Comic-Con without a Badge

Geek Fun, San Diego Comic Con, SDCC Tips/Info

I thought this year was going to suck since I was unable to secure a four-day badge with preview night. I was beyond bummed that I’d have to hang back on Saturday, probably in the hotel room, alone with nothing to do. I even considered returning the other badges I had and not go at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was well past the date of getting a refund I probably would have done so.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

Turns out, you don’t need a badge to actually enjoy Comic-Con. Yes, I said that. YOU DO NOT NEED A BADGE TO HAVE A GOOD TIME AT COMIC-CON.

There are so many things going on outside the San Diego Convention Center that you could have a blast in San Diego and not even set foot in SDCC. Some are direct tie-ins to Comic-Con while others are things that make San Diego, well San Diego. I’ll talk in this post about the Comic-Con related things to do:

First and foremost, I really hope that Zachary Levi comes back next year with Nerd HQ. Such an awesome idea and it was great chance to hang out with nerds of all types. Here’s a brief description from the Nerd Machine website:

The Nerd Machine is taking over the Gaslamp District and transforming Jolt’N Joe’s restaurant into the center of the Nerdiverse. Jolt’N Joe’s 379 4th Ave. San Diego, CA 92101-6901

In partnership with, Xbox, and Gunnar Optiks, the Nerd HQ is the destination for a unique and more intimate, personal experience. The Nerd HQ is rallying the nerd army so they can share in all the gaming, technology, and entertainment we all love. And oh yea, there is no admission cost, everybody is welcome to enjoy. The Nerd HQ is an all ages event where you all nerds are welcome. However, at 8pm, local laws require us to raise the age limit to 21 and over.

In addition to all that, Nerd HQ also did “Conversations for a Cause” with some of everyone’s favorite nerds, including Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes and the cast/crew from Psych. Tickets to the event were limited assigned seating (150-200) and cost $20 a piece. Proceeds from the ticket sales went to Operation Smile.

Barb and I attended the conversation with Psych and it was so worth the money. We somehow scored seats in the second row, center and could tell there wasn’t a bad seat in the place. We had a great time in the intimate setting and it made me wish I would have purchased some of the other conversations that were offered.

The Michael Ausiello party was also held at Jolt’n Joes on Thursday night. The only thing you had to do to gain access to the party was be one of the first 100 to RSVP to an email address that Michael tweeted about a week before Comic-Con. No badge required! Very cool to come hang out with open bar and meet some celebs!

Conan O’Brien took over a local art exhibit with artwork from fans for his super-hero alter-ego, the Flaming C. It didn’t cost anything to get into the exhibit; however there was a line down the block. There were several works of art to checkout and even one that had fans partaking in a color-by-number oil drawing. One of my favorite was the balloon-animal-esque depiction that they had dangling from the ceiling. Those who got to go in also had the opportunity to dress up as superheroes themselves. I know they gave away a small poster outside and once inside you could also claim souvenirs from buttons to t-shirts to capes. Very cool relaxed experience and since there was crowd control, there were not a lot of people crowding the space.

We also had the opportunity to check out South Park Village. As a huge fan of South Park, I was upset with myself when we went (I had fallen and was afraid I broke my sister’s expensive camera and was mentally beating myself up over it. I just couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the experience). However it was still awesome. Complete with a replica of one of South Park’s streets, cutouts of Chef and Mrs. Garrison, there was plenty to do! You could have your picture taken on the couch with the boys, partake in South Park karaoke, and chow down on some food from the neighboring food trucks. Totally cool way to kick off Season 15, the Year of the Fan and I hope they considering doing something like this again!

There were a few events and happenings that we didn’t attend, including the Sega Arcade, the Marvel Monsterggedon (promo event for a Monster Truck show next year during Comic-Con, and the Sprint and Alienware gaming zones, but all of these didn’t require that you actually attended Comic-Con. I’m sure there are some I even missed mentioning!

Besides all this, there were daily parades, movie premieres (we were among some of the first to see Captain America: The First Avenger), the Zombie Walk (which we just didn’t have time to participate in this year), themed restaurants (Café Diem I’m looking at you!) and tons of swag just handed out on the street!

You could definitely make a weekend out of the events that didn’t happen in the actual convention center. I have to admit, it was a nice alternative to feeling like I had to be at the convention center all the time. I don’t feel like I missed anything by not being there every day.


  • I completely agree. I was bummed about not having a Saturday pass too. But, I spent the majority of the day in Gaslamp getting tons for freebies and doing a little bar hopping. I would definitely do that again if I didn’t have a pass. I hope they continue to have this type of exposure in the Gaslamp area. It was a lot of fun.

  • Sometimes it seems like th ebst stuff is outside the convention center, including the freebies, the celeb encounters, and of course, the food. I hope everyhting worked out with your sisters camera!

  • I also agree! I had a 4 day pass this year but all the really amazing things that happened were off site! Nerd HQ was amazing! The greatest experince of entire weekend! Also, great parties and events! There were some interesting panels at convention center, but most of my memories of being at convention center were of being in line or being pushed or told to walk faster. Honestly, next year, I may not even bother getting a badge, or at the very least not worry about it if Im not able to get one. 🙂

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