San Diego

No Badge? No Problem: Things to Do Outside San Diego Comic-Con Without a Ticket

From scavenger hunts to augmented reality experiences, and even a party or two, here are just a few ways to celebrate your fandom in San Diego without a ticket to the main event

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

What to Know

  • San Diego Comic-Con 2022 runs from Thursday, July 21 to Sunday, July 24, with some events starting as soon as Monday, July 18
  • While guests are required to have a badge to enter the San Diego Convention Center, where Comic-Con is held, there is so much to do, see, taste and experience just outside the doors in the Gaslamp Quarter
  • This year's events include: A fun-filled Interactive Zone, a chance to imbibe at a Star Trek Outpost bar, a Tim Burton-themed party, and a red carpet premiere of Prime Video's latest show

San Diego Comic-Con: a name that evokes glee in the die-hard comic fan and movie buff. But for even the casual observer, there's an excitement that comes as the streets of San Diego are overtaken by superheroes.

The world outside the San Diego Convention Center is a splendor all its own. The streets of the Gaslamp Quarter are filled with movie studios, production companies, comic publishers and more dolling out freebies to promote their latest creations. Bigger names take over buildings and parking lots with elaborate interactive experiences, events and photo-ops. Stores are filled with exclusive merchandise and restaurants get comic-themed makeovers with dishes made for the Hulk himself.

And the best part? Most of the fun does not require a Comic-Con badge.

Most of the experiences are open to anyone regardless of whether you have a ticket to the main event -- and there's no need to be a pop-culture expert to find something that excites you. Of course, may have to pay with time in line or money.  

Each year (minus those few pesky years COVID-19 canceled Comic-Con), NBC 7 puts together a guide of the top Comic-Con attractions that can be experienced outside the actual event. Here's what's in store this year:

NOTE: Some events may require proof of vaccination or masks in indoor spaces in order to attend. Please check COVID-19 protocols before you go.

Liberty Public Market Treasure Hunt Free!

Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Liberty Public Market
It's up to you: find the Infinity Stones and ... save the world? Not quite. The fate of humanity isn't really in your hands, but if you find an infinity stone, prizes are in your future. Liberty Public Market, the food hall located in the decommissioned Liberty Station military base, will give one prize to the person who first finds the stone each day of the week from July 18 to July 24. Just locate the stone and head to Bottlcraft to claim your winnings.

Enter the Spider-Verse at the Comic-Con Museum Family Friendly

Ongoing, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Comic-Con Museum, Balboa Park
The Comic-Con Museum has only been open a few short years but has already celebrated some pretty epic figures -- Batman, Pacman, Wonder Woman, and now, Spider-Man. Celebrate the 60th anniversary of our favorite web-slinger at the museum's latest exhibit, Beyond Amazing Spider-Man: The Exhibition. The experience takes guests through the history of one of pop culture's most iconic and recognized characters through a showcase of original artwork from the comics, props and costumes from the Spider-Man movies, interactive installations and more. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $18 for children and $24 for students, seniors and military members, and also includes access to the entire Comic-Con Museum.

Spider-Man will officially be inducted into the Comic-Con Museum Hall of Fame during the Night at the Comic-Con Museum event on July 20 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the event are a little pricier but if you're a Spider-Man superfan, the $250 price tag may be worth it.

Other events at the Comic-Con Museum
Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; Comic-Con Museum
The museum is, of course, ramping up the fun during SDCC with plenty of events for the entire family. Guests are invited to make their own comet (10 a.m. Thursday through Sunday), pick up the basics of coding with Girls who Code (11:15 a.m. Thursday through Sunday), learn to draw the Archie (3 p.m. Saturday) and take off with a screening of "The Rocketeer" (3 p.m. Friday). Some events do require admission to the museum, while others don't. Check out the full lineup of events here.

Comic-Con Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive

Wednesay through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (3:30 p.m. on Sunday); Coronado Ballroom, Manchester Grand Hyatt
Instead of watching the superheroes this Comic-Con, be a hero to someone in need by donating blood at this San Diego Blood Bank pop-up location. Appointments can be made in advance here but walk-ins are also welcome. Donors will receive a limited-edition Marvel "Thor: Love and Thunder" T-shirt, while supplies last.

Gaslamp Quarter businesses are getting in the spirit of Comic-Con with eye-catching advertisements. From animes to superheroes, large billboards are advertising the latest and greatest in pop culture for the occasion.

Star Trek Pop-Up Experience

Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; 340 Fifth Ave, Gaslamp Quarter
Tickets to this Final Frontier-themed pop-up experience sold out quickly, but there is still a chance to feel like part of the team at the Starfleet Outpost beer garden. Entry is first come, first served.

Petco Park Interactive Zone Must See!

Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; Lexus Premiere Lot
If you're looking to experience an overwhelming amount of Comic-Con in one space, you don't want to miss the Interactive Zone. Several studios bring small pop-up experiences to what is usually the Lexus Premier Lot on 11th Avenue. It's also the spot to find some fabulous San Diego food trucks.

Here is just a sampling of what you'll find in the Interactive Zone:

  • Star Trek: On Saturday, look out for Coolhaus ice cream truck, which is bringing a special "Wrath of P'Khan" anniversary ice cream to the Starfleet Outpost (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • CBS's "Ghosts:" Join Pinecone Trooper Pete's "Friend Zone," a campsite and archery-themed experience where nothing is what it seems.
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Truck: Possibly the sweetest stop at the Interactive Zone is this Sanrio-themed food truck filled with a variety of desserts and cutesy collectibles available exclusively at the truck. Check out what you can find here.
  • Nintendo Switch: Check out the newest member of the Nintendo Switch family, play demos of the latest games and more at the Nintendo Switch Road Trip stop at SDCC. The event is first come, first served but reservations are recommended when they become available on July 15 at 10 a.m.

Beer Garden by the Bay

Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; The Rady Shell
San Diego's newest open-air concert venue, The Rady Shell, is just steps from the San Diego Convention Center, so it's only fitting they take part in the festivities this year. When you're ready for a break from all the walking, head over to The Shell (You can't miss it; it's the big dome thing behind the Convention Center) for a beer. You'll find music, food and beverages for sale from 5 to 10 p.m.

The Audible Beach Free!

Thursday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (6 p.m. Sunday); MLK Jr. Promenade
Take a rest on the beach just outside the San Diego Convention Center. No, not the one you're thinking of... The Audible Beach. The audiobook streaming service is bringing some of their originals, "Impact Winter," "The Sandman" and "Moriarty: The Devil’s Game" to the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in between the Gaslamp Quarter and the Convention Center. Relax in the sand as you check out the huge sand-carved sculptures based on characters from the audiobooks.

Peanuts Pop-Up

Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 200 J Street, Suite 105 (Gaslamp)
Franklin is getting his time to shine this year, so is the man who inspired Franklin’s last name, cartoonist Robb Armstronga longtime friend of Charles Schulz. Armstrong appears in a five-minute video that explains how Schulz came to introduce Peanuts' first Black character in the months following Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination. There will also be an exhibition of all things Franklin and merchandise for Peanuts fans.

Peanuts is highlighting its work with The Armstrong Project, which works to support up-and-coming Black animators in a field where there are less than 4%, according to 2019 data. Two events will be held at the pop-up, a Q&A with Armstrong on Thursday at 7 p.m. and a panel on iconic Black comic characters with Armstrong and others on Friday at 7 p.m.

Her Universe Fashion Show 2022 Free!

Thursday, 6 p.m., Manchester Grand Hyatt
Some might say pop culture fandom and fashion can't go hand and hand, but actress and Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein is here to tell you that it absolutely does.The Her Universe Fashion show has become an annual tradition for both professional and amateur designers who dazzle the runway with pieces flaunting their fandom. This year, the event will be co-hosted by drag icon Nina West. TWO winners will be selected this year to join Eckstein in creating a new collection for Hot Topic. Fashion and pop-culture fans line up for hours for this free fashion show in the Harbor Ballroom of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, which may even include a celebrity sighting or two. Seating is first come, first served and the line opens at 1 p.m. 

NBCU Corner @ SDCC

Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; Tin Fish (170 Sixth Ave)
NBC Universal couldn't pick just one. This year, the team is bringing a fleet of shows to their usual corner right in front of the Gaslamp Quarter sign, including the NBC 7 team themselves. Catch some of your favorite shows -- NBC’s “Quantum Leap” and “La Brea,” USA Network and SYFY’s “Chucky,” and Peacock’s “Vampire Academy,” “The End is Nye” and “The Resort.” and so much more next to Tin Fish from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Shop in the Gaslamp

Everyday, Shop times vary; Gaslamp Quarter
While Comic-Con-goers spend hundreds on a ticket to shop for exclusive merchandise, comics and other collectibles inside the Convention Center, there is a world of geekdom shopping opportunities in the Gaslamp. Pick up an RPG at Bards & Cards Game Shop (Fifth Avenue) or discover a new comic series at Now or Never Comics (F Street). Shop pop-culture apparel at Bait or get some nostalgia and find some unique collectibles at Super7 (Eighth Avenue). And, you're bound to discover a pop-up shop or two as you walk through the Gaslamp.

Comic-Con-Themed Movies on the Rooftop

Thursday, times vary; Rooftop Cinema Club, Manchester Grand Hyatt
Take in some high-flying action AND a view at San Diego's rooftop theater, the Rooftop Cinema Club. The venue on an outdoor rooftop of the Manchester Grand Hyatt is just blocks from the Comic-Con action at the San Diego Convention Center. Take your pick of three super-hero-sized showings: "Guardians of the Galaxy" at 4 p.m., "Spider-Man: No Way Home" at 7:45 p.m. and "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" at 11 p.m. Grab your headphones, some movie snacks and maybe a cocktail from the Rooftop's full bar before you make your way to a lounge chair. Don't forget to stop to take in the sweeping view of the San Diego Bay before the show starts.

SDCC Art Show Free!

Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; Manchester Grand Hyatt
You don't need a pass to the main event to see some incredible artwork that is at the center of comic fandom. Talented artists enter original drawings, paintings, sculptures and more into this annual show at the Manchester Grand hotel. Books and comics nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are also on display. The art hall is open on the lobby level from 9 a.m. daily to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Events at the San Diego Public Library Family Friendly

Days vary; Locations vary
The San Diego Public Library understands how important comics can be to literacy, so they go all out to celebrate the medium during SDCC. Several San Diego branch libraries (locations vary) are hosting their own Comic-Con-themed events from hands-on drawing lessons to hero-inspired story times. The San Diego Central Library in downtown will even have a cosplay repair station for Comic-Con-goers who damage their supersuits. See the full lineup of events here. Attendees will even receive a Comic-Con exclusive library card, designed by Tijuana-based artist Charles Glaubitz. The card will be released at all Public Library locations on Thursday, July 21. The cards are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Legion M Celebrates William Shatner

Thursday, Times vary; Theatre Box San Diego
Scotty is beaming Capt. Kirk to San Diego, it seems. The legendary William Shatner is being honored by Legion M at a host of events at the Theatre Box San Diego on Thursday. Be there as he imprints his hands at the Theatre Box, Chinese Theatre-style. Or, attend and authograph session and get to meet the icon yourself. In the evening, join Shatner at a rooftop afterparty from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are available to guests but come with a cost from $100 to $240, depending on how close you want to get to Starfleet captain.

w00t X

Thursday, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Stone Brewing Kettner
It's been a decade since Stone founder Greg Kock, creator Drew Curtis and actor Wil Wheaton combined forces to bring an almighty beer to the Comic-Con crowds -- and they have no intention of stopping now. With the purchase of an $85 ticket, guests will get to experience the 10th iteration of w00tstout -- plus several past iterations -- in the form of 15 3oz tasters, a special w00stout glass and tasty bites at this annual event.

In just a few weeks, downtown San Diego will be buzzing with anime and pop culture fans flocking to Comic-Con. Ahead of the highly anticipated event, NBC 7’s Audra Stafford shares what local businesses are doing to prepare for the influx of tourists.

The Bob's Burgers Movie Free!

Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; On 6th Avenue Near the Omni Hotel
You'll want to come with an appetite to the Bob's Burgers Movie activation in the grassy area just outside the Omni Hotel. There, the team will be dishing out burgers on a first come, first serve basis from 3 to 6 p.m. Even if you don't make it for the burgers, there will be plenty of photo-ops and games throughout the day.

Mooby's Comes to the Galsamp

Thursday through Sunday, Times vary; Tin Roof
You may see Jay and Silent Bob hanging outside Mooby's this Comic-Con. Kevin Smith and team is bringing the fast-food join from movies like "Clerks II," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and more to the Tin Roof for a deep dive into the View Askewniverse. Mooby's is open to the public for merch opportunities but if you'd like to dine at the fine establishment, that will require a $30 ticket, which comes with a "Moo main" and "Salt Lick Side." After 6 p.m., Mooby's will also be the site for Kevin Smith's many events, including podcast recordings which are sold out.

At night, Mooby's transforms into Mooby's After Dark with cosplay karaoke, 90s live music more. No ticket is needed for these events but they are first come, first served. Times vary by day.

Club 90s Presents Stranger Things Night 18+

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.; House of Blues San Diego
Ready to enter the upside down ('round and 'round)? Tickets to this 18-and-up is 90s-themed party at the House of Blues start at $18. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show goes on at 9 p.m.

Major Lazer Sound System: Comic-Con Weekend Nightlife

Thursday, 9:30 p.m.; Bloom Nightclub
If you're really looking for an after party, this is the place to be. Major Lazer is taking over Bloom Nightclub and is bringing a few of his friends -- Diplo, Ape Drums and Walshy Fire. Tickets to the event start at $50.

Prime Video's 'Paper Girls' Premiere

Friday, 7 p.m.; Rooftop Cinema Club, Manchester Grand Hyatt

courtesy of Prime Video

Amazon Prime is rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the premiere of its new streaming series "Paper Girls." Fans are invited to join the cast and creators as they premiere the first three episodes of the sci-fi adventure series at the Rooftop Cinema Club. The series is based on the graphic novels of the same name and follows the journey of four paper girls whose lives are altered by time-travelers. The Comic-Con event will include ‘80s-themed food and beverages, exclusive poster giveaways, and special photo moments, according to Prime Video. The screening is first come, first served but fans can try to reserve a spot by signing up here. Proof of vaccination is required.

5th Annual Fandom Party Nightlife

Friday, 7 p.m., Float at the Hard Rock Hotel
One of the San Diego Comic-Con after parties is right across the street from the Convention Center and the Hard Rock Hotel's Float pool. The event, headlined this year by Don Diablo, is hosted by Fandom, which is a platform for -- you guessed it -- pop culture fans. And while it's usually attended by celebrities and industry insiders, Fandom stays true to its people by offering a select number of fan tickets. Tickets became available on July 13 and sold out within minutes. But keep an eye out on Fandom's Twitter in case of other opportunities.

The Walking Dead Fan Celebration

Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Hilton Gaslamp Hotel
To celebrate their final season of the series, The Walking Dead is pulling out all the stops for their ticketed, off-site event, which promises exclusive experiences, a look at set pieces and props from all 11 seasons, freebies, including a custom t-shirt, and photo and video opportunities. The event will be ticketed, and details have not yet been released. Keep an eye on the AMC and The Walking Dead's Twitter pages.

Funko Fundays

Friday, Time and location not released
Funko has made quite a name for themselves in the world of collectibles and one of the most popular events for fans of the vinyl figures is Funko Fundays, which happens every year during Comic-Con outside the convention doors. A ticket to the event costs $150 but Funko promises fun contests, exclusive giveaways and special guests during the event.

The Burton Bash Nightlife

Friday, 8 p.m., The Sugar Factory
The Burtonverse is coming to life -- or should we say death -- at this party for the undead. Guests can expect an experience straight out of "Beetlejuice" or "Sweeny Todd" at this themed party, which will have music from Tim Burton's movies, food and drink themed to his characters, and undoubtedly fans dolled up in Burtonesque attire. A $50 ticket gets you entry into this whimsical-world-gone-dark.

Sea Monsters at the Maritime Museum Kid Friendly

Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Maritime Museum San Diego
Mateys, take heed. There is something a-fish on this sailing ship. A sea monster has taken over the Star of India for San Diego Comic-Con. Inside, guests can explore the interactive "Sea Monsters: Delving into the Deep Myth" exhibit where they will take a journey through a professors work investigating the existince of sea creatures. The exhibit opened July 9.

Sea Monster Saloon

Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Maritime Museum San Diego
For the 21-and-up pirate, the Maritime Museum San Diego invites you to imbibe aboard the legendary Star of India. A $50 ticket ($40 for members) includes a Mai Tai cocktail in a collectible cup, appetizers and deserts and a chance to hear San Diego blues and rock trio, Fish & the Seaweeds.

Doctor Strange Free!

Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; On 6th Avenue Near the Omni Hotel
Pizza Poppa always gets paid, but he also may get a pop! Come play "Pop-a-Poppa" at the Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness activation. Guests will have a chance to win prizes and take photos in the multiverse.

Casa Mexico Does Comic-Con

Thursday through Sunday; Seaport Village
Join a celebration of Hispanic culture at Casa Mexico in Seaport Village. Throughout the convention, Casa Mexico will host events from Lucha Libre wrestling to exhibits featuring Mexican cartoonist Trino and, of course, dancing and live music.

FX at Comic-Con

A look at the FXSDCC activation

Thursday through Sunday, Times Vary; Hilton Bayfront lawn
Get lost in a labyrinth of spookiness at #FXSDCC. The large activation on the lawn outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront will feature several of the television channel's original content. Go to "hottest new club "Nadja's" from the upcoming season of "What We Do in the Shadows." Or take a stroll (or run) through "American Horror Story's" Garden of the Dolls. Or, visit the den and you may be taken to the underworld for the newest animated comedy "Little Demon." The activation is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. There will be a special screening event at 8 p.m. on Friday for a first look at Little Demon and the latest episode of What We do in the Shadows. Register for that event here.

We will continue to update this list as Comic-Con approaches. If you have an event you'd like to be considered, please email

Contact Us