5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To

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{Header photo taken by Richard T. Sutton.}

Note: this article was also published on Tea & Fiction

With thanks for the prompt from The Nerdy Girlie.

When I was younger, my mom had the book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Written as part encyclopedia, part travel guide, it took on the conceit that imaginary places were real, and described everything from Oz to what a Hobbit was. Almost all the entries contained glorious maps of these fictional places, and many of the entries included illustrations as well.

I remember devouring this book, even the entries on places I hadn’t visited yet and ones I tried and never got into. I loved the concept that I could easily find out the details of Narnia and the surrounding area, for example, and learned more about other fictional worlds.

So when I first hear the phrase ‘5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To’, I immediately think of fictional places: Narnia, Hogwarts, Prydain, the Shire, and Discworld. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to travel to any of those places in real life (although I did go to the Kilns, which may very well have been inspiration for Narnia).

The Nature Preserve outside of the Kilns. If that isn’t Narnia, I don’t know what is. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

For real life visits, I decided to discount the handful of places I’ve already been. So, most of London was out (although I would love to go back), as well as the many nerdy places here in Los Angeles. I’ve also visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s final home in Manchester, Mo., and went to Williamsburg, Va., when I was 7. And, of course, I regularly go to a Ralphs for grocery shopping – although I have yet to see any Night Vale creatures there.

First, I want to visit Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which is now the Museum of Pop Culture. I mean – look at that mission statement: “The Museum of Pop Culture is a leading-edge nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture.” How can you be even remotely nerdy about media and not want to visit this place?

My second place I’d like to visit is NASA. While I know that’s a more generic name, I’m talking about visiting either the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, or if I’m lucky the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near me in Pasadena. I will probably never get a chance to go to space, so this will be the next best thing.

The Winchester Mystery House. Photo by Spiel, found on Wikimedia Commons, and used under a Creative Commons license.

Onto a more horror track, now that I’m in California, I’m hoping to find the time and money to go visit the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose for my third place. I’ve known about this house for years (and am forever sad that Supernatural hasn’t found a way to include the place – even as an unnamed reference – in one of their episodes). If you’re unfamiliar with the place, it’s a house built by the widow of the manufacturer of the Winchester mansion. Believing that she was being haunted by all those who had died by the rifle’s hand, she was compelled to keep building on her house in order to keep them away. As a result, the house is filled with some of the most fascinating (and bizarre) architecture, with stairs leading nowhere and doors on the second floor that exit outside.

For my fourth place, I take on the Smithsonian. Yes, I know – as with NASA – that there isn’t just one museum. As with NASA, the space related one (Air and Space Museum) is probably top priority, but I wouldn’t say no to the National Zoo, the Natural History Museum, or the Castle. The others sound great, too, assuming I have the time and energy.

And finally, one of these days, I’d really like to be able to go to San Diego Comic-Con. I’m not a huge con goer – I’m not a big fan of crowds, and they inevitably cost way too much money. This is even if you get press tickets, because you still have to buy your food (con food: truly a phrase with a double meaning), pay for your travel, and how can you go to a con and not come out with a few purchases from the many vendors there? SDCC is the apex of all media conventions, and now that I’m a bit closer it is somewhat more in reach.

If money was no object, I would probably spend my life traveling. I love going to new places and exploring what makes it different as well as what it has in common. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to get to my places.

  • I have SDCC on my list as well. Definitely on my bucket list!

    • Angie Fiedler Sutton

      I want to go more for the experience of going than anything else. Does that make sense? I really hope I can get there this year.

  • Confession: Imaginary places would also be at the top of my list. 🙂 Of the five that you mentioned, I think that the Winchester Mystery House and the Smithsonian would also be on my list. I’m also going to have to do this post…I’m enjoying reading everyone’s answers to this one.