Location: Mission Valley (7 Miles / 15 Minutes Northeast of Downtown San Diego)
NFL Football: Fall Sundays at 1:25PM:
College Football: Saturday, August 30; Time TBD: Northern Arizona vs. San Diego State University
Features: Learn what to expect, see, and do in and around Qualcomm Stadium San Diego.
How to get to Qualcomm Stadium
Qualcomm Stadium is in a suburban community of San Diego called Mission Valley. It’s address is 9449 Friars Road in San Diego, CA 92108.
Driving to Qualcomm Stadium
The highways leading into Mission Valley are I-8, I-15, and SR-163. They all lead guests to Friars Road, the main street that accesses the stadium. The stadium is surrounded by large parking lots, which opens 4 hours prior to game time for tailgating. Considering the stadium is surrounded on two sides by highways (I-8 and I-15) and on a third side by a shopping center, getting in and out of the stadium by car takes patience. Parking costs $20 for Bowl Games and $25 for NFL games. You can read more about Qualcomm Stadium parking rates and Qualcomm Stadium FAQs from the City of San Diego website.
Taking transit to Qualcomm Stadium
The San Diego Trolley is a clean and efficient trolley system run by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). There are three trolley lines (Blue, Orange, and Green). The Green Line connects Qualcomm Stadium to popular tourist locations to the west and south, including Old Town, Little Italy, Santa Fe Train Station in downtown San Diego (AMTRAK trains, regional Coaster trains, and the meeting spot for my San Diego tours), San Diego Convention Center, and the Gaslamp Quarter. It is less than a 30 minute ride from the farthest point (Gaslamp Quarter) to Qualcomm Stadium. One-way fare is $2.50. Many people will buy a Day Pass for $5. To buy a Day Pass, you will need a Compass Card, which you can purchase at a ticket machine for $2 to load the Day Pass onto the Compass Card. Going in the other direction (east), the Green Line goes to San Diego State University and the inland cities of El Cajon and Santee.
Going to Qualcomm Stadium by transit is busy, but not crazy busy. However, leaving after the game is crazy busy but MTS will have several trolley trains with extra trolley cars ready to take visitors out of the area. The trolley station is a short walk (less than 200 feet) from the stadium. You can download the trolley schedule and details from MTS.
Hotels near Qualcomm Stadium
Mission Valley There are hotels in Mission Valley within a couple miles of the stadium. None are within walking distance of the stadium and most of the hotels are not easy to walk to from nearby Green Line trolley stops. The one exception is the Doubletree Hotel, across the street from the Hazard Center station (4th trolley stop west of the stadium). Thus, I recommend you have a car if you want to stay at a hotel in Mission Valley. The area is full of shopping centers and restaurants, including the high-end Fashion Valley Mall.
Other hotel areas near Qualcomm Stadium are also areas popular among tourists. These are areas just a few miles west heading towards the ocean and then south heading into downtown San Diego. There is easy freeway access to these areas. Most of these areas are also connected by the Green Trolley Line allowing visitors to avoid renting a car and still have the ability to readily get around San Diego. Notable hotel areas near Qualcomm Stadium are listed below with the areas closest listed first. A brief description description of each area is provided to help you decide where you may want to stay in San Diego.
Hotel Circle A one mile stretch of hotels located 3 to 4 miles west of Qualcomm Stadium known as Hotel Circle runs along I-8, west of SR-163. Hotel Circle North runs along the north side of I-8 and Hotel Circle South runs along the south side of I-8. Most of the hotels and motels offer free parking. A few have restaurants. Hotel Circle is bordered by Old Town to the west and Fashion Valley Mall to the east. Old Town and Fashion Valley have many restaurants to choose from and each has a trolley stop on the Green Line. MTS Bus #88 runs past these hotels going back and forth between the Old Town and Fashion Valley trolley stations. It takes about a 5 minute walk to reach the restaurants near each trolley station.
Old Town is popular for its many Mexican restaurants surrounding the Old Town State Historic Park. This is the original San Diego established not too long after the Spanish established a mission on the hillside above Old Town in 1769. This is a popular tourist area with a lot of people milling about during the day and evenings. It is also a transit hub for MTS Trolleys and Buses. Most of the hotels are just a few blocks away offering a quieter environment but easy walk to all of the activity.
Little Italy used to be home to the 2nd largest Italian community in the United States. Many Italians were involved in the tuna industry during its heyday in San Diego. Some of their descendants have remained to create a tight-knit community with many traditional Italian events, a popular Saturday morning farmer’s market, and many great Italian restaurants. It’s fairly active during the day and generally busy during the evenings. Most of the hotels in and around Little Italy are smaller boutique type hotels.
Downtown San Diego / Convention Center / Gaslamp Quarter
Downtown San Diego is the main area for both convention and tourist hotels. To give you an idea of its scope, from Little Italy just to the north of this area and heading south to the Gaslamp Quarter, it is about a 35 minute walk or 15 minute trolley ride. Many of the hotels are along Broadway, Pacific Highway, Harbor Drive, and in the Gaslamp Quarter. They all have easy access to the MTS Trolley and Buses, restaurants, and harbor attractions. The area running along the harbor is busy during they day but quiet in the evenings. The Gaslamp Quarter is the opposite in that it is relatively quiet during the day but busy with nightlife during the evenings.
Restaurants and Bars near Qualcomm Stadium
I wouldn’t plan on walking to or from any bars and restaurants near the stadium before and after a game. However, you could technically walk to a few places if you are willing to dodge the cars coming in and out of the stadium parking lot.
McGregor’s Grill & Alehouse – This is not only the closest sports bar to Qualcomm Stadium but it was rated the top sports bar in San Diego for 2013 and is a place I enjoy going to as a sports fan. They’ve got good food, lots of TVs, pool tables and even a shuffle board. It’s in a small strip mall just three-quarters of a mile east of the stadium. Take the small side street at the northwest corner of the stadium parking lot called San Diego Mission Road and drive or walk on the sidewalk to Rancho Mission Road where you will find McGregor’s on the right side.
Fenton Marketplace – This shopping center borders the west side of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot. It offers several restaurants. My favorite would be Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Company, a small chain of sports bars in the San Diego area. You can see all of the restaurants available on the Fenton Marketplace Google+ page. Don’t plan on walking here because you would have to walk across several lanes of traffic entering and exiting the stadium parking lot. It would be easier to take the trolley one stop to the west to the Fenton Parkway station.
Westfield Mission Valley Mall – There are two large sports bars in this shopping center 2 miles west of the stadium, just off I-8 at the Mission Center Road exit. Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery is known for its scantily clad waitresses, large bar area, walls of TVs surrounding the large seating area, and a small outdoor patio. In the same shopping center is Buffalo Wild Wings, which took up the space of the former Seau’s Restaurant, which was owned by the late San Diego Charger favorite, Junior Seau.
Things to do in San Diego
When you come to San Diego for a football game, soccer game, or other special event at Qualcomm Stadium, there are lots of San Diego attractions very close by for you to enjoy. Our San Diego Airport is located adjacent to downtown San Diego and our harbor, making it very easy to settle in quickly at your hotel and enjoy time taking advantage of the many things to do in San Diego before and after the game. This San Diego travel web site provides the details on over 250 San Diego attractions organized by area and topic. For example, as a sports fan, you might be interested in visiting the largest sports museum in the country at Balboa Park, which is a park full of museums adjacent to the San Diego Zoo.
Another benefit during football season in particular is taking advantage of San Diego’s great weather. Imagine enjoying a warm day in San Diego, watching paragliders flying off 300 foot ocean cliffs, visiting the Torrey Pines Golf Course, home to the 2008 U.S. Open and annual Farmer’s Insurance Open or walking along the beach in La Jolla Cove, where you’ll get to see sea lions, seals, and on occasion dolphins and whales. These are all things guests get to enjoy on my Coastal San Diego Tour to La Jolla and Torrey Pines. Come join me for an afternoon bus and walking tour. Tours start at the Santa Fe Train station in downtown San Diego. For guests going to the Poinsettia Bowl and Holiday Bowls, you can be dropped off at the Old Town Trolley station shortly before 5PM for the 15 minute trolley ride to Qualcomm Stadium.
For those attending the Holiday Bowl, you can check out the Big Bay Balloon Parade from 10am-11:30am just two blocks away from the meeting point of the tour outside the Santa Fe Train Station. Guests meet at 11:45am to join the tour.