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This article was published on June 16, 2012

The geek’s guide to traveling the world

The geek’s guide to traveling the world
Harry Mylonadis
Story by

Harry Mylonadis

Harry is a Brand Builder, Thinker, Writer, Tech Geek and most of all passionate about Simplicity. In 2009 he co-founded minimoko to eradicat Harry is a Brand Builder, Thinker, Writer, Tech Geek and most of all passionate about Simplicity. In 2009 he co-founded minimoko to eradicate complexity from brand communications. In 2012 he launched CPU Wars to make tech geeks happy. Connect with him on twitter, email, LinkedIn, Google+ and here.

Summer is here! Get your travelling gear! (Wow, I’m rhyming.) It’s officially June and people around the world are getting ready for their summer holidays. With so many places to visit and so many things to do, every geek needs a guide to get things started. This year, I’ve made it my task to start you off on your holiday search and give you some tips along the way.

Most people will settle for the usual traveller’s guide, which is full of the typical travel attractions and touristy things. As a geek this doesn’t satisfy me. I want to visit places that excite me, make me see the world differently and discover new things. Since covering the entire world would need a book I’ll settle for a few geeky places in the US and Europe.

To get the best tips for our guide we joined forces with the travel experts from to offer you the Ultimate Geek Holidays. Let’s start our journey on the US West Coast and move slowly to central Europe.

Silicon Valley, California

Since the 60s the Valley has been the birthplace of semiconductors, tech giants and has attracted amazing talent. Even though people working in the Valley might look for places to escape, for others it can be a great holiday destination.

What to do:

  • See where it all started for Apple: Steve Jobs and his two partners formed Apple Computer in his family’s garage in Mountain View in 1976. Drive by the house at 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, CA 94024.
  • Another historic garage is where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built their first product. It’s located at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto and although it has been fully preserved it’s not open for public tours. You can still visit to view the garage from the sidewalk and take pictures.
  • With headquarters of companies popping up like popcorn, there are so many great campuses to visit. The Google campus with its massive statues of cupcakes and robots is a great destination.
  • California is home to one of the biggest computer museums: The Computer History Museum located at 1401 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, CA 94043 deserves every geek’s attention. With exhibits like the Babbage Engine, it will satisfy even the most inquisitive minds. The museum also has a great gift shop where you can get gifts for your geeky friends back home. You can even get a copy of CPU Wars, created by yours truly.
  • Geeks like to party and what better way than at one of the many Californian wineries. Remember that if you go for tasting tours you’re not supposed to drink EVERYTHING.
  • Once you’ve finished cruising you can always go explore downtown San Francisco.

Where to stay:

  • If you’re splashing out and looking for something super-upscale then the Four Seasons Silicon Valley with its sexy lit pool, spa and bright modern rooms is for you.
  • For the uber geeks, the Avatar Hotel is waiting. As soon as you arrive the Space Invader inspired sign and robots in the lobby will give you a geeky welcome. The rooms have iPod/iPhone docks, laptop tables and flat screen TVs to cover all your needs. There’s also a heated pool and to top it all off they even do a free evening wine reception.

Washington, D.C.

The hang-out for every US leader, D.C. can satisfy the appetite of every type of geek.

What to do:

  • For the history geek, D.C. is your playground. Everything from the somber (and moving) Holocaust Memorial Museum to the all-encompassing National Museum of American History.
  • For the spy geek, there’s an International Spy Museum! You’ll learn about the world’s most famous spies and their special, super-discreet devices and methods.
  • For the science geek, the Koshland Science Museum (part of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences) is the place to be. Its exhibits range from galleries on global warming to an interactive satellite view of the United States. But wait, there’s more! The National Air and Space Museum has everything a wannabe astronaut could imagine.
  • For the outdoors geek, there is the National Arboretum. Also called “a living museum”, it’s one of the greenest spots in the city. You’ll also find beautiful seasonal plants like cherry trees and azaleas.

Where to stay:

  • Want to stay at a historic spot? Then head to The Jefferson and while you’re there relax at their spa.
  • Don’t care about amenities but want a good location? The Hotel Madera is for you. The rooms are great, the restaurant is a treat and the vibrant neighbourhood location make it a solid choice in Dupont Circle.

New York, New York

Although NYC is known for its fashion and art history, it can also satisfy a geek’s needs.

What to do:

  • The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History is one of a kind. You can catch a simulation of the Big Bang, experience the star projector and view a timeline of 13 billion years in space.
  • If you’re an Apple Geek, then you MUST visit the Apple Store on 5th Avenue and admire its glass cube.
  • For geeky entertainment, there are a lot of hotspots waiting to be found. Two of them are SPiN, a ping-pong bar, and Bowlmor Lanes in the West Village if you’re looking for a boozy bowling game.
  • Don’t miss the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum (in memory of Peter Cooper Hewitt, inventor of the first mercury-vapor lamp in 1901), featuring collections on everything from product to textile design.

Where to stay:

  • If affordability is not an issue for you, then The Mark is the place to stay. A historic hotel, built in 1927, re-opened in 2009 as one of the best contemporary luxury hotels in New York. With colourful and bold interiors you will have a comfortable stay while enjoying food at the restaurant from one of NY’s most famous chefs. Every room will cater to your techie needs and the staff will give you a personalised service.
  • On a budget and looking for a hip vibe? Then the Ace Hotel is your answer. All geeky amenities are on offer like free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and even turntables and guitars in some of the rooms.

Boston, Massachusetts

Home of Harvard and the city where Alexander Graham Bell worked on the telephone, Boston deserves a place on the geek holiday map.

What to do:

  • Roam the streets of Cambridge, home to Harvard University and experience the environment where Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room.
  • Next up is the MIT museum. A place to explore inventions, ideas and innovation through interactive exhibitions.
  • Want another museum? Then head to Boston’s Museum of Science, a very popular geek destination with an IMAX theatre and a planetarium.

Where to stay:

  • Looking for upscale, sleek and a happening lobby bar? Then head to W Boston.
  • For a budget friendly hotel, head to the Courtyard Boston Tremont Hotel. Just one block from Boston Common, it offers comfortable but basic rooms.

London, UK

Moving across the Atlantic we land at my hometown, London. Apart from the well known attractions (hundreds of them spread across London) there are a lot of geeky spots waiting for you.

What to do:

  • The Science Museum is one of the first places to visit. With working steam engines, exhibits from space and anything else you can think of, it can take you a full day to explore.
  • This is a hidden gem that I only learned about a few weeks ago. The Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL is the only remaining university zoological museum in London. It has thousands of species preserved for your exploration.
  • The Museum of London is the place to learn every historical fact about London and watch an interactive display of the great London fire.
  • Visit Old Street to see the famous Silicon Roundabout and roam the streets of East London to discover the best independent coffee shops and restaurants.
  • If you’re a foodie, head over to Borough Market during the weekend to taste food from all over the world. When you’re full you can walk to the London Dungeon, the Britain at War museum and last but not least, the Design Museum.

Where to stay:

  • Want to live in luxury? Then the Cadogan Hotel is for you. Located in Knightsbridge, you’ll have great access to shopping and stay at a historic Edwardian townhouse. They have paid attention to every detail and it even has an original cast-iron gated elevator.
  • For those on a tighter budget, The Grand at Trafalgar Square is for you. A perfect location for you to roam around the city. It even has free access to computers, printers and Wi-Fi.

Paris, France

The Seine, food, romance and one of the most popular destinations in Europe. And it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from London.

What to do:

  • Absolutely have to climb the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889, it’s still remarkable and offers amazing views of Paris.
  • For a more secret viewing point, head to Tour Montparnasse for a spectacular view.
  • Dedicate an entire day to visit the Louvre and learn about world history.
  • For a more macabre experience, visit the Catacombs of Paris. Featuring the remains of about 6 million people, this is a one of a kind experience.
  • You can also indulge in architecture, starting with classic monuments like Notre Dame and finishing with modern buildings at La Défense.

Where to stay:

  • For a Parisian extravaganza, head to Hotel Plaza Athenee. The luxurious rooms and suites, even have views to the Eiffel Tower and come with a lot of amenities. The great location along with its great food, will make your stay unforgettable.
  • Want more Parisian luxury? Then Hotel Du Louvre is our runner up. Conveniently located across the Louvre Museum, you can spend your days there and your evening walking down Rue Saint Honore. The rooms with their floor to ceiling windows are comfortable, bright and modern.
  • Geeks and designers will enjoy staying at the BLC Design Hotel. Its attractive prices, sleek and modern decor are complemented by free Wi-Fi and a great location.
  • Our budget conscious runner up is the Hotel Le Notre Dame. Just steps away from the Notre Dame, you can even get a room with a view to the church and Seine. With an interior designed by Christian LaCroix, this is no ordinary hotel.

Rome, Italy

With a history spanning two and a half thousand years, Rome is the go to place in Italy. You’ll get the chance to walk on the same streets the Romans did and visit some of the most famous monuments in Western Europe.

What to do:

  • Architecture Geeks rejoice. With so many iconic structures, you will have a lot of places to visit. Go explore the ancient Colosseum, the Pantheon, Roman Forum and the Medieval, Renaissance and Neoclassic buildings.
  • The Vatican and Colosseum Museums are 2 of the most visited tourist destinations, make sure you don’t miss them.
  • The foodies can overload with great places to taste pasta, chocolates, gelato and for the coffee geeks, Italy is where espresso was invented.

Where to stay:

  • Just a few steps away from the Colosseum, Palazzo Manfredi has the best location and views in town. Modern rooms and a great rooftop restaurant will make your stay unforgettable. Of course Wi-Fi is available and you can show all your friends how living like a Roman looks.
  • For those on a budget, the cozy Condotti Palace is the place to stay. The simple and warm rooms might be a bit small, but are comfortable and clean. Wi-Fi is of course available so you can stay in touch with the world.

Now that you have a travel guide, here are also some useful tips:

  • Buy a pocket paper map. It never runs out of battery and doesn’t charge you for roaming.
  • Pack at least two travel adaptors and don’t wait until you are at the airport to buy them.
  • Wi-Fi is not always free and widely available in Europe, so don’t count on using your smartphone while on the move.
  • You’re on holiday so try to unplug and recharge your mental batteries!

Diego CervoPincassoSongquan DengDaniel GaleLuciano MortulaPerig via shutterstock