Planning a vacation but more interested in science, technology and generally geeky subjects than in picnics and beaches? Fortunately, the U.S. offers plenty of geeky travel destinations. Whether you’re a single geek or a member of a geek family, there’s something for everyone.
10. International UFO Museum and Research Center
International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico
You don’t have to be a fan of “The X Files” to want to visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico. Nor do you need to be a “ufologist,” someone who specializes in knowledge and research relating to UFOs. Nor do you need to be an astrophysicist, or a rocket scientist. Guaranteed, however, this museum will appeal to all those groups and more. Founded in the same city where one of the most famous American UFO sightings (and alleged cover-ups) took place, the museum contains a collection of artifacts and information relating to aliens, space ships and strange sightings in the nighttime sky. It even contains a research library, in case you’d like to work on your own contributions to the scholarship relating to “little green men.”
9. The Tech Museum of Innovation
The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California
Where can you try out the latest technological innovations and find out what the process is like to create them? Why, The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, of course! While science museums abound from coast to coast, this one actually allows you to be part of the development process: trying out emerging technologies and providing valuable feedback. From infrared cameras to “gestural interface technology,” if you’re a tech head, you’ll be in heaven.
8. Kitt Peak National Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona
Located 6,875 feet above sea level, the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, boasts the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes as well as two radio telescopes, which together represent eight astronomical research institutions. Open to the public daily except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the observatory offers guided tours three times daily, as well as nightly observing programs. Among the telescopes is even a solar telescope that lets you gaze at the sun!
7. Museum of Science + Industry
Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago, Illinois
One of the top-rated science museums in the country is the Museum of Science + Industry in Chicago. Boasting interactive exhibits, it delves into everything from transportation to biology, meteorology, and more. Among the museum’s treasures are unique items like a miniature fairy castle created by silent film star Colleen Moore; the Silver Streak, America’s first diesel-electric streamlined passenger train; and an up-close “real-time” view of planet Earth. The museum also offers live science experiences for schoolchildren, where they can do such things as diagnose a Human Patient Simulator and try their hand at manufacturing design.
6. National Museum of Play
National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York
For those who love collectibles and games, The National Museum of Play at the Strong in Rochester, New York, will be a little slice of heaven. Not only does the museum house an astounding number of games, including the Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame, but it also offers activities such as the American Comic Book Heroes world, featuring a Super Powers School where everyone can be a hero. Gaming geeks will be delighted to learn that The Strong also provides research fellowships for advanced graduate students who are working in the field of play scholarship.
5. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center in Orsino, Florida
If you’re vacationing in Florida, clear a day to visit The Kennedy Space Center in Orsino, Florida. To have the full KSC experience, you’ll want to take the bus tour around the grounds, from which you can view the launch pads as well as the impressive Vehicle Assembly Building. Then you’ll want to participate in the Shuttle Launch Experience and, as of summer 2013, view the retired Space Shuttle Atlantis. On the grounds, you can also tour hangars containing historic space vehicles, wander through the Rocket Garden, check out exhibits on new space programs, or if you are willing to pay extra, even have lunch with an astronaut.
4. Computer History Museum
Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
From the creation of the Babbage Engine to the latest microprocessors, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, is where you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about computers. Where else can you play Pong, check out some of the first computers from the 1940s and 1950s, and take a glimpse at the breakthroughs of the future? A haven for hackers, programmers, and videogamers.
3. The EMP Museum
The EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington
Another must-see tourist site is the museum of music, science fiction and pop culture, The EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington. Guess which section is likely to interest geeks? The museum states as its goal to serve as a multigenerational resource and to encourage scholarship. Whether you’re writing a book about video games or a master’s thesis on the horror genre in film, you’ll learn a lot here. Plus, you can see such artifacts as Neo’s coat from “The Matrix Reloaded” and an actual Dalek used in shooting the ever-popular BBC series, “Dr. Who.”
2. Midtown Comics
Midtown Comics in New York City
Customers for the New York City comic store chain, Midtown Comics, have called it two floors of “nerdgasm.” The store not only brags of oodles of comics from every known publisher but also hosts high-profile signings and talks with big names in the comic biz. If you’re a comic fan, you may want to set a timer, because it’s easy to lose track of time in this amazing store.
Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire
Nostalgic for the days when $5 worth of quarters could buy you an afternoon of fun? Well, the price per game may have increased, but you can relieve those button-smashing glory days at Funspot in Laconia, New Hampshire, which brags it is the largest arcade in the world. With over 500 games, plus candlepin bowling, cash bingo and outdoor & indoor mini golf, it’s a pretty believable claim. Founded over 60 years ago, the arcade offers fun for geeks of all ages.