Orange County offers relief from Carmageddon


See a live cam shot of the Mulholland Bridge construction site.

It was opening day Friday at the Orange County Fair.

From the Baby Ruth-stuffed deep-fried jalapeno to the deep-fried corn dog, it fits this year's theme of "Let's Eat."

There are new attractions for the kids and places to cool off. The ice museum is displaying ocean-themed sculptures."

Fair officials say more than 30,000 people showed up in the first hour to get in for free. That's up 25 percent from last year, a good start to a weekend that could be uncertain with Carmegeddon in Los Angeles County. The fair is encouraging people coming from L.A. to take the train.

"If you take the train at Union Station L.A. to the Santa Ana Depot and take the OC Fair flyer bus, $3 round-trip, it gives you a $2 admission into the OC Fair, so it's a pretty good deal if you want to get out of Carmageddon," said Robin Wachner, a spokesperson for the fair.

In south Orange County, Visit Newport Beach, a non-profit group helping promote the city, is taking advantage of L.A.'s woes with a slick ad encouraging people to ride the waves instead of the brakes.

"Many of our hotels are already reporting sell-out conditions," said Gary Sherwin, Visit Newport Beach president.

Six hotels in Newport Beach are offering special discount packages this weekend, including the Fairmont, the Hyatt Regency and the Newport Beach Marriott. Some are offering discounts on food and spa treatments.

"Our 'escape the gridlock' package, we're doing a $139 rate, which is huge, it's a great way to experience a luxury hotel at affordable prices," said Rei Strand, Fairmont Newport Beach spokesperson.

But are the sell-out conditions due to Angelenos escaping Carmegeddon or just people who would normally be on vacation?

Whatever the reason for the increase in visitors, businesses and attractions in Orange County aren't complaining.

"It's a great time to be inconvenienced in Los Angeles as far as we're concerned," said Sherwin.

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