the best subjects or backgrounds for Instagram photos. But I recommend visiting these areas with kids, or if you’re just obsessed with cute animals like I am.

Viewing the baby pigs at the OC fair
Viewing the baby pigs!

Visiting the Centennial Farm at the OC Fair

The Centennial Farm is open from 10am – 4pm daily while the fair is in town. The crops and flowers will look the most fresh in the morning, and if you’re looking for evening photos, be sure to show up before 4pm to get your shots. This area tends to be most crowded at midday as well, so best to grab your Centennial Farm photos in the morning or afternoon.

Afternoon sun shining though tall sunflowers
Sunset at the Centennial Farm

3. Designated Selfie Spots (the funniest Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair)

The OC Fair has caught up to social media, and has started providing designated selfie spots and photo stations. They are always really clever and cute, and are fun for both kids and adults. A lot of these are large photo props or backdrops, so it’s best to have a friend (or friendly stranger) take your photos for you to get the full piece in the photo, rather than trying to take a selfie. Be sure to tag #ocfairfun for a chance to be featured on the Orange County Fair Instagram!

Posing by a selfie station
Posing at the Selfie Station

Selfie Spot Location: California Fresh Exhibit

The selfie spot station may change locations from time to time, but lately it’s been located inside the California Fresh Exhibit, which is at the OC Promenade. This is perfect because it’s located in a shaded area, convenient for getting you out of the midday sun. This is one of the unique Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair that is actually perfect for noon when the sun is too harsh for photos outside.

4. The Food Stalls

The food stalls are notoriously over the top at the OC Fair, and make for amazing and funny photos. There are rows and rows of businesses competing with each other, so they are all decked out in bright colors, with eye-catching signs and flags. Most have giant images of the foods being offered, which can be fun to stand in front of while holding the actual food.

No Shortage of Options for Food

There is something for everyone at the OC Fair. The most over the top booths are usually for barbecue and desserts. The barbecue stalls usually have giant slabs of meat hanging on display and being cooked right out front, with smoke filling the air as you pass by. The desserts range from standard treats like ice cream and slushees to fried treats like Oreos and Twinkies. The food booths are open late into the night as well, underlit with spot lights, making the food stalls a pretty surreal and fun spot for Instagram night pictures.

Orange County fair food: grilling bacon and turkey legs
Giant smoked turkey legs for sale

5. The Big OC Fair Sign (one of the most iconic Instagrammable photo spots at the Orange County Fair)

The large OC Fair sign welcomes guests as they enter the Orange County Fairgrounds. It’s iconic, and is the perfect spot for taking photos. The sign is usually pretty large, so either pick one letter to stand in front of, or stand on the far end of the sign to try and squeeze the whole sign in your frame at an angle. This is a great group or family photo, so don’t be afraid to ask some friendly strangers to snap your picture at this spot.

The OC Fair sign: a great photo opportunity in Orange County, california
The OC Fair sign welcomes visitors as they enter

What to Bring to the Orange County Fair

Visiting the Orange County Fair can be an all day event, so make sure you’re prepared. Below are some items and tips on what to pack when visiting the OC Fair.

  • Back up batteries. Whether you’re using your phone or a camera to take photos, be sure to bring the necessary charging cords and power banks to keep you going.
  • A backpack or tote bag. Not only are you probably bringing a lot, you may be shopping a lot as well. Make sure you have space to hold it all.
  • A good camera. I like to bring my Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera, or I just use my iPhone when I don’t want too much to carry. For more on what photography equipment I use, be sure to check out my article on Travel Blogging Photography Gear.
  • Water bottle, but only if in a factory-sealed bottle. Plenty of water and other drinks are sold at the fair as needed.

  • Comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking all day. If you’re really wanting to wear something nicer in your Instagram photos, bringing a change of shoes may be a good idea.
  • A change of clothes for some variety in your photos. If you’re wanting to take your Instagram game to the next level, bring a change of clothes for some variety. That way you’re not wearing the exact same thing in all of your photos.
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. Why not make the hat a cute one for photos? Check out my article on choosing a summer sun hat.
  • Hand sanitizer, especially if you’re going to be playing games and going on rides.

What Not to Bring

Be sure to check the General Information Page on the OC Fair website for a list of things not to bring. Some useful examples include: Do not bring selfie sticks, tripods, professional photography equipment, or drones.

The Orange County Fair at night with lit up Ferris wheel and food stalls
Nighttime at the OC Fair

Pin for Later: Instagrammable Photo Spots at the Orange County Fair

Instagrammable Photo Spots at the Orange County Fair, California
Save to Pinterest: Instagrammable Photo Spots at the Orange County Fair

Looking for Other Southern California Instagram Photo Spots?