World’s Top 10 Vacations for Science Geeks

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Can’t get enough of all things science? Go beyond the usual, and forget about watching all of those documentaries at home. Instead, check out these amazing destinations that are ideal for the science geek in you. From an epic stargazing spot in Chile to a lava spill in Hawaii and a natural phenomenon in Norway, these are the top vacation spots around the world for geeks.

Atacama Desert, Chile
Milky Way

Atacama Desert, Chile

Thanks to its ideal location near the Earth’s equator, Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the world’s best places for stargazing, and for marveling at the Milky Way. This top destination in Chile and 600-mile stretch of dry, isolated desert in the northern region of the country sits at a high altitude and nearly always has crystal-clear skies and little rainfall that make for unparalleled stargazing opportunities. Various tours run stargazing excursions, and there are hotels with special packages for exploring the desert by night. During the day, you can check out out-of-this-world landscapes too. The desert is home to Calle de la Luna, which translates to “Valley of the Moon.” The giant sand dunes and stone formations mimic the surface of the moon, giving the area its name. It’s the result of centuries and centuries of floods and winds across the sand and stone in the region. The uniquely beautiful color of the landscape is caused by the way the salt formations reflect the sun, in an ever-changing spectrum of fiery red, yellow, green and brilliant blue shades.

Kilauea Volcano - Big Island, Hawaii
Kilauea, Hawaii

Kilauea Volcano - Big Island, Hawaii

What science geek wouldn’t want to watch fiery molten lava spill from the Earth? You can do just that by visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, witnessing the landscape that changes before your very eyes. The eruption of Kīlauea, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, puts on a spectacular show. Located on the Big Island, it’s been erupting since 1983 and it’s one of the most well-known places for volcano tourism. The chance to watch the primal process of creation and destruction as well as to learn more about how the Hawaiian Islands were formed, makes it one of the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii.

Galileo Museum - Florence, Italy
Galileo Museum

Galileo Museum - Florence, Italy

Florence offers something for everyone from amazing art museums and shopping opportunities to historical palazzos, churches, and more. For science nerds, the chance to visit the Museo Galileo (Galileo Museum) is reason enough to head to Florence. Devoted to Galileo Galilei, one of the greatest pioneers when it comes to scientific discovery, and founded by the University of Florence, it takes visitors on a journey to the past. You’ll find out everything you need to know about the famous physicist as well as his contributions to the scientific revolution. The museum features many different scientific tools, including navigational instruments and telescopes dating back to the 16th century.

Northern Lights - Svalbard, Norway
See the Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights - Svalbard, Norway

The Svalbard archipelago is set between the Greenland and Barents seas, 1,000 miles from the North Pole, and about three hours by plane from Oslo. The city of Longyearbyen is one of the best places in the world to base yourself for witnessing the spectacle known as the northern lights, with the best chance for viewing them between mid-November and the end of January, a time when the sun never rises.  If you don’t mind braving the chill, there are lots of outdoor adventures offered for enjoying thrills along with the natural light show, including everything from dog-sledding and skiing to snowmobile safaris. Can you imagine gliding along the snow while marveling at the dancing colored lights? A December trip is generally the best bet if your aim is to see the aurora, with the skies not only completely dark, but the month is often rather dry which decreases the chance of cloudy skies that block out the spectacle.

Museum of Science and Industry - Chicago, Illinois
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Museum of Science and Industry - Chicago, Illinois

This Museum of Science and Industry was one of the first and best of its kind in the entire nation. It showcases over 35,000 artifacts and nearly 14 acres of hands-on exhibits, focused on everything from outer space to robots. Some of its most impressive displays include the Science Storm exhibits, where you can step into a wind tunnel, watch a tornado vortex and see how a million tiny pieces of matter can combine to form one giant avalanche. The Fast Forward exhibit examines the possibilities and “what ifs” of the future, such as “What if people could live forever” “What if cars didn’t need gas?” Visitors can also embark on a virtual voyage to outer space, or under the sea in the five-story Omnimax Theater.

Kennedy Space Center - Cape Canaveral, Florida
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center - Cape Canaveral, Florida

Kennedy Space Center isn’t just for kids – after all, who wouldn’t want to step in an astronaut’s shoes and see what it might be like? While the real space shuttles have flown their final missions, visitors can experience what it’s like to take a rocket into the stratosphere on the Shuttle Launch Experience flight simulator. A top attraction in Florida, there are also mission control tours, the opportunity to have lunch with an astronaut – and, even train with one in the family Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) programs, which includes preparing for g-forces and a mock journey to the International Space Station.

Griffith Park Observatory - Los Angeles, California
Griffith Park Observatory

Griffith Park Observatory - Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California’s Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the entire nation. It not only hosts the Los Angeles Zoo, a Greek theater, an equestrian center, and impressive views, but it’s home to the Griffith Observatory.  You could easily spend several hours at the observatory alone, with some of its highlights including the Hall of the Sky and Hall of the Eye, displays exploring the connections between people and space. The observatory stands on a hilltop overlooking the city and also offers visitors the chance to observe the view through telescopes free of charge.  The building itself is also a star attraction, it was featured in the film “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone National Park

America’s first national park, Yellowstone, is also one of its most magnificent. The nearly 4,000-square-mile park is home to more geothermal features, including hot springs, mud spots and geysers, than anywhere else on Earth. You can see one of the most famous, Old Faithful, which shoots steam as high as 185 feet into the sky every 90 minutes, along with many other lesser known geysers as well as mud pots and brilliant multi-colored hot springs like Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the U.S., named for its striking coloration in hues that match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism of orange, yellow, red, green and blue.

Computer History Museum - Mountain View, California
Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California

Computer History Museum - Mountain View, California

A mecca for computer geeks, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California is just a short drive south of San Francisco. It holds one of the world’s largest collections of computing artifacts, including early Cray supercomputers, as well as showcasing some of the stories behind area corporate giants like Apple, HP, Intel, Cisco and Adobe. The institution itself also has a storied history, with its first exhibition held in a converted coat closet in the lobby of an early software vendor, DEC, over four decades ago.

Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay - Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay

Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay - Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico offers the chance to visit the Caribbean even if you don’t have a passport. Plus, it’s home to the Bioluminescent Bay in Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve which features glow-in-the-dark plankton that lights up the water like magic after dark. Guided excursions are available, and if you book the first tour of the evening you’ll get the best of both world’s as it will be dark enough to see the intense blue sparks, but light enough to view the iguanas that enjoy hanging out on the branches as you paddle through the narrow mangrove tunnels toward the bay. Each time you move your paddle, the water looks like a scene from a Disney movie, sparkling like pixie dust.

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