6 Free things to do in San Diego during Comic Con
“I’ve fallen in love like 8 times today.”
“That so?” I ask.
My friend Jake is happy right now. Tipsy too.
We just finished our Sculpin IPA’s at the Ballast Point Brewery in the Little Italy and are
walking back down to the Gas Lamp district downtown.
It’s a bit of a hike but we don’t care.
We chose this area for easier parking and fantastic brew at the pub. The IPA’s we just washed down are some of the best we’ve ever tasted.
“Ohh…gotta make it nine now.” Jake says. “NINE!”
“Freaking quiet man!” I say. “You sound like a crazy German when you yell like that.”
I look at him and try to see who caused him to shout.
I follow his gaze it becomes obvious.
He has spotted Wonder Woman.
Jake and I both live in San Diego. We don’t have tickets for Comic Con this year but decided to go downtown tonight for nothing else than to people watch.
And to find our wives, apparently.
Living anywhere for any length of time a person will find the best things to do for cheap.
As we make our way down the sidewalk to catch a show I start listing some of my favorites of San Diego in my head one by one.
I wonder what number I’ll get to before Jake spots number “Ten”.
Here they are.
Beaches & Sharks
Duh, I know.
A day at the beach is never a bad idea.
Sure, any beach from OB to PB to Encinitas will have plenty of sand, sun and waves.
But one of San Diego’s playas has something that others don’t.
For the best “free” experience you can swim with sharks in La Jolla.
Pack a mask in your luggage before you fly and snorkel with some Leopard Sharks at La
These sharks, harmless to humans, migrate to the area between June and October by the hundreds. Getting up close and personal with them and in touch with your inner Marine Biologist (Scripps Institution of Oceanography is just up the beach) is super easy.
Just start swimming right in front of the Marine Room restaurant. You can’t miss ’em.
You can always spend a little dough and have Bike and Kayak San Diego help you out.
The beach isn’t only for Leopard Sharks either. The whole area is gorgeous!
The choices are many for a good Free time.
Be immersed in nature, not staring at it behind a pane of glass.
Suck it, SeaWorld.
Torrey Pines from behind
The phrase is probably better suited for Blacks Beach, San Diego’s famous Nude Beach just to the south (free as well).
But we liked the sound of it better for this State Reserve.
Parking stinks, at $10. However, you can park along N. Torrey Pines Road by the beach for free.
Come early or go late to find a spot. You’ll be able walk along the beach and cliffs and enter the Reserve from there.
The walk itself is a good way to spend a few hours. When you see a stair case in the cliffs, simply walk on up.
Soon you are in one of the last areas on the planet where the Torrey Pine grows naturally.
Trail run or take a leisurely stroll. You can easily spend half a day here.
Make sure you have plenty of memory on your phone, you’re gonna take a lot of pics.
Balboa Park wandering
No need to spend a dime to chill in this mini Central Park of San Diego.
Feeling more active? Bring your Nikes and do some trail running in the park and under the famous Cabrillo Bridge.
You could spend all day here if you’re not careful.
SeaWorld Fireworks and Mission Bay
You don’t need to shell out $50+ for a ticket to SeaWorld to see their fireworks.
They explode every evening between 8:50 and 9:50 pm. You can check the schedule here.
Grab a towel from your hotel and plop down on one of the many grassy parks surrounding Mission Bay
and have a fantastic view.
Or…go to Mission Bay during the day to begin with!
Miles of andy beaches surround the 4,000+ acre water playground just to the north of San Diego.
Catch a Lyft/Uber or go yourself even cheaper with a Fox Rental Car
Or you can earn those beers you are going to drink in the GasLamp and pedal from downtown using Deco Bike.
The parks and beaches will be much less crowded than any facing the Pacific.
Old Town, a birthplace
Want a bit of history?
Step back in time and stroll around Old Town, San Diego.
The area is actually a State Park and birthplace of California. There are over 15 historic points of interest in the area as well as galleries, shops, small museums and theaters. Walk around and feel what life was like in the mid 1800’s.
Being so close to downtown San Diego you can’t NOT go here.
It’s super easy. Catch a Lyft/Uber, yes again. Or better yet…rent a bike from Deco Bike, and return it whenever, wherever. Earn those burritos!
And when you are done…you’ll be in one of the best areas for Mexican food around.
Yep…get your butt to Tijuana.
The place is great!
Tijuana or TJ, is closer to San Diego than you think.
You can be in Mexico chowing down on REAL tacos and cheap beer in no time.
Take the Trolly (Blue Line) from down town get off at the last stop, San Ysidro. Then…follow signs…walk across.
You are in Mexico!!
So Easy! Just don’t forget your passport.
Taking the trolly takes a bit more time…but by car you can be at the border in less than 30min. Just don’t go during rush hour. There will be wait to get INTO Mexico.
Once there take a stroll down Avenida de Revolucion and have rattlesnake tequila or a mezcal at the famous Bar Dandy del Sur. You’ll feel like you stepped into a Robert Rodrigues movie when you come into this place.
Keep on going south down the street and get a caesar salad at the famous, you guessed it, Caesars Restaurant.
If you can believe it…the caesar salad was invented here.
The place itself is cool too. Shiny brass on the bar. Old school gents making your margaritas behind it. Order yourself up one of those famous salads and it will be made by your table.
And of course there are the multitude of loud and cheap Corona joins along this drag to keep you busy for more than a few hours.
But don’t let the “main drag” of Tijuana be your only impression. Surrounding areas are a gastronomic heaven of good food and craft beer.
There is more than meets the eye in Tijuana.
Transformers Reference, Yeah!
We didn’t quite make it downtown.
And it looks like I only got up to six ideas.
Jake spotted another famous character and was staring. Again.
“Who is it this time?” I ask.
“Princess Leia.” he says, not looking back. “I really think I’m gonna marry this one.”
“Well dude, you do kinda look like a Luke Skywalker.” I say. “Go over and show her your lightsaber.”
He turns from staring at the princess and looks at me.
He’s not smiling.
I guess he didn’t like the joke. Or didn’t get it.
“Gross dude, I can’t do that if I’m Luke. I don’t wanna show my lightsaber to my sister.”
I immediately recognize my blunder.
Shame on me for forgetting such an easy piece of trivia.
“Well then go talk to her Haaaans!” I say, pushing him hard on the shoulder in her direction.
Jake stumbles a bit and shuffles his way toward the sidewalk where she is standing.
She is surrounded by some other characters from the flick and a few random comic book heroes. A very short BatMan in flip-flops is checking his phone. An equally short Sheldon walks by waring a shirt with Stephen Hawking on the front.
As he nears the sidewalk unfortunate thing happens.
And it’s a pretty good representation of the character too. The guy actually has longish blond hair.
He also is carrying a equally good model of Thor’s hammer.
Just before Jake can reach the sidewalk Thor steps in and starts talking to the princess
Jake diverts his path a bit and ends up standing on the sidewalk, ten feet away. A half smile half scowl is on his face. He makes a motion with his hands, pretending to strangle the superhero that just swooped in on him.
I shout at him from across the street, “His hammer is bigger than your lightsaber!”
100% scowl on Jake’s face now.
I motion with my head down the street for us to keep walking. We have to make it to the House of Blues by 10:20.
“Damn Thor!” Jake says, laughing.
“Ha! We should have dressed up too.” I say. “But there is still hope.” I continue. “You have now transformed into Jake Sidewalker. Behold!”
“I hate you dude.” he says and gives me the same motion he gave Thor.
“Alright, alright.” I say.
We keep walking for a few more minuets and I wonder how many folk are here in San Diego this week. I wonder if my friend can survive another few hours in superhero heaven without going crazy.
While walking we weave in and out and in-between the crowd of TV characters and superheros come to live.
I pass another a few more Wonder Women, too many BatMan and the Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four. She really did look like Jessica Alba.
Not a bad time to be people watching in San Diego.
We make it to the venue and I break out my wallet to pay the cover. Just as I’m about to had a few bills to the bouncer I hear a shout from behind me.
Have other Free things to add to this list? Share ’em below.
Other Comic Con ideas or stories? We’d love to hear them.