America is a country steeped in nerd culture. Silicon Valley, Comic-Con and a variety of specialty museums celebrate the nerd within all of us. Set your coordinates, wandering geek, and prepare to behold the country’s nerdiest destinations.
Road Trip Prep
Before you embark on your geeky quest, there are a few preparations to make. We’re assuming you’ve gathered some like-minded friends and have chosen the driver. An entire automotive inspection is in order, in addition to an oil change and air filter replacement. Inspect the tire treads. If they’re worn down past what’s deemed safe, you and your friends can easily chip in and pick up some cheap tires before departing for a smooth, safe ride.
Never leave home without your smartphone. The two apps below will nicely complement your tech-fueled travels around the country.
Wi-Fi Finder – To avoid exorbitant data roaming charges, the Wi-Fi Finder will lead you to the closest hotspot. Its offline mode enables users to download maps before hitting the road.
Google Goggles – Until the futuristic Google Glass is affordable and available to the public, the Google Goggles app will do. With this astonishing app, users can take a picture, and image recognition technology will recognize what’s in the photo and present relevant search results. Snap a photo of a famed landmark, artwork or storefront, and Goggles will identify it.
Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
Also known as the EMP Museum, the Experience Music Project Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is a haven for nerd culture. The building itself is a sight to behold, with its fusion of stainless steel and painted aluminum shingles. This Seattle museum hosts exhibitions like “Icons of Science Fiction,” “The Art of Video Games” and the upcoming “Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.” Music aficionados will also find a lot to love at the Sound Lab, a soundproof room where musicians come to play. The Guitar Gallery features 55 vintage guitars that changed the world from the 1770s to modern day.
Bonus nerd note: Microsoft headquarters are in in Redmond, Wash. Nerds can learn the company’s history and get a sneak peak at new Microsoft gadgets.
Home of the supposed alien landing(s), Roswell will please extraterrestrial-loving nerds. Visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center to learn about the mysterious 1947 crash. Newspaper clippings, incident photos and a film of the “official” alien autopsy can be seen. Visitors can also attend Roswell UFO Festival in July.
Computer History Museum
Located in Mountain View, Calif., the Computer History Museum houses the artifacts and stories from the information age. One exhibit, “Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing” presents 19 alcoves detailing everything from ancient devices to the future of technology. Nerds will want to check out the 150-year-old computer, faithfully reconstructed from the notes of Charles Babbage, the first computer pioneer.
An homage to classic pinball and the 8-bit era of video gaming, Ground Kontrol in Portland, Ore., is the premier arcade on the West Coast. More than 60 retro video games and 27 pinball machines glorify the golden age of video games. The original cabinets and quarter slots contribute to the gaming nostalgia of the latter decades of the 20th century. Older arcade-goers will remember their favorites from “Asteroids” and “Pac-Man” to “Street Fighter” and “Galaga.” During the arcade’s evening hours, beer and wine are served. Pinball enthusiasts are encouraged to compete at Ground Kontrol’s 5th Annual Pinball Tournament on April 21.
The Museum of Science and Industry
Originally constructed as the Palace of Fine Arts during the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry now houses exhibits featuring cutting-edge science and industrial innovation. Current featured exhibits include “Science Storms,” which explores the science behind lightning, tornadoes, tsunamis and atoms in motion. The “Animal Inside Out” exhibit, brought to you by the creator of “Body Worlds,” is open until September. Visitors can peer at the anatomical inner workings of of animals such as octopi, giraffes and ostriches.
What are your favorite places on this list that you would like to go to on a geek road trip? Have you been to any of these places? If you could go anywhere on a geeky traveling trip (to anywhere!) where would you go? Let us know in the comments below!