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The GEEKIEST Vacation Destinations

The GEEKIEST Vacation Destinations

By Swapna Krishna

When you go to sleep at night, what it is it you dream of? Food? Books? Aliens? If the answer is "Travel," then man, do we have an awesome list for you!

Traveling in and of itself is amazing. You can introduce yourself to new places, learning about history and culture. In some ways, it's the ultimate of geeky activities because you revel in the new and unexpected, trying to educate yourself every day. But what if you want to elevate the geekiness of your vacation a notch? Well, then take a look at our list of the geekiest vacation destinations and start planning your next trip.

1) New Zealand

Most people would expect us to recommend Hobbiton, the set of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies that's still standing near Matamata, New Zealand (they even have a pub called The Green Dragon!). New Zealand is the ultimate Middle Earth geek's vacay spot. Looking for Mount Doom? Try Mount Ngauruhoe in the Tongariro volcano range. Or what about The Argonath? You can imagine the giant statues (or pillars/gates, if you want to get technical) digitally edited into the cliffs of the Kawarau Suspension Bridge near Queenstown. The New Zealand government provides a few Tolkien points of interest, but local road maps also mark filming locations; it's fun to show up and try to figure out what part of Middle Earth they became.

2) Tunisia

It's well known that Tunisia served as Tatooine in all of the Star Wars movies (except for The Empire Strikes Back). But did you know that the Lars moisture farm set is still standing? It was in danger of being swallowed by Tunisia's dunes, but a group of fans got together to save it. Now you can go to Tunisia and visit the place where Luke Skywalker was raised. The Hotel Sidi Driss, which is still standing, served as the interior of the house. You can find the exterior of the house near Nefta; you can also find Anakin's house from The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan's house, and more if you do a little research. A geek filled trip, you will have!

3) Universal Studios, Orlando

Yes. We know. It seems sacrelige to include an amusement park in this list. I mean, it seems so obvious, right? But trust us: don't knock it until you've been there. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter sections of Universal Studios are nothing short of magical. They have completely recreated Hogsmeade, but also... HOGWARTS. The main ride is inside a massive recreation of Hogwarts, and it's pretty cool. You can drink Butterbeer, buy your very own wand, and ride the Hogwarts Express—Universal Studios has announced that they're expanding the Harry Potter section of the park, with our favorite train to take visitors between the two parts.

4) Cape Canaveral, Florida and Johnson Space Center, Texas

Okay, so this isn't exactly in the same vein as our previous suggestion, but come on. If you're going to geek out about science fiction and fantasy, why not also revel in the real thing—NASA? The amount of amazing things you can see at each of these sites is pretty awe-inspiring. The shuttle program may be over, but the glory days still live on in our memories.

5) Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Telescopes might not be the first things that come to mind when thinking, "What do I want to see on vacation?" but trust us, these are pretty cool. At the top of Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii, there are some spectacularly large telescopes. Not only is it fun to drive up the volcano (though you'd better have 4WD) and see these amazing structures, but if you plan ahead, you may even get to tour one. Not only that, but the otherworldly looking upper slopes of Mauna Kea are one of the locations where the astronauts practiced collecting moon rocks. And, on your way down, you can stop at the Onizuka observation center (a must-stop in both directions in order to acclimate to the altitudes) and do some amateur stargazing with the group that congregates every night.

6) Vasquez Rocks, California

Okay, so you probably haven't even heard of this place, but if you're a Star Trek fan, then it's worth seeing. Countless Star Trek episodes were filmed here; because of its proximity to the studio, Vasquez Rocks served as the backdrop for many different planets. What's more, J.J. Abrams even used it as a filming location in his first Star Trek movie: it was the setting of Vulcan.

What's your ideal vacation spot?

Tags: harry potter, travel, vacation, star wars, star trek, the hobbit, universal studios, jj abrams, the lord of the rings

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About the Author
Swapna Krishna

Swapna is a Washington, DC-based freelance editor who loves all things space and sci fi. You can find her book reviews at S. Krishna’s Books (http://www.skrishnasbooks.com) and on Twitter at @skrishna.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.