Dig those pointy Mr. Spock ears out of the closet and wear your Harry Potter glasses with conviction. No longer partitioned to society’s fringe, nerd culture is now part the mainstream.
Embrace your inner geek with family vacation options including Comic-Con in San Diego, the Computer History Museum in the Silicon Valley and Edo Wonderland in Nikko, Japan.
Celebrate these weirdly wacky, proudly offbeat and quintessentially quirky activities. Here are the best geeky getaways for families waiting to be discovered.
San Diego, California
The annual Comic-Con International: San Diego is a mega-celebration of superheroes and a whole lot more. What started off as a humble gathering of comic book fans in the early 1970s has blossomed into an impressive ground zero for multi-genre geek culture. While comic books are featured, fans of anime, wizards, zombies and spaceships will be right at home. Entertainment and movie buffs flock here to get a sneak-peak at film trailers and to meet their favorite action heroes. There are many activities geared to children plus a variety of panels and seminars with teen appeal. Cosplay prevails so feel free to dress the part. The massive marketplace does a brisk business so the kids may want to start saving their allowance.
A visit to Edo Wonderland, just a few hours from Tokyo via high-speed rail, is like stepping into the 17th century world of a shogun. Visitors many rent traditional clothing, joining costumed re-enactors dressed in kimonos and samurai outfits. Try your hand at archery or delve into the discipline required of a samurai swordsman. Live shows include an action-packed ninja spectacle, where agile performers thrill the audience with swashbuckling acrobatics.
Courtesy of Aspen Meadows
If you’ve got a teenager who’s a policy geek, news junkie or political activist, Aspen Meadows should be on your radar.
This prestigious think tank draws the world’s brightest minds to its institute, but it’s also home to a mountain hotel. Guests and institute attendees casually rub shoulders, imparting a cerebral vibe and an opportunity for intellectual exchange you’re unlikely to find at any other resort. Notice global leaders and world-famous scholars ordering an omelet at the breakfast buffet or share a lane with a Supreme Court Justice or former US President while you swim laps. The proximity to so much brainpower should impress even the most jaded teen.
Aspen offers great skiing and a host of other fresh air options, so a visit exercises the mind and the body.
Families with an interest in space shouldn’t miss the Space Center Houston. Guests will get an in-depth look at the artifacts that trace the progression of human space explorations. Examine the world’s largest collection of moon rocks, lunar samples and spacesuits. The mission is to guide young visitors to think critically about America’s space program in a global perspective so it’s very educational.
Take it up a notch and have lunch with an astronaut on Fridays and Saturdays at 12:00pm. The lunch includes a personalized photograph from the guest astronaut. If your little space geek still wants more, spend the night at a Family Campout. You’ll dine at the Space Center and participate in activities before you hit the sack. It’s recommended for age 5 and older.
Mountain View, California
Courtesy of the Computer History Museum
Delve into the evolution of technology and how it has transformed our world at the Computer History Museum. You’ll discover how software is made with the option to try your luck at coding, sit in a self-driving car and learn Photoshop from pros. The location, in the heart of the tech giant Silicon Valley, is entirely fitting.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an immersive treat for fans of the super-popular book and film series. At the locations in Hollywood and Orlando, you’ll sip butter beer, explore Hogwarts castle and eat British boarding school fare. Don’t-miss rides include the motion simulation Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, where you’ll visit iconic locations such as Dumbledore’s office before you take off and soar with an array of magical creature.
Courtesy of Dr Seuss Museum
Does your child cherish his or her weathered copy of The Cat in The Hat like it’s a precious tiara? Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was from this corner of Western Massachusetts and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum honors his revolutionary role in how we learn to read. It’s rich with personal artifacts that draw a nuanced portrait of the inventive man behind these rhyming stories and endearing literary characters.
The galleries are highly interactive with opportunities to draw, paint and create.
Just outside is the Dr. Seuss National Museum Sculpture Garden, an outdoor collection of huge bronze sculptures that make it easy to mingle with iconic Seuss characters including favorites like The Grinch.
Duck Key, Florida
Courtesy of Hawk's Cay
Hawks Cay is a classic Florida oceanfront resort. It offers the chance to swim with the resident dolphins but its Dolphin Trainer for a Day program goes even further. For three hours, kids age 10 and older will be with professional dolphin trainers getting a behind-the-scenes look at these intelligent mammals. Participants will have plenty of up-close interactions with these adorable Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins as well as an eye-opening window into the dolphin-trainer relationship.
White Post, Virginia
Step into the prehistoric past with a visit to Dinosaur Land. This old-school roadside attraction is a sculpture park with 50 life-size dinosaur statues fabricated out of fiberglass. Kids (and kids at heart) will delight in climbing right on these realistic-looking giants. It’s delightfully low-tech and unabashedly retro.
Disney obsessives can go beyond the theme parks and visit this real fairytale castle in Germany. Perched high among the rolling hills and charming landscapes of Bavaria, you'll feel like you stepped right into the pages of a princess storybook. And if the blue turrets and white towers look familiar, that's because the enchanting spot was the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland.
By Allison Tibaldi