Are you a nerd in need of a vacation destination this year? Look no further than these Top 10 intensely nerdy vacation destinations! Bonus points if you can fit them all into one year (nerds have a lot of disposable income, right??).
10. Washington D.C. – Smithsonian Museums
There are 19 Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C., and they are all free! Eleven of them are conveniently located at the National Mall – and even if they weren’t, Washington D.C. is absurdly easy to get around in without a car. The Metro system that runs under D.C. might look like it’s still in the 70s, but it’s efficient, cheap, and beats D.C. traffic! If you have your heart on visiting more than a few of D.C.’s free museums, be sure to book at least a week or two – each facility is enormous with countless national treasures.
The Air and Space Museum features life-sized space stations you can walk through, along with fighter pilot simulators that have full rotation. That’s right; you can trick one of your friends or loved ones into getting in there with you and then take them on the ‘dryer cycle’ experience as you barrel roll to your virtual deaths. Fun, right?
The American Heritage Museum has an insane amount of pop-culture items, from Archie Bunker’s chair to R2D2. Let your history nerd relish in seeing Andrew Jackson’s finest suit up close and in person!
9. The Pennsic War – For the Medieval Nerd
I know what you’re thinking… most nerds generally prefer to avoid conflict, but you won’t want to avoid this annual late summer medieval event held by the Society for Creative Anachronism! Located in Pennsylvania, it combines history with competitiveness, actually hitting each other with sticks and drinking mead in excess. And – get this – it’s 17 days long! Battles won rack up sweet war points and offer an opportunity to let out some aggression after weeks and weeks of trying to find the bug in your code or a year of herding cats… aka, Project Management.
8. Seattle, WA or Boston, MA – PAX Prime and PAX East
As if you even need an excuse to go to Seattle. There’s coffee and… more coffee! Well, if you need even MORE reasons to check out this happening place, check out PAX Prime (or PAX East if you’re stuck on the East Coast) in late August each year. PAX originally began as a gaming convention, but as most conventions tend to do, it’s grown over the years. Enjoy gaming, panels, live music, tabletop games and more with you and thousands of others who love the same stuff you do! It’s like nerd heaven!
7. Seattle, WA – EMP Museum
While we’re in Seattle, there’s the EMP Museum, which recently opened Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction. EMP is a Music, Sci-Fi and Pop Culture museum that has the potential to capture every one of your nerdy interests. If you’re in Seattle, are a nerd, and DON’T check this place out, we’re gonna have to ask for your membership card back. Founded by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 and located near the Space Needle, it’s kind of what Seattle is all about. Treat yourself!
6. Pembroke, VA – Ice & Fire Con
Are you a HUGE Game of Thrones nerd? If so, get yourself to Ice & Fire Con this April! This is a place where the heartiest of GoT fans come together and live it up! Or, you know, try to kill each other. Figuratively. Definitely figuratively. This convention is 18 years or older, so you know it’s got to be fun. Events include discussion panels, board game competitions, costume contests and Champions tournaments!
5. Orlando, FL – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
Florida residents struck Gold when Universal decided to commit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in their parks. It is not an understatement to say that the authenticity of WWHP is second only to the actual sets for filming. Walking into the town of Hogsmeade is a pleasant shock, to say the least – with authentic-looking snow adorning the rooftops, guests are transported into the Wizarding World that J.K. Rowling gifted us so many years ago.
To ride the title attraction, guests navigate the Hogwarts Castle, complete with moving and talking paintings, classrooms, Professor’s offices and more! Many, like me, I’m sure, would have been happy to wander around ‘in line’ some more rather than board the ride, which in itself is pretty amazing.
Harry Potter nerds MUST take the time to treat themselves to this slice of Harry Potter paradise – drop some gold and indulge in a delicious, if not diabetic-shock, enduringly sweet, Butter Beer.
4. United Kingdom Nerd Tour – Harry Potter, Torchwood and Dr Who!
Speaking of Harry Potter, enthusiasts can drop some more gold to get themselves to the U.K. and enjoy a whole host of British-in-origin nerd attractions. Visit the sets of Harry Potter and pose with the half-trolley at Platform 9¾. While you’re in the U.K., check out these Torchwood and Dr Who destinations.
3. New Zeland – Lord of the Rings
I have to imagine most Lord of the Rings nerds have ‘visit New Zealand’ on their bucket lists if nothing else than to check out Bilbo Baggin’s sweet hobbit house. Tourism in New Zealand has seen a huge boom because of the Lord of the Rings films – and fans will not be disappointed. Not only are the official tours varied, but they are also so inclusive that many of them include a second breakfast. And let’s face it; there are way worse uses of time than leveraging your love for Lord of the Rings to crisscross the gorgeous landscape of New Zealand. You know you want to do it. Splurge now; you won’t regret it!
2. Galapagos Islands – The Science Nerd’s Happy Place
Have you ever longed to get so far away from people and evolution that all the wildlife is uniquely strange? Well, the Galapagos are the place for you! Check out one of the most isolated locations on the planet and revel in your exclusivity as you experience Darwin’s curiosities and observations. The Galapagos are number two on this list, almost exclusively due to how difficult it is to travel there – you have to really want it to go so far out of your way. We’ll just say it’s not exactly anyone’s stop anywhere else. You’re going there to check out all the cool, unique things. And that makes this rank pretty high on the nerdy vacation destination list.
1. Atlanta, GA – DragonCon
Finally, we arrive at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. This convention, in this writer’s opinion, is Mecca for nerds. Every nerd should undergo a pilgrimage to this magical event at least once in their lifetime. Consisting of 5 major Downtown Atlanta Hotels, DragonCon is celebrating its 29th year in 2016 – starting in 1987 as a simple fantasy convention; it has since ballooned to cater to every single nerd facet you could imagine. Cosplay? Got it. Tabletop coming? Gaming-gaming? Celebrity panels? Raves? Parties? Parades? Dealer’s rooms? Collectables? Workshops? Magic shows? Check, check, and more check.
Every Labor Day Weekend, somewhere between 50 and 70 THOUSAND nerds descend upon Atlanta –much to the amusement or chagrin of the locals – and, as a community, celebrate the wonder that is being enthusiastic about…. Something, anything… everything! Being a nerd myself, I can tell you it is not always the most popular designation – though we’re currently in a Golden Age if you will – and with my first few shuffling footsteps into the Marriott Atrium, I knew I was with my people. There is always someone to talk to about something you both love. There is always something fun to look at, always someone to dance with, play quarters with, and share a laugh with.