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Best Summer Vacation Ideas for Science Fiction Fans
Pack your bags, science fiction fans! It's time for summer vacation, so here are seven ideas on how to bring some sci-fi into your travel plans.
Whether you're looking to mingle with other science fiction buffs, immerse yourself in an imaginary world, or get out into nature, there's a sci-fi destination that's right for you.
Summertime is packed full of science fiction and comic book conventions, for those who would like to mingle with other sci-fi fans. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the "Star Trek" franchise, and there are multiple Trek-specific conventions and meet-ups happening around the country. Plus, a traveling museum exhibit lets fans attend Starfleet Academy for a day.
"Star Wars" fans should seriously consider visiting an exhibit of real costumes worn by actors in all seven franchise movies. In addition, Disney's theme parks have been jam-packed with "Star Wars" elements ever since the release of the latest movie installment in 2015. And read on to find out about other science-fiction-related museum exhibits to check out this summer.
For fans seeking a more outdoor-focused summer expedition, here are a few destination suggestions: Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming, which served as the iconic mountain from Steven Spielberg's landmark science-fiction movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; Barringer Crater (also known as Meteor Crater) in Arizona, where key scenes were shot for the science fiction love story "Starman"; and the Very Large Array, which played a key role in the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel "Contact."
NEXT: Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of "Star Trek"
Best Summer Vacation Ideas for Science Fiction FansSlide 2 of 15
Best Summer Vacation Ideas for Science Fiction Fans
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of "Star Trek," one of the greatest sci-fi franchises ever created. There will be lots of ways to celebrate the Trek-verse this summer, in locations all over the country — even if all you can manage to do is go see the newest movie installment, "Star Trek Beyond," due out July 22.
Attend a "Star Trek" Convention
"Star Trek" conventions are nearly as old as the franchise itself, and there are multiple convention events in the U.S. this year. A complete list of dedicated Trek conventions, as well as general science fiction and comic book conventions (where Trek fans can also unite), can be found at treknews.net. Official "Star Trek" conventions will take place in Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Cherry Hill (New Jersey) in August, and in Chicago in September.
Star Trek: Mission New York comes to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City from Sept. 2-4. The convention will be the "ultimate destination for 'Star Trek' fans, filled with interactive exhibits, exclusive merchandise, celebrity guests, panels, screenings and much more," according to the event website.
Fans of science fiction in general may want to consider attending a comic book or science fiction convention this summer. The mother of all such conventions, Comic Con International in San Diego, is taking place July 21-24, but passes are sold out for 2016. If you're interested in attending Comic Con next, year now is the time to register. Check the following links to find out about other comic book conventions and sci-fi conventions.
Attend Starfleet Academy
A highly interactive Star Trek experience can be found at two museums this summer. "Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience" is a very special traveling exhibit that lets visitors attend Starfleet Academy, the alma mater of Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, Mister Spock and just about every other central character in the "Star Trek" TV shows and movies.
"The exhibition offers visitors the chance to experience life as a Starfleet Academy cadet as they attend the Academy's Career Day in the 26th century," according to a statement from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, where the exhibit will appear starting July 9 (the closing date has not been announced).
Under the United Federation of Planets, Starfleet is the organization responsible for deep-space exploration, peacekeeping, defense and diplomacy.
"After student orientation, cadets will visit nine zones focused on the training center's specialties: language, medical, navigation, engineering, command and science," the statement said. "Following these interactions, cadets will be assigned a specialty and a demeanor based on their individual training."
The exhibit opens at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM) in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 26 and remains open through Sept. 5.
NEXT:New York City's Science Fiction Triple PlaySlide 3 of 15
Visit NYC for a Science Fiction Triple PlaySlide 4 of 15
Visit NYC for a Science Fiction Triple Play
The Big Apple is a hive of sci-fi fun this summer. There are three science-fiction-related museum exhibits that will be on display: an exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image featuring concept art created in the 1960s for "2001: A Space Odyssey"; a massive "Star Wars" costume exhibit, spanning all seven films, in Times Square; and the interactive "Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience" at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (already mentioned in the last slide).
"2001: A Space Odyssey" at the Museum of the Moving Image
If you do visit New York this summer, consider taking a trip to Queens to visit the Museum of the Moving Image.
Through Aug. 14, the museum will host an exhibit called "To the Moon and Beyond: Graphic Films and the Inception of 2001: A Space Odyssey." In 1965, a production company called Graphic Films "conducted research and created concept sketches for Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey,'" according to the museum website.
"This exhibition features rarely seen artwork created by Graphic Films for '2001: A Space Odyssey,' and correspondence between the company and Stanley Kubrick," the exhibit description reads. "It includes more than 20 detailed sketches for a lunar base and space vehicles; correspondence with script and design suggestions and technical advice; as well as an early draft of the script for the film."
The exhibit is open through Aug. 14.
In addition to this special exhibit, the museum is a fantastic destination for movie buffs. The museum's massive collection of costumes, artifacts and merchandise includes a smattering of items from various science fiction films, plus various interactive exhibits and multiple movie screenings each day.
Star Wars and the Power of Costume
Another traveling exhibit on display in New York City this summer is "Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume."
Fans of the "Star Wars" franchise will be thrilled to see the real costumes used in all seven films (for a sneak peak, check out our photo gallery from the exhibit). There's Boba Fett's banged-up armor; Chewbacca's hairy exterior; various Sith and Jedi robes; and dozens of intricately made dresses worn by Queen Amidala in the three prequel movies.
As icing on the cake, the exhibit also explores how the final products evolved from early ideas. There are early sketches of costumes and characters, as well as real-world historical references made in the movies, like the orange jumpsuits worn by Mercury 7 astronauts that inspired the orange jumpsuits worn by members of the Rebel Alliance.
The exhibit is on display at Discovery Times Square until Sept. 5.
"Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience"
As was mentioned in our suggestions for "Star Trek" fans, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is hosting the traveling exhibit "Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience." The interactive exhibit gives visitors a chance to attend Starfleet Academy, the alma mater of Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, Mister Spock, and just about every other central character in the "Star Trek" TV shows and movies.
"Cadets will visit nine zones focused on the training center's specialties: language, medical, navigation, engineering, command and science," according to a statement from the museum. "Following these interactions, cadets will be assigned a specialty and a demeanor based on their individual training."
The Intrepid is already one of our favorite NYC destinations because its houses the Enterprise space shuttle, as well as many other awesome artifacts from the history of spaceflight and aviation.
The exhibit opens in New York City starting July 9; the closing date for has not been announced.
NEXT: Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction Exhibit in Seattle.Slide 5 of 15
Visit Devil's Tower from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'Slide 6 of 15
Visit Devil's Tower from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'
In Steven Spielberg's 1977 science-fiction epic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," a man named Roy Neary has a run-in with a UFO, and subsequently experiences a strange obsession with a flat-topped mountain he's never seen before. Neary soon finds out he's not the only one who can't get the mountain out of his head.
It's no wonder Spielberg chose Devil's Tower as the object of a mysterious infatuation in the movie — the natural formation has an extremely strange (even alien) appearance. Its slopes rise gradually at the base, then shoot up almost vertically. Free of vegetation, the sides appear to be streaked with long, thin rocks that look almost like massive, stone spaghetti. Geologists agree the structure was probably formed by "the forcible entry of magma into or between other rock formations," according to the National Parks Service website, but there is still debate about how exactly the process took place.
Located in northeastern Wyoming, Devil's Tower National Monument is open year-round. Prime activities in the area include hiking, rock-climbing the tower, stargazing, and cross-country skiing. The monument is the starting point of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which takes place in the first week of August. Stop by the visitor's center to learn about the history between the monument and the native people who have lived in the surrounding area.
NEXT: Visit Meteor Crater from "Starman."Slide 7 of 15
Explore the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction Exhibit at the EMP Museum in SeattleSlide 8 of 15