The Traveling Nerd Bucket List

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By Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

 

So you want to see it all and do it all? And you love all things nerdy? Check out our nerdy bucket list, pull out your nerd compass, and decide where your next journey will take you!

1) MIDDLE EARTH

Location: New Zealand

 

Anyone who has seen a Lord of the Rings movie has seen the gorgeous country of New Zealand. The ultimate fan experience awaits the traveling nerd in multiple incredible locations all over the country. Check out a few possible destinations and activities below!

 

*Hobbiton – You can visit the Shire and walk through Hobbiton, all near Matamata. Take a photo at Bilbo’s gate or stand under the party tree. Walk the paths of Hobbiton and even explore a Hobbit hole or two. Check out Hobbiton Tours (www.hobbitontours.com) and take a look at their daily tours ($80, including a drink at The Green Dragon and transportation to and from the site) or their evening banquet tours ($200, including a drink and dinner at the Green Dragon and transportation to and from the site).

 

*Wellington – Take a tour to several local LOTR filming locations and the Weta Cave with Rover Rings Tours (www.roverringstours.co.nz). Offering ½ day tours for $95 or full day tours for $190, you can travel in small groups to several locations (such as Rivendell and the road where the Hobbits gathered mushrooms) from the LOTR movies, enjoy an included lunch (and afternoon tea), and a tour through Weta Cave. Guides will even help you and your new tour friends re-enact scenes for memorable photos along the way!

 

*Tongariro Alpine Crossing – If you want to hike up Mt. Ngauruhoe (which Mount Doom in Mordor was based on), check out Tongariro Expeditions (www.tongariroexpeditions.com). The path is free to walk, but generally requires a shuttle to get to and from the trail (which Tongariro Expeditions offers at $65 for a round trip along with equipment rentals available if needed). This particular trip is not for the faint of heart, as it is generally 7-8 hours of fairly strenuous hiking and passes through an active volcanic area.

2) LEGOLAND

Locations: Denmark, California, Windsor, Germany, Malaysia, Florida

 

LEGOs bring joy to both children and adults alike, and LEGOland in any location does the same. Most are familiar with the LEGOland in California, close to San Diego (www.legoland.com). But for an international LEGOland trip, the die-hard fans can visit the original park in Billund, Denmark. This park opened in 1968 and was built next to the original LEGO factory. Denmark’s LEGOland is the largest tourist attraction in the country aside from Copenhagen. It sports more than 60 million LEGO bricks throughout the park, along with several roller coasters and rides, and various attractions (such as Miniland, Legoredo Town, Pirate Land, etc.)

 

For more information about the park and resort in English, check out www.legolandbillundresort.dk.

3) OMSI – LEGO ART OF BRICK EXHIBIT


Location: Portland, OR

 

Speaking of LEGOs, OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) will be revealing the world’s largest LEGO display on February 18, 2017. There will be more than 100 different works on display, ranging from a 20 foot long T-Rex skeleton to a LEGO Mona Lisa.
 
Tickets (which will include museum admission) are going for $19.75 for adults, $13.50 for children, and $15.00 for seniors. (Even better, Oregon has no sales tax!) For more information, visit OMSI’s website at www.omsi.edu or the Art of Brick Exhibit website (www.brickartist.com).

4) THE ODYSSEY


Location: Paris, France

 

Paris may be known for art and other attractions, but if you find yourself in the Latin quarter of the city, grab a bite to eat at The Odyssey. The creperie offers Star Wars décor and a Star Wars themed menu. But the nerd train doesn’t stop there. You can order crepes with Star Wars names or crepes with names based on other geeky fandoms, such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica, etc.

 

For more information you can follow The Odyssey on Facebook or Instragram, or check out their website (Fair warning, it’s in French.) at www.restaurant-odyssey.fr.

 

5) MIDTOWN COMICS


Location: New York City, NY

 

You can go to New York City for the shows, the food, and the sights. But while you’re in Times Square, you might as well go to one of the largest comic book stores in the world (and the largest in the United States). Midtown Comics has 3 locations now, but their first in Times Square is well worth the visit. During your comic book shopping spree, grab some photos of the building as well, since it served as the exterior of the Daily Bugle newspaper in Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman” films.

6) METROPOLIS


Location: Metropolis, IL

 

Known officially as Superman’s Hometown, take a trip to the southern tip of Illinois and stay in Metropolis! The town is full of Superman themed restaurants and businesses, but that’s not all. Take a picture with the 15 foot tall statue of Superman in downtown, in front of the courthouse. Grab the local newspaper, The Metropolis Planet, named after The Daily Planet, where Clark Kent works as a reporter.

 

One of the largest Superman themed collections can be found in Metropolis at the Super Museum. Open 7 days a week (excluding major holidays), you can view more than 20,000 pieces in the collection (with items such as Superman toys, movie and television props, and costumes), for the low price of $5 per person. For more information about the museum, check out their website at www.supermuseum.com or follow it on Twitter (@supermanmuseum).

 

Take a special trip to Metropolis this summer, June 8-11. Every year during the second weekend of June, Metropolis holds “The Superman Celebration” which draws comic book fans from around the world. For more information and a schedule for this year’s celebration, go to the website, at www.supermancelebration.net.

7) VULCAN


Location: Alberta, Canada

 

The city of Vulcan is in southern Alberta and is the official Star Trek capital of Canada. The Tourism and Trek Station in Vulcan has more than 800 pieces of memorabilia in the collection you can view. It also provides unique photo opportunities with items like an Enterprise replica and you can also explore a virtual reality Star Trek based game.

 

Don’t just stop at the Tourism and Trek Station. In 2013, the Trekcetera Star Trek Museum opened. And the town itself has several Star Trek themed murals, signs, and establishments.

 

Make a special trip to Vulcan this summer on July 22 and 23 for Vul-Con! Tickets are currently on sale ($15 per day, or $25 for the weekend), and can be purchased at www.vulcanconvention.com or at the door (unless you want a VIP or special dinner pass). Details about celebrity guests, events, and scheduling are coming soon!

8) SHERLOCK HOLMES SITES


Location: London, England

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave us Sherlock Holmes, and 221b Baker Street has been preserved as a bit of a landmark (and a museum) because of it! Open every day of the year (excluding Christmas), you can visit one of the world’s most famous addresses for £15 per adult. Visit the website for more information about this museum! (www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk)

 

While you’re in London and on a Sherlock Holmes kick, take a ½ mile walk north east of the Sherlock Holmes Museum and head up North Gower Street. You’ll be able to visit the filming location for 221b Baker Street from BBC’s “Sherlock” (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) and you can even grab a bite to eat at Speedy’s Café!
 
If you’re feeling ill while scouting our Sherlock Holmes sites, swing by Smithfield Infirmary, where Watson and Holmes first met (in the books as well as the BBC series).

9) HARRY POTTER SITES


There are so many great locations and sights to see associated with Harry Potter, all over the world. Fans of the books and movies can get their nerdy kicks in several different ways. Check out a few of them below!

 

*Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Location: Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA & Orlando, FL

Grab your Hogwarts letter and head out to visit the world of Harry Potter! You can go to the location at Universal Studios in Orlando, or you can visit the newly opened Harry Potter attraction in California. Whatever coast you find yourself on, you can enjoy the magic!

 

Prices for the Hollywood park range from around $100-350 per day for adults, depending on the kind of experience you want (general, VIP, front of line, etc.). You can explore Hogwarts Castle or enjoy the Triwizard Tournament Spirit Rally or a performance by Hogwarts students and their accompanying frogs. There are several thrilling rides through various parts of the Potterverse. And don’t forget to stop by Ollivanders to get a wand!

 

If you’re in the Orlando area, wander through shops and establishments in Diagon Alley and then catch the Hogwarts Express train to the other Universal Studios park to explore Hogwarts Castle and grab a butter beer at Hogsmeade’s Three Broomsticks before you check out the surrounding neighborhood. You’ll find several roller coasters and family friendly rides to enjoy at the park. For park-to-park 1 day admission, tickets start at $155 for adults.

 

*Scotland

If you love Harry Potter, Scotland is the country to visit! While the movies appear to take place in England, you’ll find several sites in Scotland that inspired the stories you can read and watch!

 

First, explore Edinburgh and Harry Potter associated sites! Walk around the city and see the café where J.K. Rowling penned the first book. Wander through Greyfriar’s Kirkyard (a beautiful and non-creepy graveyard) to see some familiar names of your favorite characters, and take photos of George Heriots School (upon which Hogwarts was based), and much more. Check out www.pottertrail.com to get more information about their free Harry Potter walking tours in Edinburgh. Your guides will dress up as wizards and you might even get to carry a wand for some tricks and fun!

 

When you’re ready to move around other parts of Scotland for more Harry Potter amusement, check out the Harry Potter “Magic” tours at www.touringscotland.co.uk/themed-tours/harry-potter-tours/. You may repeat some sights in Edinburgh, but then you’ll have the opportunity to visit Alnwick Castle and take a flying lesson. You’ll also get to see Glencoe and Glen Nevis, both filming locations for the Harry Potter films and even get to cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig. This train is the inspiration for the Hogwarts Express! (But make sure you visit between May and October for this particular tour!) Prices and exact itineraries may vary, based on your special interests! Customize the Harry Potter tour of a lifetime!

10) NERD HQ AND COMIC CON


Location: San Diego, CA

 

The Holy Grail of all nerdy travel lists absolutely must be the San Diego International Comic Con, the largest international comic book convention in the world! There is no better place to get your nerd on and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. From panels to signings and photo ops and even standing in lines with fellow fans, San Diego Comic Con never fails to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience for whatever you’re interested in! 130,000 other attendees and multiple satellite events are living proof that the convention is worth a try! This year the convention is July 20-23, with Preview Night on July 19. Be sure to be on the lookout for the opportunity to get your passes soon! And if you don’t have a Member ID yet, go to www.comic-con.org and get the process started!

 

If you’ve never been to SDCC before and you’ve finally gotten passes, make sure to check out the Toucan Blog (www.comic-con.org/toucan) for information and tips before heading out. (Believe me, there’s some useful information there!) And once you’re at the convention, download the SDCC app (available for iOS and Android systems) for scheduling and information ready at your fingertips!

 

And let’s be honest… if you’re in San Diego for the convention, it is also in your best nerdy interests to visit Nerd HQ. Nearby neighbor to the enormous convention center, visit The New Children’s Museum for Nerd HQ. Entrance to the event is free, where you can play games and try newly released tech. While you’re there, get in line for a “Smiles for Smiles” photo op with your favorite celebs or get tickets to a small panel of your favorite stars for “Conversations for a Cause.” All the proceeds from these activities go to the charity Operation Smile! Before the event, don’t forget to download the Nerd HQ app to stay up to date on activities and events.

 

There you have it! Top 10 nerdy travel destinations and journeying ideas. Pack your bags, buy your tickets, and head on your way!


    6 Comments

  1. AllyMay 1st, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Hi! Trekcetera actually closed in September 2016, to prepare to relocate to Drumheller, Alberta. Vulcan is still a fun time for any Trek fan, though, especially for their con!

  2. Sharlene GlennieMay 1st, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I live across the ditch from Hobbiton but still haven’t visited – need to remedy that.

    Been to a few of the others though, but definitely need to go back to Paris for the Star Wars cafe 💛

  3. Sarah SmithMay 1st, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Wow! What a list!! Hoping to get to SDCC (or NerdHQ at least) to celebrate my 40th birthday in July 2020. Fingers crossed, it’s a long way from Melbourne.

  4. DaniMay 2nd, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Oh my gosh! love everything published here! This is pretty much 90% of my bucket list. Went to Harry Potter world 2016 and LOVED it so much I’m going back in 2018. comic con and Nerd HQ is my goal for next year since I missed out on comic con tickets this year

  5. JuliusMay 2nd, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Rename Comic Con to Stand in line for Hall H Con.

  6. Greg CMay 6th, 2017 at 9:36 am

    As a resident of San Diego the weekend of comic con is my favorite of the year. It’s always exciting to see the city dressing up the week before and even though I rarely have a ticket inside the convention itself, the spillover around the city is enough to occupy a person for at least a day or two.

    Thanks Nerd HQ for being a place where I don’t need a badge to get in.

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