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7 places to people-watch at Dragon Con (without a ticket)

Combine science fiction and gaming into a single super convention and what do you get? Dragon Con

»RELATED: How to survive Dragon Con 2018

The cosplay extravaganza, which takes places Aug. 30-Sept. 3, has been a long-standing staple of Atlanta (celebrating its 32nd year on Labor Day weekend), growing momentum ever since its first year in 1987. More than 82,000 people are expected to attend the weekend-long festivities that will include celebrity appearances from the likes of Peter Capaldi, Pom Klementieff, cosplay, gaming, workshops, and much more. 

For the undercover fans, fans unable to purchase passes or just fans of standing in awe of the costumes, you can still join the fun by hanging out in the area - you might just see your favorite character walking across downtown.

Here are 7 places to get the most out of cosplay-watching:

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Many celebs are involved with Dragon Con, including Lou Ferrigno here at 2009's parade. Ferrigno is in the house for 2018 as well. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Annual Dragon Con Parade

The parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 1. Peachtree St. and Linden Ave, Atlanta.

The Atlanta Dragon Con parade is a spectacle in itself; from the large crowd it draws in (one of the largest of the year) to the quirky floats and unusual costumes. People young and old and from near and far immerse in the city streets to celebrate all things sci-fi and strange. It feels as if for one long weekend, Atlanta is in a different realm. Be sure to arrive early and don't be afraid to dress-up and get some mileage out of that Halloween costume in the closet.

»RELATED: Dragon Con promises a “Stranger” Labor Day

The Hub at Peachtree Center

Mall at Peachtree Center, Atlanta. 404-654-1296.

Food courts aren't the most glamorous spots, but Peachtree Center is strategically located (direct access to Marta and the main hotels) and full of hungry Con-goers. This major transportation hub is the perfect place to grab a quick bite and to awe at hundreds of costumed fans.

Stan Lee served as Grand Marshal of the DragonCon parade on Sept. 2, 2017 in downtown Atlanta. Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC (Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Music Scene with Melissa Ruggieri)

Hard Rock Cafe

215 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-688-7625.

The Hard Rock is centrally located in the eclectic mix that will be on display Labor Day weekend. (The food's not too bad, either.) Try to grab a seat at the bar or, if you're lucky enough, a seat by the window. It's a rocking good time with the music and drinks in addition to people watching your favorite characters at the next table or out on Peachtree Street.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis

265 Peachtree Center Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-521-0000.

You need a pass to actually step inside this host hotel (the others include Hyatt Regency AtlantaHilton AtlantaWestin Peachtree, and Sheraton Atlanta). However, you'll be able to catch most of the cosplayers outside in full force as they shuffle to and from festivities. Feel free to ask for pictures - most cosplayers will proudly do so but don't take offense if you're told no, they are most likely in a hurry to make it to the next panel.

DRAGON CON PARADE--ATLANTA, GA: August 30, 2014 - A lady reacts to a dinosaur during the annual Dragon Con parade in downtown Atlanta. The parade featured 3200 Dragon Con fans dressed as their favorite characters from movies, television, comic books , literature and video games. An estimated 80,000 people watched the parade. Atlanta Journal - Constitution Special/ Johnny Crawford (Johnny Crawford/ Dragon Con)

Waffle House

112 Courtland St NE, Atlanta. 404-865-0321.

It’s less than a 10 minute walk (.4 miles) from the Marriott Marquis to this location of the south’s most famous restaurant chain. Out of the tens of thousands of mostly southerners coming and going how could hungry cosplayers resist? They can’t. And like all Waffle Houses, it’s 24-7, perfectly suited to the around-the-clock vibe of Dragon Con. Try the waffles.

Metro Cafe Diner

229 Peachtree St. Suite B-17, Atlanta. 404-577-1420.

The advantage of this diner is that like the WH, it's open 24 hours - perfect for the night owls who want to keep going after the Dragon Con party or for a hefty breakfast after a night of self-indulgence. Stop in for a fun time, good grub, and maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a stormtrooper singing karaoke.

Pittypat's Porch

25 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-525-8228.

This Southern restaurant is in the heart of Downtown Atlanta and offers more than just mint juleps and superb food. Pittypat's has second-story porch seating which allows for premium view of Dragon Con attendees all the while cooling off from above and away from the madness.

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