San Diego Comic-Con travel guide: Transportation services and tips
By Brittany Cruz
San Diego Comic-Con is just around the corner! You’ve got your bags packed and plane tickets purchased, but what comes next? Unless you are one of the lucky people staying in the Gaslamp Quarter district across from the San Diego Convention Center or live nearby, it is likely you reserved a hotel or rented a space offsite.
Those who are trying to figure out the best way to get to downtown San Diego will be happy to know there are plenty of convenient options that eliminate the hassle of driving in traffic and paying for parking. Below is a comprehensive list of transportation services that can get you to Comic-Con, along with a few extra travel tips to help make your journey even easier.
Please note the availability, scheduling, and pricing of the services listed are subject to change. Check the links provided for the most up-to-date information.
Comic-Con Shuttle Bus
The free shuttle bus service provided for Comic-Con attendees is easily accessible and runs frequently, with arrival times every 15 to 30 minutes. The 24-hour shuttle service goes to more than 60 destinations, including hotels around the San Diego International Airport. Riders will need to show their badges before boarding.
If you reserved a hotel on the Comic-Con International Hotel List, chances are there is a shuttle bus that goes to the Convention Center, but this is not guaranteed. Check with your hotel directly to see what transit services are provided, if any.
The buses will run throughout all five days of Comic-Con. Be mindful that the schedule for Wednesday’s preview night is different, and the buses will not be available until a few hours before the convention opens in the evening. Anyone attending preview night who wants to go downtown earlier in the day will need to use a different service.
Metropolitan Transit System Trolley
Another local service that can get you where you need to go is the MTS Trolley, which will offer special event fares and commemorative passes during Comic-Con. For anybody who plans on bringing their little ones, a maximum of two children (age 5 and younger) may ride for free on weekdays, and two children (age 12 and younger) may ride for free on Saturday and Sunday during Family Weekends.
Save time by downloading the Compass Cloud mobile ticketing app, which allows users to pay for the trolley and other select transportation services. Activate the ticket through the app before riding, then show the fare enforcement officer when asked.
Unlike the shuttle buses, the trolley is open to the public, which means more crowds. You might not get a seat, so be prepared to stand and hold onto whatever items you bring. Take this into consideration before going on a shopping spree and buying anything that may be too difficult or fragile to carry.
For anyone not keen on taking the shuttle bus or trolley, a car-ride service like Uber or Lyft is a good alternative. These services tend to raise their prices during holidays and big events like Comic-Con, but be sure to take advantage of the Split Fare feature if you are riding with multiple people. Uber also offers a carpool option so riders traveling in the same direction can share the cost, just select uberPOOL when scheduling a pickup.
Keep in mind the entire downtown area is extremely crowded. It is best to get dropped off a safe distance away from the convention. Otherwise, you will be wasting time stuck in traffic when it would have taken half the time to walk part of the way.
Going to one of the nearby hotels will help bypass part of the Convention Center entrance area, which is always a traffic nightmare. The Omni San Diego Hotel, Marriott Marquis Marina or the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter are good places to be dropped off at, but feel free to do a little more research and pick what works best for you.
For those who enjoy a nice view, the COASTER commuter train is perfect for taking in the beachside scenery. The train has been in service for more than 20 years and travels from Oceanside to downtown San Diego. Riders should get off at the Santa Fe Depot station and expect about a 10-minute walk to the Convention Center, or you can jump on the Green Line MTS Trolley going south.
Another option is the Pacific Surfliner, which is one of Amtrak California’s three commuting routes and runs along the Southern California coastline. The train travels from San Luis Obispo to downtown San Diego, stopping at the Santa Fe Depot station. Due to the influx of travelers, the San Diego Comic-Con International website states that reservations may be necessary for anyone going from Los Angeles to San Diego between July 19 and July 23.
Is there any transportation service not listed that you would like to add? Tell us in the comments!