Comic-Con celebrated its 47th year in San Diego this past weekend as over 140,000 attendees embarked upon San Diego to geek out with their fellow comic-crazed crowd. While this event is easily the biggest and the best Comic-Con that takes place, it is also frequently the most difficult to navigate, has the longest lines, and is the most competitive to get tickets to.
The entire Comic-Con San Diego experience can be a little prohibitive if you don’t do some serious planning several months beforehand. If you’re looking to partake in the Comic-Con fun but don’t have the commitment to plan months in advance, there are several Comic-Con-adjacent events that take place every year in San Diego and can be just as fun as the main event.
Get ready to cosplay and head to downtown San Diego for the...
Top 10 Things to Do at Comic-Con Without a Badge:
1. Nerd HQ:
This free event (registration required) takes place over the four days of Comic-Con at the Children’s Museum in San Diego. It includes panel discussions with celebrities, exclusive gaming opportunities, dance parties, and more. Nerd HQ is a benefit event to raise money for Operation Smile, and is truly a must-attend event if you are in San Diego during Comic-Con.
2. ZombieWalk San Diego:
Need an excuse to wear a costume, but don’t know who to be? How about a zombie! This annual event walks (slowly) through the Gaslamp District in San Diego, and is right on cue with the cosplay and costumes of Comic-Con.
3. Dress Up and People-Watch:
The streets of downtown San Diego are swarming with Comic-Con attendees and wanna-bes alike, so put your costume on and head to the Gaslamp District for some epic people-watching, cosplay, and the unexpected. If you ride the trolley downtown, you are definitely in for an adventure—that many people, in costume, packed into a small train car is sure to yield some stories. You may even get some great costume ideas for next year!
4. Free Swag:
Many companies at Comic-Con take over shops near the convention center and hand out free stuff instead of hosting a booth inside. For example, the Syfy Network has taken over the cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel over the past several years to hand out their swag to anyone who walks by. This happens all over downtown, and usually comes in the form of custom shirts and bags.
5. Camp Conival:
Camp Conival takes place during San Diego Comic-Con at Petco Park, which is right across the street from the San Diego Convention Center. This summer camp-themed festival includes celebrity panels, gaming, laser tag, and more.
"Camp Conival was a #CNWin at #SDCC2016!"
This four-day event takes place in San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park North and is “the hangout for fans.” It’s a great place to escape the craziness of the convention center for fans, and a fun place to mingle for those without badges to Comic-Con San Diego. It features concerts, gaming, food trucks, phone charging, and hydration stations.
7. Free WiFi in the Gaslamp:
There is free WiFi all over San Diego’s Gaslamp District during Comic-Con. In 2016, it meant everyone could play Pokémon Go throughout downtown. During non-Pokémon years, it means that you can stay connected to what’s going on inside the convention and get tips on hot spots as they are announced without a causing a huge drain on your data plan.
"Free WiFi all over San Diego's Gaslamp District? Well done Comic-Con! #CNWin #SDCC2016
Many concerts take place around San Diego the week of Comic-Con. This year, Weird Al Yankovic took his world tour to San Diego during Comic-Con and performed at the SDSU Open Air Theater. The San Diego Symphony also celebrates Comic-Con as part of its summer concert series. In 2016, they held two concerts surrounding Comic-Con. Final Symphony: Music From Final Fantasy VI, VII and X and Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses—Master Quest.
9. Balboa Park After Dark:
This San Diego landmark keeps nine museums open late during Comic-Con for visitors to enjoy. They also have Comic-Con related activities and live performances.
10. Craft Beer:
You can never go wrong with costumes and beer! The two combine for good entertainment at Heroes Brew Fest annual festival of over 100 craft brews, a costume contest, music and food! You can also check out Hop Con 4.0, which usually has celebrities, tastings, food and games and takes place at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden in Liberty Station.
"You can never go wrong with costumes and beer! #CNWin #SDCC2016"
You may still be coming down from your weekend at Comic-Con, but we’re already looking ahead to next year. We can’t wait for another round of the best comic convention all year.
Have you attended Comic-Con in the past? Tell us what you thought of the event, and what you’re looking forward to next year by writing a review on Convention Nation!