When I was a kid, my family would drive across the Canadian Prairies with a Boler trailer hitched to our station wagon to spend a few weeks vacationing in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
While I could spend all day swimming in Okanagan Lake, keeping an eye out for the mythical Ogopogo — Canada’s version of the Loch Ness Monster — my dad had other ideas. Like visiting the Sun-Rype manufacturing facility.
Even as an adult, I love swim time — and have no interest in touring manufacturing facilities while on vacation — but no matter how hard I try to relax and turn my brain off, I inevitably get restless and bored after about 20 minutes.
So for those seeking a ‘geeky’ vacation destination that will both inspire and educate, the team at Allstream did some brainstorming and came up with a few ideas to inspire your next trip:
Search for dragons and hobbits
Film transports us to other worlds — which might be why we want to experience those worlds first-hand. While touring a Sun-Rype factory isn’t my cup of tea (er, apple juice), I did geek out and hike through the beautifully desolate landscape of ‘Mordor’ in New Zealand, featured in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. While there’s no shortage of tours available for popular movies and TV shows, you can also get in on the action: Game of Thrones fans can throw tomahawk axes and meet direwolf dogs at Winterfell Castle in County Down, Northern Ireland, while Hunger Games fans can practice their archery and slingshot skills in DuPont State Forest, North Carolina.
Build your own lightsaber
The new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Orlando’s Disney World will officially open to the public this Aug. 29, immersing you in the remote planet of Batuu — home of smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers. But a trip to a galaxy far, far away is perhaps best planned for this winter. On opening day you can visit a life-size Millennium Falcon, but the pièce de résistance — the Rise of the Resistance, billed as Disney’s most sophisticated ride ever built — won’t open until Dec. 5. While you’re waiting, you can also make online reservations for limited experiences, such as building a lightsaber.
Experience the g-force
Thanks to SpaceX, space travel is back in the limelight — and a visit to the Kennedy Space Center is a blast (pun intended). It’s also a worthy day trip on your next Florida vacation, located in Cape Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast. A bus tour takes you through a restricted area, past two launch pads, to the Apollo/Saturn V Centre; the highlight here is the Shuttle Launch Experience, which simulates the physical sensation of blasting off into space (and, for me, seeing the Canadarm). If you’re a true space geek, you can dine with an astronaut or sign up for the Astronaut Training Experience. And, if you time it right, you might even see a rocket launch.
Explore the mysteries of the universe
If you can relate to the guys on The Big Bang Theory, then a trip to see the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Switzerland’s CERN accelerator complex is the trip of a lifetime. The LHC is the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator, providing insight into the composition of the universe. Tours of the underground LHC facility must be arranged well in advance, but CERN also offers free guided tours and permanent exhibitions that explore the mysteries of the universe and the work of the world’s largest physics laboratory.
Sea + science = fun
If the thought of going on a cruise gives you heart palpitations, remember that not all cruises are created equal. National Geographic’s expedition cruises (in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions) bring you to some of the most remote places on the planet, from the Galapagos to the Bering Sea, alongside marine biologists, historians and naturalists. With Scientific American, you can “hail the spirit of inquiry, the discipline of scientific theory, and the value of fact” while taking courses at sea with some of the world’s foremost intellectuals. Forget the booze cruise; combine sea and science instead.