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Countdown to Comic-Con: The Convention Center is Only Half The Battle

We’re counting down the weeks leading up to Comic-Con by reposting some of our important SDCC tips which have appeared on the blog over the years, updated with current information. You can find all of our guides under the main menu, or by clicking here.

Three months and counting until SDCC!Companies have been announcing their exclusive SDCC merchandise for weeks, and you’ll most likely want to save your money for some of these limited-edition mementos for your geek mantle. The best way to do this is to limit the amount of cash you spend outside of the convention center by keeping an eye out for free events and parties. There are always events hosted by Hollywood studios, video game companies and entertainment blogs where you could partake in SDCC-exclusive merchandise giveaways, meet celebs, and most importantly score free food and drink. Keep an eye out here for offsite events as they are announced, and jump on them quickly, as the free ones are limited capacity and fill up fast.

Yes, the convention center is an amazing place. If you can run off of Starbucks and Mrs. Fields you should feel free to stay there all day. Hey, if you can find a dark and concealed corner you could stay there all night. We’re assuming neither of those will happen though, so this is the guide for when you leave the convention center and journey into San Diego!

Eating Out

Most attendees will find that eating outside of the convention center yields the best results. Sure, packing snacks can help you through the times when you have a ton of panels in a row, but we find that a real dinner or lunch each day will go a far way to restoring one’s energy. The great thing about this is that right across the street from the convention center is the awesome Gaslamp District. There are restaurants everywhere and people looking to avoid lines can even go a little bit farther into San Diego and find restaurants that aren’t very crowded. The big warning for eating out is that fast places such as Subway are going to be packed. Lines can take up to 30 minutes so we find that choosing a sit down place will get you better food and barely take longer.

The Gaslamp Association, the area of the city just outside of the Convention Center, has a helpful dining guide. This is a great resource if you want to plan out your meals and find a specific restaurant that suits your tastes. Another good guide can be found at, which labels each restaurant by their prices. We also polled our readers for the best places to eat in the area, for those on a specific diet. And remember, Yelp and Google on a smartphone can be great for finding a restaurant quickly.

Though the above tips apply to lunch and dinner, breakfast is an important meal to many attendees. For some people’s needs, a hotel buffet will work fine as they are moderately quick and their food is of decent quality. The majority of attendees will most likely want their breakfast really fast though, and an emerging hotel trend caters to that. Many of the premiere hotels (including the Hard Rock and the Hilton Bayfront) have started selling breakfast boxes. These include a drink, bagel. and probably some fruit. They come in portable boxes and you can take them to wherever you plan to wait in the morning. They’re not delicious, but they are really useful and great if you plan to line up early for Hall H or Ballroom 20. Ask your hotel if they sell any and if not then you can look around for one at nearby shops or hotels. There’s also Starbucks in the Hilton Bayfront and Marriott Marquis & Marina, if you need to make a quick latte run while you’re in line.

Offsite Events

A guide to offsite events is pretty self-explanatory. Just leave the convention center and do something. There are some really important tips when heading to these events though, so it’s best to be ready. Here are the top three things to remember.

  • Don’t Lose Your Badge – Without your badge it’s impossible to be let into the con. Keep it in a safe place when outside the convention and whatever you do, don’t lose it or have it stolen.
  • Don’t Forget Things at the Bag Check -The bag check hours haven’t been published yet, but in years past it has been open until 2AM. Though those early-morning hours seem crazy, you’d be surprised at the times many events will end. Don’t knock on the convention center doors at 4 AM hoping to get that suitcase. It’s even worse since Security will probably stand inside and laugh at you. And if you know SDCC Security, you can imagine how embarrassing that would be.
  • The Con has Awesome Night Activities Too – Don’t feel like you have to leave the convention center to have a good time. There are usually awesome panels and screenings that go late into the night.


Much like the offsite events, hotels are mostly standard operating procedures when you’re at the con. Here are a few SDCC-specific tips to make sure your stays go smoothly.

  • Find Out Exactly Where the Shuttle Stops – Don’t be that guy on the wrong end of the street when the shuttle pulls in. If that happens, you deserve to be mocked.
  • Know Your Shuttle Route Color – Getting on the shuttle at 1 AM and ending up at the Hark Rock ready to go to sleep is awesome. Unless you’re staying at a Sheraton.
  • See if Your Hotel Has Anything Going On – Many of the bigger hotels have awesome events/deals that center around Comic-Con. Asking at the front desk when you check in can result in savings and good times.

Any good tips to share about getting by outside of the convention center? Please share with our readers in the comments.

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