Wil Wheaton. (Photo: Getty Images)
For Wil Wheaton, there’s no shame in being nerdy. The “Just a Geek" author celebrates all things science fiction, fandom, pop culture, and news as host of Syfy’s “The Wil Wheaton Project” (Tuesdays at 10/9c).
Having been an actor on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” it’s no surprise to find that Wheaton has traveled for comic and gaming conventions, ultimately bringing home some pretty geeky stuff. “I have a first printing of Dungeons & Dragons that I brought back from the Gen Con game convention a few years ago,” he says. “I saw it and I was like, ‘I must have this.’”
Given that he might just be the coolest sci-guy since Bill Nye, we had to ask: where should fellow science and sci-fi fanatics travel for some, non-mainstream, fun?
In an exclusive interview, Wil shared his top five picks — including one destination he’s yet to visit. And in honor of these space, tech, and educational recommendations, we can’t help but say, “Live long, travel, and prosper.”
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Jason Goldman/Flickr)
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Open House - Pasadena, California
"It gives everyone who is interested in space exploration an opportunity to get an up-close, firsthand look at how we are currently exploring the solar system and what NASA and JPL are looking at in the next 10-20 years. Seeing their mission control, to be where some of the greatest space explorations in our history were controlled, is really exciting. They also have an enormous, clean room where they assemble the spacecraft before they send it to the launchpad. If you’re lucky, you’ll actually see a spacecraft being assembled."
The Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. (Photo: Rick Mach/Flickr)
Meteor Crater - West of Winslow, Arizona
"See exactly what happens when large meteorites impact the Earth. It’s got a great museum, and it’s a heritage site. When people originally found it, they were looking in the lowest point of the crater to try to find remains of the meteorite; decades later some scientists said that the meteorite impacted at the side of the crater. They dug and found it immediately. This is a true geek destination because it actually takes a bit of effort to get there! It’s out in the middle of the dessert. You get to the middle of nowhere and you keep going to the middle of nowhere. If driving Route 66, it’s one of the must-stop destinations along the way."
The Stockholm Public Library. (Photo: Samantha Marx/Flickr)
Your Local Library
"Absolutely a vital destination for anyone who is nerdy or geeky. I can draw from my experience of having a librarian help me pick out a science fiction book in third grade into the career I have today. The main branch of any public library in a major city is going to be amazing. They always have phenomenal architecture and incredible collections. The main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library is amazing: archives of photographs and newspapers and the history of the city. Ten years ago my wife and I were visiting the public library in Manhattan. There were tons of works of art. We walked into a room, and there on display were the original stuffed animals that the real Christopher Robin had that inspired the “Winnie the Pooh” series!
An old missile silo. (Photo: Rubin Starset/Flickr)
Decommissioned Missile Silos - the Midwest
"For a student of history and someone who grew up during the Cold War, it is a very powerful experience. A lot of the shells of the machinery that ran silos are still there, as well as Cold War Era computers that have the guts pulled out of them. The barracks are still there. Had these machines been used, they would have ended life on Earth. Now there are realtors that sell them to be converted into extremely posh living places!”
Chernobyl. (Photo: Jacek Wojciechowski/Flickr)
The City Abandoned After Chernobyl Disaster - Pripyat, Ukraine
"As years went on, the Soviet Union tried to cover it up. This place is effectively locked in on that day — it stopped existing on that day. It has been, in many ways, reclaimed by nature. It’s a place I’ve never been put hope to visit. I’m a history nerd. But you can’t just get in the car and go: there’s a lot to getting there."
Hilary Sheinbaum is a New York-based writer who has contributed to national, regional, and online publications, including USA Today, Marie Claire, ELLE.com, amNewYork, and MensFitness.com.