15 Summer Vacation Ideas for Geeks

From Star Trek and Space Camp to baseball minutiae, vintage video games, anime, pirates, Harry Potter and They Might Be Giants, there's a vacation option for any type of geek this summer.

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The word "geek" might still be considered an insult in some quarters, but we know geeks are just regular guys and gals -- who might be a bit too obsessed with electronics and various other intellectual pursuits. As such, here are 15 summer vacation ideas designed for the geek within.

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Comic-Con 2010

When: July 22-25

Where: San Diego Convention Center

A geek's life would be a barren wasteland without a hefty dose of comic books. Yes, attending Comic-Con may require leaving behind the life-sized replicas of Batman and Superman featured so prominently in your swinging bachelor pad, but the reward is clear: four days in sunny San Diego complete with a masquerade, hours of gaming, art exhibitions, film screenings and hobnobbing with luminaries in the comic book field. Attendance reportedly tops 100,000 comic fans each year, making it a potential pick-up spot for geeky singles. Come channel your inner Comic Book Guy, the Simpsons' character who once asked a fair damsel: "How do you feel about 45-year-old virgins who still live with their parents?"

More info: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/

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When: Aug. 5-8

Where: Indianapolis, Ind.

Billed as "the best four days of gaming," GEN CON promises "Hundreds of world-class exhibitors and over 7000 events from RPGs, TCGs, Miniatures, Board and Electronic Games and more!" Last year's show featured a costume contest, and dozens of tournaments for games such as Rock Band, Halo, Street Fighter IV, Gears of War and Super Smash Brothers.

More info: http://www.gencon.com/2010/indy/default.aspx

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When: July 30-Aug. 1

Where: Baltimore Convention Center

Otakon is a giant anime convention with more than 20,000 attendees and staff. Otakon — a combination of the word "convention" and the Japanese word "otaku," — features cosplay, musical guests from Japan, a huge number of fan-made works such as anime music videos, multiple video rooms for watching anime films and a video game room. A Dealers' Room allows publishers and retailers to sell anime and manga products.

More info: http://www.otakon.com/

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Live-action role play

Few happenings fit the geek lifestyle as well as live-action role-playing games, a sort of real-life, costumed version of Dungeons & Dragons. Live-action role play and cosplay events are common throughout the United States and happen all summer long. The main idea, as explained by the LARP Alliance, is to play a character in a story-driven game. Play as human, dwarf or elf in live combat featuring safe weaponry such as foam swords and Nerf guns, or theatrical games that use "rock, paper, scissors" and cards to determine combat outcomes. A huge, weekend-long LARP game is one of the features at Otakon, the conference mentioned in the previous slide, but there are many options for LARP enthusiasts.

List of LARP groups and events: http://www.larpalliance.net

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Space Academy for Adults

Where: Huntsville, Alabama

You might think of little kids when you hear the phrase "space camp," but in fact the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama offers a weekend trip as well as six-day and eight-day programs for adult space enthusiasts, ages "19-99." The advanced sessions include a SCUBA dive underwater astronaut training program, jet-fighter simulators, and a "24-hour Long Duration Mission." We're not sure what the "Area 51 Leadership reaction course" is, exactly, but unfortunately it probably does not include real aliens.

Program information: http://www.spacecamp.com/adult

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SABR Convention 40

When: Aug. 5-8

Where: Atlanta, Ga.

Even geeks who couldn't make the junior varsity team may be drawn to the numerology of baseball, and the statistical revolution launched by the Society for American Baseball Research. Baseball is unique in that nearly every individual action can be recorded as a statistic, and so-called "sabermetricians" have crunched this data to create more accurate measurements of baseball prowess, such as "win shares" and "VORP," or value over replacement player. The 40th annual convention this summer will feature new research including an inquiry into the famous 1964 collapse of the Philadelphia Phillies, and a look at a baseball diary kept by a 14-year-old Michigan boy in 1887. Serious baseball historians may also want to participate in old-fashioned game of "vintage base ball," played with rules and uniforms borrowed from the mid-1800s.

Convention Web site: http://convention.sabr.org/

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Official Star Trek Convention

When: Aug. 5-8

Where: Las Vegas

It's been more than 20 years since William "Captain Kirk" Shatner told a roomful of Trekkies to "get a life" on "Saturday Night Live," but Star Trek conventions are still going strong. Leonard Nimoy and Shatner himself will be among more than 70 special guests at the official convention in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel this summer. Most guest celebrities will take fans' questions while on stage, but the convention Web site has a warning: asking for hugs, telling stars you love them, giving gifts and telling long personal stories while other Trekkies patiently wait to ask a question is "quite self-centered" and unacceptable in this universe.

More information: http://www.creationent.com/cal/stlv.htm

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Lord of the Rings movie tours

Where: New Zealand

If the diminutive Frodo Baggins can carry the One Ring all the way from Bag End to the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor, surely a dedicated "Lord of the Rings" geek can travel to New Zealand to see the breathtaking landscapes where director Peter Jackson filmed the blockbuster trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel. Numerous LOTR-themed tours are available for fans looking to experience the wonders of Hobbiton, Helms Deep and the Misty Mountains.


Hobbiton movie set: http://www.hobbitontours.com/

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Pirate Festivals

When: Throughout ye summer months

Where: Near water, but not quite the high seas

Lily-livered landlubbers, beware! Pirate festivals be occurring in a briny port near ye. Visit the Thieves Market and hear "live pirate music" and canon fire during the Pirate Fest in Evangola State Park in Irving, New York, on July 24 and 25. Or if ye be hankerin' for some great, grand sword fights and the Buccaneer's Ball, you best be navigatin' with yer booty down to the Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend in thar Rock Hall, Maryland on Aug. 14 and 15. Act fast, these pirates be shippin' out soon.

List of pirate festivals: http://www.piratefestivals.com/

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Renaissance Faires

When: Year-round

Where: Nationwide

A Renaissance Faire is the geek's chance to recreate Elizabethan Era England, complete with jousting knights, swordplay, stocks and pillories, costumed parades, and music played with historical instruments. Renaissance Faires are hugely popular and easy to find, occurring regularly in most parts of the country. The Faires are often one-weekend events but larger ones run for extended periods, such as the Maryland Renaissance Festival from late August until the end of October.

Renaissance Faires by state: http://www.renfaire.com/Sites/index.html

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Usenix Security Symposium

When: Aug.11-13

Where: Washington, D.C.

Some of the most cutting-edge computer and network security research is presented at Usenix conferences throughout North America, and the show this August provides a perfect opportunity to combine vacation with the geeky pursuit of computer knowledge. Visit our nation's capital and improve your security posture all at the same time -- how can you go wrong?

More info: http://www.usenix.org/events/sec10/

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They Might Be Giants concert

The musical duo They Might Be Giants has been perfecting geek rock for more than 20 years. The band is composed of two long-time friends named "John," who can often be seen wearing dorky glasses, playing the accordion, and singing songs about birdhouses, puppet heads, dinner bells, palindromes, purple toupees and a place called "cowtown." Ever the showmen, TMBG are touring again this summer and fall, with stops in California and the East Coast.

Tour dates: http://www.theymightbegiants.com/calendar/

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International Center for the History of Electronic Games

Where: Rochester, N.Y.

E3 is over, and CES isn't until January, but in the meantime you can bask in the history of video games at the International Center for the History of Electronic Games in Rochester, N.Y. The museum hosts 20,000 items related to "video games, computer games, console games, arcade games, handheld games, and toys that combine digital and traditional play," making it the "largest and most comprehensive public collection of electronic games and game-related historical materials in the United States." For West Coasters, you might want to check out the Computer History Museum, open year-round in Silicon Valley, offering "one of the world's largest collections of computing artifacts."

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Where: Orlando

The Harry Potter series might technically have been written for kids, but they have appealed to millions of adults as well and now J.K. Rowling's character has been immortalized in his own attraction, as part of Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park, near Disney World. Opened in June 2010, The Wizarding World features three rides including the "Dragon Challenge" and "Flight of the Hippogriff," while recreating the Hogwarts wizardry school, and even a wand shop.

More info: http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/

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When: Sept. 3-6

Where: Atlanta

Dragon*Con is "the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!" the conference Web site proclaims. Featuring a parade, belly dancing, writing workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming and more, the Labor Day weekend Dragon*Con might just be the perfect way for a geek to end his or her summer.

More info: http://www.dragoncon.org/index.php