The Q is not exactly the most pristine stadium, but to be fair, it IS over 40 years old. The aisles and seats may be a bit tight if you don't have club seats, bathroom lines will be long, and concourses will be hard to navigate through especially during halftime, but at least you'll never experience a game in weather like that of say, a New England home game. Another plus - since it's a smaller stadium, sightlines are pretty great from any seat.
Food and Drink:
The best variety of food is no doubt found on the Plaza Level, which is the level you enter when you walk through the gates.
There are 2 restaurants - Murphy's on the Plaza Level near Gate F which is more of a sports bar, and The Endzone Club on the Loge Level near Section 21. Both of these are open to the public.
There are a few decent concessions scattered about - we like Tortilla Junction (one on Plaza and one on Loge levels) as well as Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ (Plaza Sec 20) - one of our barbecue joints. California pizza franchise Oggi's has a few stands scattered throughout too. Gluten-Free foods can be found at a cart on the Plaza Level, Sec 10, and Veggie Burgers are offered at Flip Side Grill stands. Check the map for specific locations.
New to 2011 is a food truck area on the Field Level near gate L. There are plenty of great options here (even for vegetarians), and we definitely recommend stopping by if you can make your way through the crowd. During halftime, there will be a live band playing in this area as well.
Yes, the beer will be expensive - around $9 for a domestic draft, but that's just the way it is at sports stadiums. On the Field Level near any of the Gate entrances, is where you will find the best variety of beer. First and Goal near Gate C has beer on tap like Shock Top, Stella, and Bass, and there's a couple Craft on Draftstands also on the Field Level if you want a brew with a little more flavor. The Red Zone on the Loge has a full bar and you can find wine at a few places like Bud Brew House (one on Loge and one on View Levels) Just a head's up: No alcohol will be served in the 4th quarter. Alcohol is also not allowed in View Level Sections 54-58, Rows 5-26 as it's the designated Family Section.
Rumor has it that after the game the concessions stands do fire sales at some exits where everything is $1 until they sell out, so keep an eye out if you're still hungry post-game.
Small and intimate. Not a bad seat in the house. Bring cash! Credit cards limited.
The Stadium and Neighborhood:
Qualcomm Stadium opened in 1967 and is the only stadium to have hosted both the Super Bowl and World Series in the same year (1998). Located in San Diego's Mission Valley neighborhood a few miles north of downtown, it's right at the junction of the I-15 and I-8 highways, making it easily accessible by car. Since Mission Valley is basically also the center of town, it's also easily accesible by public transportation. San Diego State University is nearby, and the Aztecs play at Qualcomm as well.
There are plenty of places to choose from in the surrounding area if you want to grab a meal or drink outside of Qualcomm. Yes, some of our recommendations will be hard to get to on foot especially if they are on the other side of one of the freeways - so take caution if you're walking. It's really not a very pedestrian friendly area. A lot of restaurants are not far from stops along the trolley, so that might be an easier option, although many of them will really only be accesible by car. The Westfield Shopping Center has a few places like Seau's the Restaurant among others and is not far from the Mission Valley Center trolley stop. Check our "Before and After the Game" section for more info on this and other suggestions.
On the Green Line Trolley there's a major terminal right at Qualcomm in Section J of the parking lot and just steps away from Gate K. For highly attended events at the stadium, the Trolley adds additional service. Some of the trolleys may be crowded so allow for some extra time. You can purchase a Regional Day Pass (only $5) at a ticket kiosk or vending machine before the game to avoid lines after. We would recommend taking the trolley over driving directly to the stadium. For more detailed info on schedules and stops: http://www.sdmts.com/Trolley/Chargers.asp
Driving and Parking:
There are over 19,000 spaces at the stadium but the lots have been known to fill up before the start of a game. If the lots are closed by the time you arrive, you could always drive to one of the Mission Valley Park and Ride trolleys stops and then ride the trolley in. (The Grantville stop to the east on Alvarado Canyon Rd or Hazard Center to the west off Mission Center Rd are probably the closest. Check our "Before & After the Game map for their parking icons)
General parking in the outer ring lots is $25. Inner ring parking is $45-75. For convenience, below is a list of lots and what seat sections they are closest to.
Lot Area 1 - Seating section 1-16 (Going West on San Diego Mission Rd, it's on the Left)
Lot Area 2 - Seating section 36-61 (East on Friars Rd, it's on the Right)
Lot Area 3 - Seating section 24-44 (East on Friars Rd, it's on the Right)
Lot Area 4 - Seating section 8-24 (Going W\est on Friars Rd, it's on the far left)
Traffic will be awful getting in, and even worse getting out. This stadium truly is one of the worst we've seen in terms of congestion.
The tailgating scene is huge and allowed in basically all stadium parking lot areas. Bud Light Power Party is smack in the middle of the lots near parking area F3 and is a great spot to hit up if you want to sit and watch other games before kickoff.There's a huge tent, several TVs, a bar, a few food trucks, and it's free to enter. So basically, it has it all.
Be sure to also read our Fanzooloo Faves section in the "During the Game" section for recommendations once inside the stadium!