After Hours

10 geek travel destinations

If you like travel, these ten destinations offer geek-centric fun. Share your own favorite places.

Comic Con 2012
 Credit: PatLoika via Flickr

Although I am probably best known for the work that I have done in the IT industry, my biggest passion in life is travel. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled all over the world and even have my own travel blog at

1: San Diego

There is no way that I could write a list like this and not start off by talking about San Diego, California. San Diego is home to the annual Comic-Con convention.

I have to confess that Comic-Con isn't really my thing so I have never actually attended Comic-Con. Even so, I have been to San Diego while it was going on. The experience was like no other. In the evenings the streets around the Seaport Village area were filled with people in costume dressed like Zombies, superheroes, and various sci-fi characters. It was really something cool to see. It was kind of like Halloween, except that everyone seemed much more passionate about their costumes.

2: Islands of Adventure

Another destination for comic book geeks is Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. Again, comic books aren't my thing, but my wife is a big comic book geek. As such, I asked her to join me at Islands of Adventure last year for Microsoft's TechEd attendee party.

Although most of the people in attendance seemed to flock to the Harry Potter ride (which was admittedly very cool), my wife's favorite part seemed to be walking around the park looking for super heroes such as Spiderman or Captain America. My favorite attraction was the Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

3: Kennedy Space Center

If you ask any of my friends or family they will all tell you that I am a HUGE space geek. I actually tried to become an astronaut, but things didn't work out for various reasons (if anybody reading this can make that happen, please contact me).

Given my passion for the American space program, I just had to include the Kennedy Space Center on my list of geek travel destinations. The main visitor center complex is admittedly a bit dated. However, there is a brand new exhibit featuring the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The Saturn V Center is also well worth checking out. For an extra cost you can even take tours of the Vehicle Assembly Building, the launch pads, or mission control.

4: London

London should also rank highly on the must visit list for geeks. It's one of those places that I never get tired of visiting. Pop culture geeks are sure to appreciate that numerous movies and TV shows have been filmed in London and the surrounding areas (such as Dr. Who and Harry Potter).

turing_machine.jpg
 Credit: Nick Heath
For science and technology geeks the London Science Museum is a must-visit (entry is free but charges may apply to IMAX movies and special exhibits). In addition to the Turing exhibit, I enjoyed the Exploring Space exhibit and interactive gallery. There was also an exhibit called "Making the Modern World," which illustrated the progression of technological innovation from 1750 to 2000. For more on Turing and codebreaking history, you can also visit Bletchley Park.

London is also home to the Nine Worlds Geekfest, which is a multi-genre sci-fi convention. The event is set to take place again from August 8-10, 2014.

History geeks should be sure to check out the British Museum. The British Museum contains a vast collection of historical artifacts, including the Rosetta Stone. Admission to the British Museum is free.

5: Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC is actually made up of a number of different museums, most of which are all located along the National Mall.

I personally enjoy visiting the National Air and Space Museum (including the Udar Hazy Center which is adjacent to Washington Dulles airport). However, there are plenty of other things in the museum's collection that might appeal to geeks.

If you are into pop culture then you can check out Indiana Jones' hat or an original Kermit the Frog. Those who are into science and technology might enjoy seeing Albert Einstein's pipe or the Edison light bulb.

6: Panama

I will be the first to admit that Panama probably isn't the first place that comes to mind with regard to geek travel. Even so, I just had to include it because transiting the Panama Canal is an experience like no other.

The technology used to make the canal work is fascinating, even if it is old school. Huge ships pass through the canal's locks with only a foot or two of clearance. Railroad cars are used to guide the ships through the lock chambers. The entire process has to be orchestrated perfectly.

The most amazing thing is that the Panama Canal locks work without using electric pumps. The entire operation is made possible by gravity and rain water (from Lake Gatun).

7: San Francisco

San Francisco should definitely go onto the must visit list for both sci-Fi and technology geeks. One attraction that is not to be missed is the life size Yoda fountain at the Lucasfilm headquarters. Some Star Wars fans have reportedly been able to beg and plead with security for a look at the lobby which features a life size Darth Vader, Boba Fett, light sabers, etc.

San Francisco is also located in very close proximity to Silicon Valley. Many leading technology companies have campuses in nearby towns such as San Jose, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. There are plenty of tour companies that offer "nerd tours" of Silicon Valley.

8: Trelew, Argentina

In 2011 I spent some time in Argentina while I was on my way to Antarctica (which is another super cool travel destination). While passing through the city of Trelew, I stopped off at the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Ferugilo. For those who don't speak Spanish, this is arguably Argentina's best paleontology museum.

So why did this one make the list? Well, the museum's extremely impressive collection of dinosaur fossils didn't hurt. But let's face it, if you want to see fossils there are easier places in the world to get to.

The reason why I chose to include this particular museum on the list is because the museum operates its own labs, which are accessible to museum visitors (behind glass). You can actually watch scientists extracting fossils from the rocks or studying specimens under a microscope. The museum's labs were absolutely fascinating.

9: Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is easily one of the best museums in the entire country. I think that the thing that makes this museum so fascinating is that you can get an up close look at the technology used in industries that you might normally be exposed to. For example, you can take a ride through a coal mine beneath the museum or take a look at some of the technology used for modern farming. There are also exhibits dedicated to things like genetic engineering and physics. The centerpiece of the museum's collection is a U-505 submarine, the only German submarine in the United States.

10: Nantes, France

Nantes, France is home to one of the biggest sci-fi conventions in Europe – Utopiales. This convention covers a little bit of everything, including literature, fine arts, role playing games, and of course film and comic books. The festival attracts about 20,000 people each year.

And…

Honorary Mention: New York

I know that this is supposed to be a top ten list, but I had to throw in New York City as a bonus destination. The biggest draw for Geeks is probably the New York Comic Con, but there are plenty of other things for geeks to check out as well. Countless movies have been filmed in New York, and the city is filled with places that you are sure to recognize from your sci-fi favorites, such as the firehouse from Ghost Busters.

Another thing to check out if you are in New York is the Intrepid Museum. Some of the museum's high points include the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Concorde, and an SR-71 Blackbird.

What are your favorite geek-centric travel locations?


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