Top 10 Destinations for a Geek Holiday
by Shevi Arnold
I’m a geek. An all-round geek. I am geeky about science fiction, fantasy, science, books, comic books, smart video games, comic strips, computers, tech, Dungeons & Dragons, The Princess Bride, The Big Bang Theory, Eureka, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, FireFly, Doctor Who, Grimm, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Monty Python, Jonathan Coulton, the Barenaked Ladies, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sherlock, pretty much anything you can buy at ThinkGeek, creativity, writing, and my fellow geeks. I wrote Why My Love Life Sucks (The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, book one) to tell my fellow geeks--and the world--how geeking awesome we geeks are.
Here’s a list of 10 places the geek in me would love to visit or has visited and would love to visit again.
I’ve been to the New York City Comic Con, and it is wonderful. I still dream, though, of going to Comic Con in San Diego, California, which is the biggest and best Comic Con. The stars for any show or movie with a geek following know that this is where you want to “represent.” There’s no better place to promote a movie, like the next Avengers, Iron Man, or Star Trek, or a TV show, like Arrow, The Big Bang Theory, and even Glee. Geeks here get a chance to see movies and TV shows before anyone else, talk with stars and creators, dress up as or take pictures with their favorite heroes, buy comics and a ton of other geek stuff, and so much more. The New York City Comic Con might have a bit of a more literary and comic-book angle, since New York is where you’ll find Marvel and DC Comics, as well as most of the major publishers. I love that aspect of it, but I still want to go to Comic Con in San Diego. FYI, geek goddess Felicia Day from Eureka, The Guild, and more is going to be at the New York City Comic Con in 2013.
My family has been to Orlando, Florida, and it was. The. Best. Vacation. Ever! If your geek love includes anything Disney, Pixar, Harry Potter, Universal, Marvel and more, this is where you want to be. The best thing to do in Orlando? EVERYTHING. We stayed at the Nick Hotel, which is a lot of fun with Nickelodeon characters everywhere, and at a Disney resort. Both were great. I guess my favorite thing at any of the parks was Muppet Vision 3D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, because it shows of Jim Henson’s genius so well, and I have been a fan of his since I was a teenager. But we loved almost everything we did at all the resorts, Disney parks, and Universal. This was before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and lots of other wonderful additions to the parks, so we really need to go again.
3. London, England
My husband is from London, and I’ve seen many of the most popular tourist destinations there. My favorite is the London Eye, which was has been featured in many movies and TV shows, including one of my favorites: Doctor Who. The theater geek in me (I have bachelor degrees in English Lit and Theater Studies) also loved taking a Thames river tour and seeing the reconstruction of the Globe Theater. My daughter’s best friend visited London last summer, and her favorite was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London, which features sets from the Harry Potter movies. Other geeky things you can do in London include checking out platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross station. taking a walking tour of various places where Doctor Who was filmed (and taking a photo in front of a blue phone box), hopping on a bus or train to Cardiff (a three-hour journey) to check out The Doctor Who Experience, and visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum, which is (of course) located at 221B Baker Street.
4. New York City
Click here to check out Sci-Fi Now’s Nerd Guide to New York City
So many great movies, comic books, and fantasy and science fiction novels take place in New York. Wouldn’t you like to visit the locations of your favorite scenes? Take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building like Percy Jackson. Check out the Statue of Liberty when it’s still standing, unlike in Planet of the Apes. Imagine Spiderman swinging from the skyscrapers, or the Avengers preparing for battle in Times Square. And, yes, if you don’t want to do it on your own, you can even take the Superheroes Tour of New York. Catch a movie at Loews AMC at Lincoln Square, which has one of the world’s best and biggest IMAX theaters in the world. And while there’s no Bucky Bee’s on Broadway (that part of Why My Love Life Sucks is made up), make sure to get some geeking great chocolate from Max Brenner and check out Toys R Us with its animatronic dinosaur, Ferris Wheel, and all sorts of incredible stuff. Gilbert Garfinkle says that New York City is the best place for vampires, because there’s something to do any time of day or night. It’s also amazing for geeks. Best time to visit? Anytime is good, but if you go this year on July 14th, you can participate in Improv Everywhere’s MP3 Experiment, which is always geeky good fun! And if you’re a book geek, you might want to catch Matilda, the Broadway musical based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book about a magical little girl who loves to read. Whatever your geek love is, you’re sure to find something you’ll love in the Big Apple.
5. The E3
The E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and it’s held annually in Los Angeles, California. What does that mean to geeks? Video games, of course! And you get to find out--and even try out--the latest and future video games and gaming tech. But it’s not just video games. It’s sort of like Comic Con but with a greater focus on video games--and other geeky cool electronics--than comics. Regardless, it still has all the things that make a great Comic Con great. Zac Levi, the star of Chuck, Disney’s Tangled, and more, will be there again with his Nerd Machine, and this year they’re going to be covering the event for Spike TV. If you like the electronics side but aren’t that much of a gamer, don’t worry. There’s also the CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, held every year in Las Vegas. Some of my siblings who work in the computer industry have been there, and I would love to go. I’m sure Gilbert Garfinkle, the hero of Why My Love Life Sucks, would love that too.
If you’re the kind of geek who loves sushi, manga, anime, or Nintendo or Sony Playstation games, you’ve probably tried to imagine yourself visiting Japan. I know I have, and many of my friends and relatives have gone there. I want to see sushi served on a conveyor belt. I want to buy a copy of the latest Professor Layton video game before it’s translated into English. I want to explore the gadgets in the shops in Tokyo. I want to stare at the cute and cool harajuku girls with their over-the-top sense of style. And I want to take a short bus ride to Mitaka to visit the Ghibli Museum, because I love Hayao Miyazaki’s movies that were produced by Studio Ghibli. Kiki’s Delivery Service is my favorite, but they’re all great. Geeks love Japan.
Technically, you don’t have to go to a TED Conference to enjoy it, but it would be a huge honor for any geek to be invited to speak at one. What’s a TED Conference? It’s a conference for people who have ideas that could make the world a better place (very Gilbert the Fixer, don’t you think?). The TED motto is “ideas worth spreading.” And since they believe in practicing what they preach, every TED talk can be found online and shared. Some are funny. Some are brilliant. Some are creative. Some are inspirational. But all of them will make you see something in a new light. Just go to http://www.ted.com and click on the kind of thing you’d like to see. Then prepare to be amazed.
8. Space Camp
Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama lets anyone at any age can find out what it’s like to be an astronaut. And while I personally wouldn’t like to go (I suffer from car sickness, so I don’t want to even imagine what space sickness might be like), I know Gilbert would love it. They have camps for kids, teens, adults, families, and even corporations interested in building teamwork. So what is it exactly? Here’s a description from their website: “During the five-night program, trainees participate in two 1-hour simulated shuttle missions. Students in mission control will monitor the progress and safety of the mission, those in the shuttle will successfully launch and land the spacecraft, and those in the space station will conduct science experiments while learning basic scientific principles....Trainees will experience walking on the moon in our 1/6th gravity chair to feel what it’s like to work in a frictionless environment and navigate a tumble-spin on the multi-axis trainer, just like the Mercury astronaut training!”
Dragon*Con Parade photo from WSB-TV of Atlanta, Georgia
Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia is very much like a Comic Con, but with less of a focus on comic books, and with a greater focus (although not exclusive) on fantasy and science-fiction novels, classic sci-fi TV shows, Dungeons & Dragons, and rock music. In a way, you could say it’s more hard-core geek than the Comic Cons. This year Dragon*Con will be held August 30th to Sept. 2nd, 2013 http://www.dragoncon.org/ Here’s a link to the featured appearances, including several famous fantasy and SF writers, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage from Mythbusters, William Shatner from Star Trek, and James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=featured_list
10. Your local public library
A reading room in the New York Public Library (from Wikimedia)
You can go anywhere in a book: Middle Earth, Hogwarts School of Wizardry, Narnia, Oz--it’s all waiting for you, and a good public library can take you there. Most public libraries in the United States offer books, magazines, Internet access, CDs, DVDs, and so much more. And best of all--it’s free! So pick up a book and let it take you wherever you want to go.