100 More Geeky Places to Visit With Your Family, Any Time of the Year

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Future Birthplace of James T. KirkFuture Birthplace of James T. Kirk
Image by Marshall Astor via Flickr

Almost no list is complete. So when I read Doug Cornelius’s post on 100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer, I immediately started making a list of additional spots. So here is a follow-up post, containing your suggestions, my experiences and other locations I have found in my hunt, this time organized by geographic region. You may question the geekiness of some of the places, but remember, geeks come in a variety of types.

  1. Lowell Observatory. Flagstaff, Arizona – Take a tour, watch a program or look through a telescope at this wonderful observatory located at 7200 feet in elevation.
  2. Antelope Canyon. Page, Arizona – The weathered rocks and slot canyons are a sight to behold. One of the Navajo Nation’s Tribal Parks.
  3. Kitt Peak National Observatory. Tucson, Arizona – Home to 24 optical and 2 radio telescopes, Kitt Peak has guided tours and nightly observing programs.
  4. Challenger Space Center. Peoria, Arizona – Educational programs, camps, public tours, stargazing, simulated space missions, birthday parties, corporate programs… This place does it all.
  5. Kartchner Caverns State Park. Benson, Arizona – Ooo and ahh at the stalactites and the stalagmites in this wonderful set of caverns. Kids can be junior rangers, Girl Scouts can earn a patch and there is even a Discovery Center scavenger hunt!
  6. White Sands National Monument. White Sands, New Mexico – There’s just something about playing in sand dunes… And when they are all white and gorgeous, it inspires you even more. The simplicity of this location allows it to be a great backdrop for all kinds of adventures. Kids can be Junior Rangers for a day, earning a Junior Dunes ranger patch and certificate, or they can just have plenty of park fun.
  7. Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad, New Mexico – Tour the caverns or join their annual Bat Flight Breakfast. They also have a Cave Photography Workshop.
  8. The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Albuquerque, New Mexico – If you’re at all fascinated by the nuclear age, visit this museum in the state that created the atomic bomb. It covers everything from radiation to dropping the bombs on Japan to fallout shelters.
  9. National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Socorro, New Mexico – Come see the Very Large Array of radio telescopes and visit their science and visitor centers.
  10. Butterfly Pavillion. Westminster, Colorado – Investigate creepy crawly bugs, learn about science and spend time in the large butterfly habitat room, studying the different varieties they have. Fun for all ages.
  11. Cave of the Winds. Colorado Springs, Colorado – Experience a tour of these caves, which have more than one entrance, thus causing the wind to rush through. There’s even a virtual tour on their site.
  12. Dinosaur National Monument. Dinosaur, Colorado – Explore where dinosaurs once roamed and died, and also see some rock art. Currently the visitor’s center is closed because of structural issues, but renovations and construction will be completed as early as summer 2011.
  13. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Canon City, Colorado – A gorgeous example of civil engineering, this bridge towers 1200 feet above the Arkansas River below. Geology geeks will love the view of the cross section of the earth cut by the river. The area also has plenty of rides, shows and other attractions.
  14. Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver, Colorado – Located in a gorgeous setting in a large city park, this museum has a variety of natural history and science exhibits.
  15. Hoover Dam Overpass. Arizona/Nevada border – Take a tour to learn about how the dam was built, how it operates today and how power is generated from the dam.
  16. Atomic Testing Museum. Las Vegas, Nevada – Learn about the atomic bomb and the nuclear program after World War II, just minutes from the Las Vegas strip.
  17. Mayborn Museum. Waco, Texas (Baylor University) – Discover a display of mammoth bones underneath a see-through floor, stroll around a historical village, or if you make it there by mid August, experience the traveling exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci’s Machines in Motion (40 full-sized and functional machines built from his designs).
  18. Winchester Mystery House. San Jose, California – Rooms were constantly being built on to this very large and interesting house. It has staircases to nowhere, strange rooms and all kinds of unusual details. There are 40 staircases, about 40 bedrooms and four stories (there were seven before the 1906 earthquake). Very interesting guided tours available.
  19. Hearst Castle. San Simeon, California – This large house where William Randolph Hearst used to live has several different guided tours (reservations are required). The two I have been on were equally fascinating. See what a lot of wealth and interesting taste will create. Hearst also kept a private zoo on the property.
  20. Griffith Observatory. Los Angeles, California – Visit this observatory and planetarium for school programs, public programs and astronomy parties. They even have a multimedia theater named after Leonard Nimoy.
  21. Mystery Spot. Santa Cruz, California – Marvel at the mystery of this unusual spot and take the tour of their interesting experiments with perspective and gravity.
  22. Redwood National Park. Crescent City, California – Visit the the Forest Moon of Endor, er, I mean, see the tall redwood trees of California. And, as with many National Parks, your kids can be involved in the Junior Ranger program. Maybe they’ll spot an Ewok.
  23. The Walt Disney Family Museum. San Francisco, California – Set to open October 1, 2009, this museum won’t just be about Mickey Mouse. Disney had a geeky side, using new technology for things, and he often worked with engineers from companies such as Ford and GE.
  24. American Museum of Radio and Electricity. Bellingham, Washington – They tackle four hundred years of science and culture with their collection of objects. Galleries break history into time periods, with special emphasis on radio’s heyday.
  25. Museum of Flight. Seattle, Washington – See a vintage Air Force One, a Concorde, an early Air Mail plane and World War I and World War II fighters. There is even a Kid’s Flight Zone with activities for kids of all ages, the Challenger Learning Center and you can also watch planes take off from the Boeing Field.
  26. House on the Rock. Spring Green, Wisconsin – This is one attraction that I have great memories of as a child. There are sights to see, contraptions to watch and plenty of things to figure out. Plus, it’s a house on top of a giant rock. What engineering!
  27. Gateway Arch. St. Louis, Missouri – The arch symbolizes the gateway to the west during the time of westward expansion. It’s the tallest national monument in the United States. Learn about the mathematical shape of a catenary curve, the shape of the arch.
  28. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. St. Louis, Missouri – This National Memorial is the park surrounding the Gateway Arch. It memorializes Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening up the West to pioneers, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
  29. Conner Prairie. Fishers, Indiana – An interactive history park based on the 1800s. Don’t miss their 1859 Balloon Voyage!
  30. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Indianapolis, Indiana – With your children, explore 11 major galleries involving physical and natural science, history, culture and arts. There are a lot of hands-on activities. There is also a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit and a planetarium.
  31. Invent Now: National Inventors Hall of Fame. Akron, Ohio – Honoring inventors of the past and present with a lot of fun things for kids of all ages to try.
  32. The Columbus Zoo. Columbus, Ohio – If their zoo is anything like their website, it’s something special.
  33. Center of Science and Industry. Columbus, Ohio – This science museum has more programs for students and teachers than I’ve ever seen. Plus they have a lot of hands-on exhibits and activities in a variety of areas for kids of all ages.
  34. The Henry Ford Museum. Dearborn, Michigan – Visit their Dymaxion House, examine the effect of the automobile on American life and see a line of historical presidential limousines.
  35. Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. Farmington Hills, Michigan – Spend some time in this densely packed museum of mechanical and coin operated goodness.
  36. AirZoo/Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum. Kalamazoo, Michigan – This aviation museum with free general admission has a lot of rides (which you pay for) such as full-motion flight simulators, shuttle rides, balloon races, a zero gravity ride and many more.
  37. Museum of Science and Industry. Chicago, Illinois – One of the most famous science museums in the country stays current with exhibits on Harry Potter, Smart Homes, future inventions and hands-on science experiments.
  38. The Field Museum. Chicago, Illinois – On the shores of Lake Michigan, this natural history museum has a Family PlayLab where you can help your children observe the world around them, several exhibits where you can learn about native people and animals and Sue, the largest, most complete and best preserved T. rex.
  39. Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk, and TrekFest. Voyage Home Museum, Riverside, Iowa – Depending on which timeline you identify with, James T. Kirk will be born in Iowa in the year 2228. Visit this important spot and tour the museum created in his honor.
  40. The Toy and Action Figure Museum. Pauls Valley, Oklahoma – See thousands of toys and action figures from over the years.
  41. Shakers. Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Kentucky – The United Society of Believers, called the Shakers, had several villages all over the east. You can visit some to learn about their way of life, their cooking, their handicrafts and a variety of other things.
  42. Amish. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and other locations – In many locations, you can have a tour of an Amish community or eat an Amish meal. Certainly, you can also shop for Amish handicrafts. The Amish have to be very creative to invent new ways to do things without electricity.
  43. Mapparium at The Mary Baker Eddy Library. Boston, Massachusetts – Mapparium is a three-story stained glass globe which gives a perspective of the world of 1935. A presentation, A World of Ideas, goes along with it, as does a complementary exhibit, “The Mapparium: An Inside View.”
  44. Old Sturbridge Village. Sturbridge, Massachusetts – Experience life from 1790 to 1840 at this largest outdoor history museum in the northeast.
  45. Higgins Armory Museum. Worcester, Massachusetts – According to our reader abfeland, this is “quite possibly the geekiest place in America.” It contains arms and armor, curiosities and even Knight School summer camps. Looks like a fun time!
  46. MIT Museum. Boston, Massachusetts – Can you get any geekier than the MIT Museum? They even have robots!
  47. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Hartford, Connecticut – Her last residence has been set up as a museum containing vast quantities of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s work. Their collections also include works by her relations. The Stowe Center connects the lessons learned from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the continuing issues of race, gender and social justice.
  48. Idlewild Park. Ligonier, Pennsylvania – One of their themed lands is called Story Book Forest, and another is Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe!
  49. Mütter Museum. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – At The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, visit this museum of medical oddities.
  50. The Insectarium. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – For anyone interested in insects! See live specimens, a kitchen full of cockroaches, a working beehive and more.
  51. Wagner Free Institute of Science. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – This institute was started in the mid 1800s to provide free science education to the people of Philadelphia. See mineral collections, fossils, mounted birds and mammals, shells, dinosaur bones and many other items, all arranged for study and display.
  52. Museum of the Earth. Ithaca, New York – Love dinosaurs and fossils? Love learning about this history of our planet? Try visiting this museum.
  53. The Strong Museum of Play. Rochester, New York – They have more than 150,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, a butterfly garden, events and even the National Toy Hall of Fame. Take your whole family and play all day!
  54. Brookhaven National Laboratory. Upton, New York – Learn about their research, see their scientific machines and participate in family science activities!
  55. InfoAge Science Center. Wall, New Jersey – On the site of the 1914 Marconi Belmar Trans-Atlantic Wireless station, this is not just another science center. Some exhibits include radio shows, radio pioneers and the contributions of African-Americans to the development of radar during the time of Jim Crow laws. There is a lot to discover here.
  56. National Museum of American History. Washington, D.C. – This is, by far, my favorite of the Smithsonian museums. In their collections, they have everything from domestic furnishings to coins to computers to maps to engineering. No matter where your geeky interests lie, they probably have a collection that will appeal to you. In addition, they have a vast array of ongoing exhibits and traveling exhibits to interest you. They deal with science, invention, fashion, war time, cars, entertainment and even lunch boxes.
  57. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. – The Library of Congress gives guided tours on which you’ll learn about the building’s history, art, architecture and the collections, including the Gutenberg Bible. No reservations or tickets are required! And for those of you who can’t travel to see the library, the website contains enough information to last a lifetime.
  58. National Postal Museum. Washington, D.C. – For you stamp collectors out there, visit this museum to peruse stamps from throughout our history. The importance of mail is also highlighted.
  59. Zorbing! Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (Smoky Mountains) and Rotorua, New Zealand – Ever wondered what it was like inside a hamster ball? Now’s your chance. Try both the wet and the dry Zorbs, both are a blast. I know from firsthand experience.
  60. Computer Museum. Blacksburg, Virginia (Virginia Tech) – Contains early computers and parts, some dating back to the 1950s.
  61. Jamestown Settlement. Williamsburg, Virginia – Step back in time to 1607 and see what life was like for the first European settlers in this part of the world.
  62. Wallops Island. Wallops Island, Virginia – This island has a NASA Flight Center, a Marine Science consortium and a NOAA observation station. One stop geeky shop!
  63. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Chincoteague, Virginia – This refuge has more than 14,000 acres of beach, maritime forest, salt marsh and freshwater marsh habitats. See all kinds of wildlife or just go beach combing. This area is wonderful for finding nice shells and driftwood. Also, you can see the wild Chincoteage ponies!
  64. Wright Brothers National Memorial. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – See where Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the first successful airplane flights in 1903.
  65. Audubon Nature Institute. New Orleans, Louisiana – With a zoo, an aquarium, an insectarium, an IMAX theater, a golf course and parks, you can spend as much time here as your heart desires.
  66. Magnetic Hill. Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. A car shifted into neutral here will seem to roll uphill. It’s actually an optical illusion caused by the shape of the land surrounding you, but it’s quite effective.
  67. The Ontario Science Centre. Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Nine exhibition halls of hands-on science and technology. One of the largest museums of its kind in North America, it was started 40 years ago as one of the world’s first interactive science museums.
  68. Personal Computer Museum. Brantford, Ontario, Canada – Open on select dates, this museum highlights what computer life has been like for more than 30 years. Show your kids computers that don’t use mice!
  69. Royal Tyrrell Museum. Drumheller, Alberta, Canada – Drumheller is one of the major sites for dinosaur excavation. It’s situated in the Alberta Badlands. The museum (which is also a research center) has a large display of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. There are camps and school programs for children. If you have any interest at all in prehistoric life, this is a must-see destination.
  70. Burgess Shale. Field, British Columbia, Canada – Help celebrate the 100th birthday of the discovery of some of the world’s most important fossils.
  71. National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory. Arecibo, Puerto Rico – Learn about planetary, atmospheric and astronomical observations and study.
  72. Royal Observatory. Greenwich, London, England – This is ground zero for being at ground zero, where longitude all began, and also where the clocks determining Greenwich Mean Time were kept. You’ll see a lot of fellow geeks walking around looking at the exhibits on timekeeping and navigation. If you take your GPS, you’ll find that 0 longitude on the GPS is some yards away from the markings printed in the ground. There are astronomy and time galleries, maritime galleries, art and photography galleries and a children’s interactive section. There is also the observatory itself, of course!
  73. Woolsthorpe Manor. Lincolnshire, England – Where Isaac Newton was born and also made most of his important discoveries.
  74. Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Buckinghamshire, England – Located in the village where he lived and wrote for 36 years, learn about Roald Dahl, the author of wonderful books such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and Matilda. There are many hands-on activities and displays, and you can even take storytelling lessons.
  75. Hundred Acre Wood. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, England – Run amok in the forest that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books. Park at Gills Lap.
  76. Beatrix Potter Art. Various locations in England and Scotland – If you’re interested in locations which inspired Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other books, try visiting some of these locations.
  77. Beatrix Potter’s House. Near Sawrey, Ambleside, England – Beatrix Potter’s home is in the Lake District, where her family spent holidays when she was young. She carried her sketchbook everywhere and drew watercolors of what she saw, including little rabbits.
  78. Cadbury World. Birmingham, England – What geek doesn’t love chocolate? Spend a day immersed in the wonderful world of chocolate. It’s a museum, a factory tour and a ride all rolled into one.
  79. Charles Darwin’s Country Home. Down House, Kent, England – Darwin lived here for 40 years. Here he researched and wrote On the Origin of Species.
  80. Letterboxing. Dartmoor, England – Before there was geocaching, there was letterboxing. Go to where it all began.
  81. Children’s North East Book Trail. England – Visit locations from many English children’s books including stories from Lewis Carroll, J.K. Rowling and others.
  82. Seven Stories Museum. Newcastle upon Tyne, England – Visit the first museum in the UK devoted to British children’s books. They actively collect original manuscripts and art from British authors and illustrators.
  83. Museum of the History of Science. Oxford, England – This museum has a huge collection of historical scientific instruments, and it is also a department of the University of Oxford.
  84. Upside Down House. Szymbark, Poland – An unusual house built upside down, but not meant to live in. The owner had a greater message in mind when he had it built. He meant it to be a statement about the Communist era and the direction in which the world was going. Prepare for possible mild seasickness when visiting this site.
  85. Mundaneum Museum. Mons, Belgium – Check out this pre-internet effort to collect the world’s information and classify it based on a system they developed called the Universal Decimal Classification (main link is in French).
  86. Olympic Museum. Lausanne, Switzerland – The museum of the Olympics, on the shores of Lake Geneva! See exhibits on the summer games, the winter games and even things like stamps and coins.
  87. Mendelovo Muzeum. Brno, Czech Republic – Visit the monastery-turned-museum where Gregor Mendel conducted his famous genetic pea plant experiments. Tours include a walk in the garden where the experiments were performed.
  88. The Oceanário. Lisbon, Portugal – This aquarium was the centerpiece of the 20th Century’s last World’s Fair.
  89. State Darwin Museum. Moscow, Russia – Visit the world’s first evolution museum to learn about Charles Darwin and all about evolution, with many animal and plant examples.
  90. Lago Azul. Bonito, Brazil – Translating to “Blue Lake”, this lake is at the bottom of an easy hike, down in a cave. The water is exceptionally clear, deep blue and hosts blind shrimp unique in the world, evolved from when the area was connected with the ocean. In one of the “shallow” parts are some logs, which look just beneath the surface, but which are actually at a 50 foot depth.
  91. Iguassu Falls. Brazil/Argentina border – A gorgeous set of waterfalls and home to rare and endangered species. It has been a World Heritage Site since 1984. I’ve heard that there are some astonishingly beautiful songs from the whistling cicadas there, at least in December. If anyone goes and can record the songs, please contact me!
  92. The Library at Alexandria. Alexandria, Egypt – Dedicated to the promotion of tolerance, dialogue and learning, this new library has something for everyone. They have special areas for children, youth and the blind and visually impaired.
  93. Kauri Trees. Waipoua Forest, Northland, North Island, New Zealand – Visit the giant kauri trees, who stand in one of the most gorgeous forests on the planet.
  94. Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand – This national museum of New Zealand is free to get in, and has some very interesting exhibits, such as cultural history including the Maori, natural history, art and many others.
  95. Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours. Matamata, New Zealand – Tour the remnants of Hobbiton in the Shire from the Lord of the Rings.
  96. Sweet on Geeks. Everywhere – If you go to Sweet on Geeks, you can search the world for geeky events to attend at any time. That pretty much sums it up.
  97. Geocaching. Everywhere – This is an activity good at any time, in almost any location. Most of you out there know about geocaching, but this is a good reminder to integrate it into your other plans. You’ll add a bit of adventure and nature study to your trip. There are well over 800,000 geocaches around the world, so chances are there is at least one near where you are going. Tip: If you don’t have a suitable GPS, you can also do a low-tech version by just printing out pictures from the location beforehand from Google Earth.
  98. ExpoMuseum. Virtual – This virtual museum details the history of the World’s Fair since its beginnings in 1851 at the Great Exhibition in London, held in the great Crystal Palace. The next World’s Fair will be in Shanghai, China in 2010.
  99. Zero G. Locations vary – Have you ever wanted to experience zero gravity but you don’t have millions of dollars to get NASA to take you? Try Zero G. You’ll get six to seven minutes overall of weightlessness on your journey, and it’s quite a bit cheaper and faster than going to outer space.
  100. Geek Hotels. Locations vary – Stay at a geeky hotel during your travels.

Thanks very much to the many readers and other people who have contributed to this list. You’ve helped me and all our readers discover many a new geeky place to visit on our travels. I’m sure there are plenty of other locations out there that would appeal to geeks and our kids. Feel free to list more in the comments!

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