Editor's note: the following post was written by San Diego native and Stay Alfred Sr. Social Media Manager Lindsey - enjoy!
Growing up in San Diego, Comic Con was a right of passage. As a teenager in the 90s, it was an event to adventure from the suburbs to downtown on the trolley, go hang out with your friends, maybe slap on a homemade or recycled Halloween costume (if you were really daring), adorn your badge, and commence nerding the heck out. That could entail shopping the floor for that can’t-pass-up Simpsons toy and collecting ALL the free swag you can or sitting crammed into a panel to hear from the makers and shakers of movie and comic cosmos.
Fast forward say 20 years, and this now older millennial hardly recognizes the San Diego Comic Con these days. I know it’s in town based on muscle memory and the sheer number of people descending upon the airport and Gaslamp.
But the highly produced, Hollywood marketing mechanism is more a well-oiled activation than in its more humble days of my youth. But don’t get me wrong - it’s still an amazing spectacle for culture buffs, there are just fewer booths bursting with comic books and more interactive pop ups of a new Hulu series.
Our five Stay Alfred properties tend to sell out well in advance during Comic Con, so we always highly recommend booking early:
- Stay Alfred at Av8 Living - located in the Little Italy neighborhood, you can easily access the convention center by hopping on the Trolley.
- Stay Alfred on G Street and Stay Alfred on 10th Avenue - these East Village havens are still an easy walk, rideshare or scooter ride down to the Con.
- Stay Alfred on 7th Avenue and Stay Alfred on 6th Avenue - you’ll be right in the middle of the action at these Gaslamp locations.
You’ve secured your travel apartment, but even if you didn’t score those coveted convention badges that sell out like hotcakes, you can still join in on the glory that is Comic Con with some good ole’ fashioned, high-quality people watching - or rather cosplay watching. Here are some of the best places to see and be seen during San Diego Comic Con this July 18-21, 2019.
Best Places for Comic Con People Watching
Take a Trolley Ride - San Diego does indeed have functional public transportation, and the Red Trolley line will be all abuzz during the Con. The Convention Center and Gaslamp Quarter stations will be the busiest as they’re the closest to all the action. Tons of people take the trolley to get to and from the Con, and will ride fully decked out in costume. If you’re staying with us downtown, I recommend hanging around the convention area then taking an afternoon trolley ride to Little Italy for happy hour.
Hotel Bar-Hopping - The Hard Rock, Omni and Marriott are all located directly across the street from the convention center and their lobbies and bars act as de-facto hubs for attendees. But be warned, some rooftop bars and clubs will be closed for private parties hosted by the bigger brands at Comic Con.
Stroll the Gaslamp - even if you just do a loop on Fifth Avenue, you’ll be guaranteed great people watching. Lined with restaurants, bars and clubs, the main drag of the Gaslamp will be bustling and busy during Con days, and here are a few places that always end up with attendees AND celeb sightings:
- The Blind Burro: very passable Mexican food and an increasing party vibe the later it gets.
- Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar: a little off the beaten path, post up for some pizza and you just might see a few private parties make their entrance.
- Union Kitchen & Tap: local beer, great patio - it’s a solid place to spend a few hours.
- The Tin Fish: literally across the street from the convention center and by Omni, this patio will be packed, but offers some of the most prime people watching.
Lounge Around the Embarcadero & Marina Park South - this is the big, wide-open space behind the convention center and right on the marina. Walk the Embarcadero (you just might see some celebs on yachts giving news interviews) and make your way to the park; this spot has been known for flash mobs and group lightsaber battles during the Con.
Hit Up East Village - the Gaslamp’s sister neighborhood just to the east offers fewer crowds and more Comic Con action every year.
- Punch Bowl Social: you know what Comic Con fans love? Games. And Punch Bowl Social delivers in a big way. Bowling, karaoke, bocce, shuffleboard, giant Scrabble, ping pong, billiards, foosball, board games, vintage arcade games - this place will bring the party during Comic Con.
Extra Insider Tips
July 14 San Diego Padres Game - It’s no secret some people spend more than a week in town during the Comic Con. If you happen to be in town on the Sunday before Comic Con, grab tickets to see the Padres at Petco Park - that night they’re giving away Padres-themed Charlie Brown bobbleheads, and there are sure to be more than a few Con attendees celebrating early.
Kindred - I can attest from personal experience that Kindred delivers on the people and celeb watching. Located about a 10-minute rideshare east from the Gaslamp, Kindred calls South Park home and is known for their vegan cuisine and metal-meets-the-Renaissance decor. Why is it such a hotbed? Firstly, it’s scientifically proven celebs from LA love vegan food. Secondly, this place is off the beaten path with way more locals than tourists.
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