harry potter, hogwarts, film, universal

5 dream travel destinations for comic-book geeks and sci-fi nerds 

Words: Jason Wolf
Photography: Flickr/Josh Hallett

From cosplay cafes in Japan to the ultimate comic book convention in California, here are five universes every nerd needs to visit

For those who like to travel but would rather skip the great outdoors or cultural landmarks in order to discuss superheroes and dragons instead, there are some unique destinations that will keep you and your travel partner happy.

After recently covering the expansive Middle Earth tour in New Zealand, which gives Lord Of The Rings fans a chance to visit iconic locations and sets from the film series, we got to wondering where immutable fan boys of other properties can travel to let their Leia buns down and gleefully immerse themselves in their favourite fictional universe.

Here are some of the world’s most popular travel desitnations for nerds.

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Skywalker Ranch, San Francisco
skywalker, ranch, main house

© Wikimedia

Just north of San Francisco in Marin County is the nerve centre for Star Wars creator George Lucas’s film enterprise, Lucasfilm. It’s mainly used as a post-production facility for cutting-edge sound design and visual effects, but tourists are encouraged to visit the pastoral estate surrounding the workspace, which features memorabilia and props from films like Star WarsIndiana Jones and E.T, as well as lush terrain and opulent furnishings. Exclusivity is championed at Skywalker Ranch, so bask in the ire of your fellow Star Wars fans if you’re lucky enough to get a guided tour of the facilities.

Akihabara, Japan
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© Wikimedia

The Akihabara district of Tokyo is a hotbed for products in anime, video games, Manga, toys and electrical appliances. It has an eclectic offering of new and old-school games and collectibles, many of which are sold for fractions of the cost. Don’t forget to stop for a cup of tea at one of their notorious ‘maid cafes,’ where the staff wear cosplay outfits and will wait on you hand and foot, even though it might feel a bit weird.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando/Los Angeles
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© Flickr/Marco Becerra

OK, so these are at Universal Studios in Florida and California, but they are hands down the best replicas of any fantasy set ever. Harry Potter fans on either American coast can ensconce themselves in the impressively recreated Harry Potter World. Explore Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, which has loads of magic-themed shops and events, and you can even cast spells on props that interact with your novelty wand that has a sensor within it. The focal point of the grounds is the ride within the Hogwarts Castle, an imaginative attraction that’s a hybrid between a roller coaster and a 3D movie.  Universal Studios Los Angeles recently opened the gates to their own Harry Potter World, but the larger site in Orlando still has more bells and whistles.

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Vulcan, Canada
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Though somewhat esoteric, Star Trek die-hards can make the pilgrimage to Canada to visit Vulcan. This small town has a visitor centre that looks like a space station, a hefty supply of Star Trek memorabilia, and they even have a Star Trek-themed parade. The town also frequently holds Star Trek-related contests complete with competitions where you can win costumes and props.

Comic-Con, San Diego
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© Wikimedia

Many towns stage comic book conventions, but the nucleus of nerd culture can be found at the San Diego Comic-Con. Droves of fans in cosplay flood the city each summer for access to treasure troves of memorabilia, costume contests and the chance to meet fellow nerds. The event has become the destination of choice for movie studios and actors to promote upcoming projects. Although it’s gone a little mainstream in recent years, it’s still the ultimate destination for fans of toys, anime, comic books and superhero movies. 

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