This was inspired by sora_thekey's post Survival Guide to SD Comic-Con 2010.
San Diego isn't as big as New York City, but we don't have as nice of a subway system as NYC. Here's some tips on how to get around town during the convention.
Hotels There's two main areas of town where the hotels are at: Downtown and Mission Valley (Hotel Circle).
From Hotel Circle, you need to drive/get to Fashion Valley to get onto the Trolley - that's about a mile away. Some hotels might have shuttles going downtown.
From downtown hotels, if you're close enough to the San Diego Convention Center, then you can walk. Otherwise, a short Trolley ride might be needed, if you're close to a Trolley stop.
If you're stay farther away and taking a (rental) car, then see below for car/parking info.
Bed & Breakfasts There's a handful of B&Bs around town. I'm sure the owners there will be able to help get you to wherever you need to go.
If you don't have a room yet, check out Air Bed & Breakfast (Air B&B) web site to reserve a room at someone's house and maybe save some money from a hotel.
The streets in San Diego are numbered going east to west (north/south bound). So 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, etc. run north to south. 6th Ave is going to be east of 3rd Ave. This works well, except for a handful of the eastern most streets. If you are staying near the Convention Center, then you'll just see numbered streets going east/west (north/south bound).
The streets are alphabetical going north to south (east/west bound). Starting with A Street, then B, etc. So J Street is south of G Street. If you're heading north of A Street, then it starts over with Ash Street, Beech St, Cedar St - alphabetical named after trees going ascending order.
If you're walking, just look at the map understanding this logic and you'll figure out what I'm trying to say :)
There's a few exceptions like Market St and Broadway Ave to the naming, but for the most part it's accurate enough to judge general directions and distances. Also, for some reason the blocks here aren't square. Walking North/South is sometimes twice as far as walking east/west on the same block.
A Pedi-cab are the bicycles that pull a cart behind it. These are an annoyance to many of the locals because of the loose (virtually none) limits placed on getting a license. Last year, a Pedi-cab driver was going so fast a passenger fell out of the back and died (she was old and hit her head). Read about it here. That upset a lot of locals and the city council have tried to start getting tougher on them. You should be warned that it could be dangerous depending on the driver and not all driver's know their way around town that well. As a automobile driver, I can state that these guys drive all over the road and sidewalks. So be careful if you choose this method of transportation.
Also, please don't load up 3 "big" guys in the back of a cart and have a 110 lb girl peddle you through downtown. Although, it's very common and you might think it's funny, it just looks ridiculous.
I've only used taxis here to get to/from the airport. In general, these guys know how to get around town pretty well, but they drive like NYC taxi drivers so be warned and be careful.
There's a good amount of buses that traverse the city. You need to check out either Google maps (bus routes) or use the San Diego Metro Transit System Trip-Finder web site.
The Trolley is offering special discounted day passes for Comic-Con. Remember to purchase tickets before boarding! You can't buy the ticket once you step on board.
Day Pass Rates:
Comic Con Trolley Schedule
- 1-Day = $5
- 2-Days = $9
- 3-Days = $12
- 4-Days = $15
I have parked my car at the SDCC parking before and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. However, if you want to avoid that headache, then you can park at one of the following places and take the Trolley. Qualcomm Stadium parking is the easiest to find a spot at. You can park at the smaller stops, but the parking lots there might be full. Qualcomm has a huge parking lot. All of the parking areas are listed here.
San Diego Districts/Neighborhoods
Seaport Village - Not a district, but distinct enough. This area is just north of the SD Convention Center. There's lots of shops and a few restaurants here. A bit further away is the Fish Market restaurant next to the USS Midway and a giant WW2 statue.
Downtown - This is used to describe several areas, but mostly the Center City area. This is where Horton's Plaza and the County and Federal Courthouse are at. American Plaza and Santa Fe Train Depot are here (both are Trolley stops).
Little Italy - This area has lots of Italy restaurants and coffee shops. It is a couple of blocks north of "downtown." There is a couple of trolley stops here. If you're looking for good Italian food, then I recommend Filippi's Pizza Grotto. If you're looking for some unique food (or you're a foodie), try Indigo Grill - it's one of the three places operated by one of our local chefs. Almost every shop/restaurant are on India St, so if you exit Trolley just head a block or so east until you get to India St. If you're really into desserts, then you'll have to stop by Extraordinary Deserts (there's another one near Hillcrest, which has a much different feel. The Lit Italy shop is much more urban/concrete. The original one in Hilcrest is much more comfy. If you have a car, drive to the one in Hillcrest, the food is same but atmosphere is better.)
Gas Lamp - This is the area to the east of the Convention Center. There's lots of bars and clubs and some restaurants. This area is normally the area where drunken college age people hang out at night. This will be the most crowded area during your visit due to it's normal traffic + proximity to convention center. If you're going to eat out here, then I'd recommend The Field (Irish restaurant). The Field has local music, Guinness, and Shepard's Pie - what else do you need?!? Another is Royal India. For others (not really my thing), there's a Hooters and Dick's Last Resort where the waiters/waitresses yell insults at you the entire time. Dick's Last Resort is very touristy and popular for some reason. There's trolley stops here.
East Village - This is where the San Diego Padre's stadium is at. It's an upcoming area that used to be not all that great, but there's been a lot of new development and hi-rises built over the last few years there. I think there's some trolley stops here, if not, it's just a few blocks east of Gas Lamp.
Balboa Park - Not really a district, but big enough for it's own entry. This is like the Central Park (NYC) for San Diego. The SD Zoo is here and many, many museums. There's one pricey restaurant (The Prado) and a few smaller places to eat there. There's an IMAX theatre there at the Fleet Science Museum. Unfortunately, there's no trolley stops here. It's our biggest attraction in town and you have to drive or take a bus there. The park is north east of downtown. It's probably about 2-3 miles from SDCC.
Hillcrest - This area is just north of Balboa Park. There's lots of decently priced restaurants here. This is where many of the locals go to "eat out." There's no trolley stops here and parking is very hard to find. There's too many restaurants to recommend for Hillcrest, but here's a few: Amarin Thai, Kemo Sabe, Extraordinary Desserts, Taste of Thai, Bombay Cuisine of India.
Old Town - This "historic" district is the original downtown of San Diego. There's a big transportation hub here (buses, trolley). There's lots of Mexican food and Margaritas. There's an "old town" area with buildings and shops focusing on the founding time of San Diego. If you're looking for good Mexican food, then this is the easiest and probably best option (instead of taking you chance elsewhere). There's lots of other good Mexican places to eat, but for non-locals, this might be the easiest and most convenient. If you take the trolley, just exit and head north/east towards the "old town" buildings. If you take a right out of the Trolley offload area, go down the street, and then take a left, you'll eventually end up on San Diego Ave.
Mission Bay - This is the popular tourist destination for beaches and bars, etc. It's a short drive north of downtown.
As always, consult a map or your phone maps for exact directions :)
If you have any questions about food or transportation, just ask and I'll try to track down the information.