Traveling to SDCC is something not a lot of first-time visitors think about (or budget for). There are a lot of ways you can get to San Diego, but your location and budget is going to factor into this a lot. Plan ahead and do your homework, and you’ll be in good shape to make it in a timely and cost-effective manner! Note: to make this less confusing, I’m going to use LA are our regional base of transportation for ground travel.
If you live somewhere far away (like Tennessee for example) you’re going to be primarily relying on air travel. Air travel to San Diego can get a little pricey (it’s a mid-sized airport with limited space), and you’ll more than likely see your flight have layovers if you are going cross-country. There are other regional airports (both larger and smaller) that may make your flight more affordable, but you may have to use other transportation means to get to San Diego.
My biggest suggestion is to utilize a variety of travel sites. If you have the time (and the patience) you can look through a variety of discount travel sites in addition to the airlines themselves. Many times, booking directly through a company will get you a better price than going through a secondary site. I frequently like to use Google Flights to do this, since they check directly with the airlines themselves, rather than the third party sites. They’ll allow a lot of customization like telling you ideal times to book, what days flights may be more affordable, what local airports may be more affordable, and you can even sign up for flight alerts!
Flights from LA to San Diego are extremely fast, usually under an hour, but you’ll also need to factor in an additional 2+ hours for security and luggage check-in and pick-up. The San Diego airport is located in downtown San Diego, and you can easily walk, take a cab, shuttle service, or a Lyft to your final destination.
If you’re already in the region (or want to take multiple transportation methods), one option for you might be to take the Amtrak. The Surfliner is a regional train service that runs through Southern California. Unlike planes, seats are first come, first serve on a train, so expect things to be pretty popular. Unlike planes, you don’t need to worry about all the fuss that accompanies a plane flight. I usually show up to the train station around 30 minutes before my departure time, walk to the platform and wait. Train services are very automated, so you usually already have your ticket in hand (either printed out at home or loaded up on your phone.) Like the airport though, please have your ticket ready. You will not only hold up the line to get on the train, but also the train’s departure time, as well. The Surfliner is air conditioned, usually very quiet, and offers fantastic views of the surrounding area. It’ll usually take you about 2.5 hours to get from LA to San Diego this way. Santa Fe Depot (the train station in downtown San Diego) is in the Gaslamp, meaning you’re even closer to the convention center and many of the downtown hotels. You can also easily walk, take a cab, shuttle service, or a Lyft to your final destination from here.
If you’re in the region (or even if you flew in) and planes and trains aren’t your thing, you’re in luck, you can always drive! Driving from LA down to San Diego direction-wise is as easy as hopping on the highway and driving south. With no traffic, it takes less than 2 hours to drive down to San Diego. With traffic (which there most certainly will be) you’ll be looking at a 3+ hour drive. Once you’re there, you’ll need a place to store your car, and most hotels will charge for parking. Now, while all of this sounds like a major bummer, there are some real perks to having a car in San Diego. By driving yourself, you can go directly to your hotel yourself, or make any pit stops you want along the way. There are some great scenic overlooks, museums, and other cool spots to stop, hang out, and even grab a bite to eat. Driving the PCH is a gorgeous option that adds on a bit of time, but can be much more relaxed than the highway. There are tons of fantastic restaurants and places to visit while you’re in San Diego that are much easier to get to with a car (especially if you need to go somewhere to cheer yourself up after not getting into a panel you waited in line for all night – it happens). Some areas of San Diego you can’t easily get to using the MTS, and taking a Lyft to get there can really add up. You can also leave the convention whenever you want, without having to leave at a specific, predetermined time, unlike using the plane or train.