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San Diego Downtown Rundown

The problem with the San Diego Comic-Con is that it’s almost all in one place, the Convention Center. But with a self-contained area like that, it’s difficult to see much of the city besides the immediate area -- the Gaslamp district -- an area defined by the trolley tracks, shaped like a pentagon similar to Superman’s logo.

What most people do is go up Fifth Avenue from the convention center to a shopping mall called the Horton Plaza, which has a whole bunch of stores, a food court, and a UA multiplex cinema, where some of the major film companies traditionally show preview screenings of their fall films.

So with that as one end, and the Convention center as the other, it’s possible to go to dozens of restaurants packed in a small area. The prices go from a couple of bucks from some of the places at the Horton food court, to expensive (but fun) places like the Strip Joint and Dick's Last Resort. Generally, for those who go to Comic-Con, it's mostly a crapshoot, up Fifth or Sixth Avenue and see who has room. You can go to a different place each night.

The main conundrum with San Diego and Comic-Con is that you can’t really see all that much of the city outside of the Gaslamp district because there’s so much to do at the Convention Center or at a number of receptions at the Omni, which is right next to Petco Stadium or the Raddison (1646 Front St), which is right next door to the Convention Center.

If you want to see the City and it’s surrounding area Comic-Con week is not the time to do it, which is a pity. San Diego has one of the best zoos in the world, and the beaches are terrific, but Comic-Con is expensive (I just saw some guy selling his four-day ticket for $350 on Craigslist), and there really isn’t time for anything else.

Finding a place to stay is difficult, and I don’t mean jumping in a car in Brentwood and driving down unannounced. The entire city is booked up from the day the Con opens to the day it closes. The hotel I’m staying at, The Super 8 (3275 Rosecrans St), graciously decided to raise its prices from $75 a night to $125 just for the Con. This doesn’t mean that the city isn’t very reasonable the week before and the week after, it most certainly is, even the swank and recently restored US Grant (326 Broadway) is affordable.

The best way to do the Con, like everything else, is to have someone pay for you, and that’s what most of the Hollywood types are doing, getting the major studios to fit the bill. The artists and people who are renting out booths generally get together with friends and pool their resources. A half a dozen people on the floor in a suite for about twenty dollars a night is actually rather reasonable.

Even more reasonably priced and more centrally located are a surprising number of Youth Hostels, the most famous of which, The USA Hostel (726 Fifth Avenue), about whom I could bitch forever (they violated my civil rights under the Unrah law a few years back, and a lawsuit ensued), is right on the main drag on Fifth Avenue, and catty corner from that is the official Hostelling International place (521 Market St), which doesn’t violate anything and is fairly decent at $25/night for a bed.

It's just a couple of blocks to the east of Lucky D’s 615 8th Avenue), and though it is a bit on the sleazy side (and I mean that in a good way), the place is nice, and friendly, which is why it’s been booked solid for this particular week since early spring. If you’re going to go next year, it’s best to get a reservation now.

Also, if you’re lucky enough to get into preview night, beware, the San Diego Padres have a home game, so downtown is going to be a madhouse.

USA Hostel (726 Fifth Avenue)
the  official Hostelling International place (521 Market St)
Lucky D’s (615 8th Avenue)

Raddison/Doubletree (1646 Front St)
The Super 8 (3275 Rosecrans St)
US Grant (326 Broadway)

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