AAA Travel Tips / Top 9 Places to Get Your Geek On in 2018

Top 9 Places to Get Your Geek On in 2018

Courtesy of National Videogame Museum
By AAA Travel Editors
May 25, 2018
Geeks all over the galaxy are eagerly awaiting a new “Star Wars” land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and “Star Wars” attractions at Disneyland. And Universal Studios, already popular with “Harry Potter” devotees, announced it will collaborate with video game giant Nintendo on new attractions, adding more fun things to do. But you don't have to travel to the theme parks to immerse yourself in geek culture. Here’s a list of AAA Rated® hotels, restaurants and attractions across the country where Steve Jobs wannabes, fanboys and the like can let their geek flag fly on vacation.
MoPOP museum of pop culture
flickr/Josh Grenier
MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture)
Seattle, Washington
(206) 770-2700
Looking for things to do in Seattle? A monorail cuts through this pop culture museum's stunning home, a futuristic mingling of materials that was designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry. While the AAA GEM® attraction's exterior is certainly awe-inspiring, movie geeks will be picking their jaws up off the floor once they get inside. Multiple exhibition galleries showcase rare fantasy, horror and sci-fi film props, such as a goosebump-inducing facehugger from “Alien” and a steely-eyed “Terminator” robot. The expansive repository (formerly known as the Experience Music Project Museum, or EMP Museum) was started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who opened another great draw for geeks in 2012, Seattle's Living Computers: Museum and Labs.
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Pizza, slice, italian / LauriPatterson
Galactic Pizza
Minneapolis, Minnesota
AAA Inspector Rating
(612) 824-9100
While the earth-conscious owners of this Lyn-Lake district pizzeria strive to use organic and locally sourced ingredients as well as recycled or biodegradable packaging, it's the spandex-clad delivery drivers who really set this joint apart from other places to eat in Minneapolis. Eating out? Dressed in superhero costumes, the lighthearted couriers transport the AAA Two Diamond's delicious pies to customers via electric cars. The dine-in experience is just as geektastic: you're given 3-D glasses to read the menu, and the local restaurant is adorned with superhero art.
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Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 897-7626
Immersing visitors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this high-tech, Stan Lee-approved attraction opened in 2016, ties in with the storyline of “The Avengers” movies and is among the top things to do in Las Vegas. A self-guiding mobile app leads you and the other “operatives in training” through S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) headquarters, where interactive displays focus on everything from the effects gamma radiation has on DNA to the molecular makeup of Thor's hammer. The dazzling collection of costumes and props, which includes Captain America's uniform and shield as well as Iron Man's Mark 45 suit, is sure to mesmerize both fans of the hugely successful film franchise and the comics that inspired them.
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Knights and horses in Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament show
Courtesy of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
Buena Park, California
(714) 523-1100
At the longtime attraction, “sword and sorcery” fans enjoy a feast fit for a king or queen in a replica castle, all while burly knights battle to the death (well, not reaallly, as this thing to do in Buena Park is pure entertainment). Although you can get your fill of lance-wielding horsemen and finger-lickin’ good roast chicken at any one of the Texas-based entertainment group’s nine North American locations, the Buena Park arena has a geeky edge as far as fun places to go. In a fight sequence filmed there for “The Cable Guy,” Ben Stiller—the director of the 1996 dark comedy and a self-professed Trekkie—paid homage to “Amok Time,” a noteworthy “Star Trek” episode.
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Moonrise Hotel interior in St. Louis, Missouri
Courtesy of Moonrise Hotel
Moonrise Hotel
St. Louis, Missouri
AAA Inspector Rating
(314) 721-1111
Cool Atomic Age-style furniture and collectibles related to space travel (both real and imagined) fill this AAA Four Diamond boutique hotel, making it among the most interesting places to stay in St. Louis. Cosmic artwork adorns the on-site eatery, Eclipse Restaurant at the Moonrise Hotel, a AAA Two Diamond restaurant whose trendy rooftop bar boasts the largest rotating man-made moon/food places in the world. Though Rosie the robot maid from “The Jetsons” won’t be stopping by to make your bed during your trip, you will be treated to high-tech room amenities like 32-inch plasma TVs plus desks and executive chairs with connectivity panels.
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Video game wall art at National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas
Courtesy of National Videogame Museum
National Videogame Museum
Frisco, Texas
(972) 668-8400
One of the most fun things to do in Frisco, this museum showcases an awesome video game collection amassed by three diehard aficionados. Fortunately for gamers, most of the aging controllers and cartridges aren’t tucked away behind glass. Try to beat your high score in the re-created ‘80s bedroom complete with Pac-Man sheets and a Nintendo Entertainment System, or give your thumbs a workout in the old-school arcade stocked with classics like Donkey Kong and Galaga. Other highlights include a giant hands-on console celebrating the home version of Pong and the interactive Head-to-Head Hall.
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Exterior of Space Aliens Grille & Bar in Bismarck, North Dakota
AAA/Inspector 22
Space Aliens Grille & Bar
Bismarck, North Dakota
AAA Inspector Rating
(701) 223-6220
Allegedly founded by extraterrestrials that crash-landed on Earth, this small chain with locations in North Dakota and Minnesota is known for its out-of-this-world ribs and fire-roasted pizzas. The original, a AAA Two Diamond in Bismarck, opened in 1997 and is among the fun things to do in Bismark. In addition to neon UFOs, life-size alien sculptures, and sci-fi memorabilia and murals, each family-friendly restaurant features a 30-foot-high domed ceiling that allows diners to gaze into “outer space.”
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Superman exhibit at Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois
Courtesy of Super Museum
Super Museum
Metropolis, Illinois
(618) 524-5518
If the Man of Steel is your all-time favorite “caped crusader,” put this small Superman museum/store at the top of your list of what to do. The owner’s insane stockpile comprises more than 20,000 items—everything from action figures to lunch boxes. After scrutinizing the noteworthy assemblage of Clark Kent glasses and blue tights, there are still more fun things to do in Metropolis. Head across the street for a few selfies with the 15-foot-tall Superman statue Metropolis citizens dedicated to the fictional superhero back in the ‘90s. We suggest visiting the Kryptonian-loving small town (look for places to stay in advance) in June, when the fun Superman Celebration event is in full swing.
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Comic book art at Zombie Burger & Drink Lab in Des Moines, Iowa
Courtesy of Zombie Burger & Drink Lab
Zombie Burger & Drink Lab
Des Moines, Iowa
AAA Inspector Rating
(515) 244-9292
Best restaurant with bite? There’s always a long line at the horror-themed Zombie Burger & Drink Lab, a hip AAA Two Diamond serving up “goremet” burgers in the eclectic East Village district. Murals by comic book artist Ron Wagner grace the walls at this place to eat in Des Moines, and the back of the menu features humorous fake newspaper stories with headlines like “Living Man to Wed Undead Girlfriend” and “Zombie Labor, No-Brainer.” Complementing crazy-delicious sandwich creations like “East Village of the Damned” and “The Walking Ched” (if you’re not a mac ‘n’ cheese fan, stay far, far away from this monstrosity) is a selection of bizarre shakes. Our fave? The “Zombie Unicorn,” made with vanilla ice cream, marshmallow cream and Fruity Pebbles.
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