36 Surprisingly Nerdy Things to do Now in Philadelphia

Are you in need of a break from your usual routine of coding, gaming, and binge-watching sci-fi movies? Well, it’s time to ditch the computer and put your problem-solving skills to the test as you explore the exciting city of Philadelphia.

From exploring the vast collections of world-class museums to indulging in specialty shops and immersive science fiction experiences, this city has it all. So put on your favorite geeky t-shirt and get ready to nerd out with our top 36 nerdy things to do in Philadelphia.

All activities are within two hours from the city proper:

Interest-Based Nerdy Travel Experiences

Standard Travel Needs – Nerdy Style

About The Author

Hi, I’m Kate.

I started planning unique travel experiences way back in 2008.

And I quickly realized that quirky, nerdy experiences were going to be a big part of my travel planning success.

So I set out to explore as much as I could.

And thanks to years of reading and experimenting, I’ve had a ton of success with travel planning…

…including the top 3 performing nerdy guides on this site:

  1. Nerdy Experiences in Washington DC
  2. Unique Experiences in San Diego
  3. Ultimate Guide for Nerdy Travel Accessories

Check out these ideas in Philadelphia and you could have an awesome trip planned within the next 20 minutes.

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What are the Top Nerdy Experiences Unique to Philadelphia?

1. Best Nerdy Comedy Show: The Mask and Wig Club

If you’re looking for a wild night out in Philadelphia, the Mask and Wig Club is the place to be! This quirky musical comedy group from the University of Pennsylvania has been entertaining audiences with their outrageous productions for over 100 years in their classy 1800’s clubhouse which historically served as a church, a stable and carriage house, and dissecting rooms for Jefferson Medical College.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic musical or a zany sketch comedy show, the Mask and Wig Club has something for everyone. Join the fun! You’ll leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

2. Best Nerdy Way to See the City: Badass Women’s History Walking Tour of Philadelphia

Harriett Tubman

Ladies, don’t think this tour is just for you! Fellas, come on down too!

Learn the history of Philadelphia’s forgotten female heroes in some of the most popular parts of the city. From the “forgotten founder” Hannah Callowhill Penn, to the prominent “conductor” of the underground railroad, Harriet Tubman, these ladies were ahead of their time and paved the way for future generations of women.

This tour will give you the opportunity to enjoy historic Philadelphia with a small group (no more than 10 people) while learning about local women who made significant contributions to politics, medicine, and other fields. Participants say its one of the best tours in Philly

3. Best Nerdy Cinematic Experience: The Universal Sphere

This giant, globe theater produced by Steven Spielberg is a must-see for any film-loving visitor to the city. Whether you’re a fan of technology, cinema, or just love gazing up at the stars, the Universal Sphere has something for you.

The best part about the Universal Sphere is that it’s not just a static exhibit – it’s a fully immersive experience. You will be transported through time and space to explore new ideas while watching the presentation, “The Power of I”. The sphere and surrounding exhibit are free to visit, but you typically need to make a reservation in advance.

So if you’re a nerd who loves all things technology and creative, be sure to add the Universal Sphere to your Philadelphia itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!

4. Best Magical Experience: The Cauldron Co. & Wizard Exploratorium

The Cauldron Co. & Wizard Exploratorium is the most magical place in Philly!

Located in the heart of the city, this cozy wizarding potions bar is the perfect spot to cast a spell or two over a cold pint and design the love elixir of your dreams. Be transported into a magical world where you can choose to take a potions making class, explore a townhouse full of magic, enjoy an enchanted afternoon tea, grab a spellbinding snack, or attend a local event.

The atmosphere is enchanting, with flickering candles and bubbling cauldrons scattered throughout the space and the staff is incredible.

Gather your friends, grab your wands, and head on over to The Cauldron for a night of magic and merriment!

Recommended: Ultimate List of Harry Potter Travel Accessories

5. Best Nerdy Local Food: Philadelphia Bread

Sounds crazy, but Philadelphia locals swear that they have the best bread in the world. Definitely the type of claim that needs to be tasted tested in person. Right?

There are tons of delicious bread joints to try, however these are the best spots according to Google reviews and to be honest they are all fantastic!

6. Best Mysterious Experience: Genie’s Secret Bazaar Philadelphia: An Exploratory Magical Adventure

Step into a world of charm and wonder at Genie’s Secret Bazaar Philadelphia: An Exploratory Magical Adventure!

This unique and immersive experience will transport you to a mysterious realm where anything is possible. As you explore the bazaar, you’ll encounter all sorts of enchanting sights and experiences, from carnival games and illusions, to fortune tellers and mystical creatures. The delicious food vendors, beer from a local brewery, and grand finale will have you dancing into the streets!

Whether you’re a fan of magic or just looking for a fun and unforgettable adventure, you’ll definitely want to check out Genie’s Secret Bazaar. Its fun for all ages, so come and let your imagination run wild at this magical bazaar in Philadelphia!

7. Best Fusion Drink Shop: The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop

Welcome to The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop, a peaceful hangout where positive energy and novelty come to life! Nestled in the heart of downtown, this quirky little shop is the perfect spot for anyone with an appreciation for the weird and wonderful.

With its cozy atmosphere and charming decor, you’ll feel right at home as you browse through the collection of curiosities while sipping on steamy, fresh brewed tea. From rare antiques and one-of-a-kind gifts to an international selection of teas and an Herbal Apothecary & Bump Bar, there’s something for every heart & soul at The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop.

8. Best Themed Escape Room: The Gotham Escape Room

Are you ready for an adrenaline-filled hour of high intensity critical thinking and puzzle solving? If so, it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and break into your escape room!

Or, maybe just the hidden vault behind a bookcase in your escape room.

If you’re new to escape rooms, you will appreciate the solid mix of challenging and fun puzzles. The staff is notoriously friendly, helpful, and willing to give you a tip if you need it.

If you’re a more seasoned escapee, you will be impressed by the expansive & spacious rooms, clever themed puzzles, exciting audio affects, and attention to minute details. No “pre-packaged” rooms here – every room is a labor of love!

Be aware that if you attempt a more horror themed room, they can feel pretty realistically scary. Don’t book one of those rooms unless you are ready for an unnerving experience!

9. Best Nerdy Natural History: Wagner Free Institute of Science

The Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia is a singular time machine to archaic earth!

This charming museum is filled to the brim with fascinating scientific artifacts and specimens. From ancient fossils and minerals to exotic taxidermy and interactive exhibits, there’s something for every science enthusiast at The Wagner Free Institute.

And the best part? Admission is completely free!

Take a trip down humanity’s collective pre-historic memory lane and discover the wonders of science at The Wagner Free Institute. Although its full of them, this museum is hardly bare bones!

10. World’s Largest DIY Skatepark: FDR Skatepark

Nerds, get ready to break out your skateboards and impress the cool kids at FDR Skatepark! It’s time to show off your mad skate skills and prove that brains and athleticism can coexist.

If that isn’t quite the case for you, don’t worry about falling, just remember the age-old nerd motto: “failure is just an opportunity to learn and improve.

Located below the I-95 flyover, FDR Skatepark boasts over 30,000 square feet of ramps, pipes, and half pipes. The park is divided into many areas, including the central park, which is located beneath the noted overpass, the adjacent and linked pool area, a small ramp, and a vert ramp.

It is decorated with a dynamic assortment of tags and artwork that creates a captivating visual experience. Professionals and writers for publications like Thrasher and Skateboarder have called the park a concrete skateboard heaven.

So grab your helmets and knee pads, and let’s hit the ramps! Just try not to get too distracted by all the flashy graffiti and rad music blasting from the speakers.

Skate on, nerds!

What are the Best Nerdy Local Cultural Experiences?

11. Essential Philadelphia Museums

Philly has a wide variety of museums for culture and education seekers to choose from, these are our favorites:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art – The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art and culture. Located in the heart of the city, this world-renowned museum is home to an impressive collection of over 240,000 works of art, spanning more than 2,000 years of history. From ancient artifacts and classical paintings, to modern sculptures and contemporary installations, the museum has something for every type of art lover. In addition to the permanent collections, the museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions and events throughout the year, making it a dynamic and constantly evolving place to visit.
  • Barnes Foundation The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia is a world-renowned art museum that is home to one of the largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist paintings in the world. The collection, which was amassed by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, includes works by artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. In addition to the paintings, the Barnes Foundation also has an impressive collection of African sculpture, decorative arts, and furniture. The museum is housed in a beautiful building that was designed by architect Paul Cret, and it features a series of galleries that are arranged according to the principles of “harmonic proportion.”
  • Philadelphia Zoo – The Philadelphia Zoo was founded in 1859 and was the first zoo in the United States. The zoo is home to over 1,300 animals from around the world, including lions, gorillas, and penguins. Visitors can take a walk through the zoo’s various exhibits, such as the Big Cat Crossing and the PECO Primate Reserve, to get up close and personal with the animals. In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo also has a number of educational programs and events, such as animal demonstrations and conservation talks.
  • Rodin Museum – The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia is a stunning architectural masterpiece that houses a vast collection of works by the renowned French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. The museum, which was opened in 1929, is home to over 140 of Rodin’s most famous sculptures, including “The Thinker” and “The Kiss.” The museum’s collection also includes a number of Rodin’s drawings and paintings, as well as works by other artists that were inspired by his work. Visitors to the museum can take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour led by knowledgeable docents.

12. Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal, located in the bustling city of Philadelphia, is a food lover’s paradise!

With over 80 unique vendors offering everything from delicious Amish cooking to mouthwatering dim sum, there’s something for every craving.

But the Terminal isn’t just a place to fill your stomach – it’s also a hub of activity, with live music, cooking demonstrations, and even a mini-market selling locally grown produce.

So if you’re looking for a fun and tasty adventure, be sure to come hungry – trust us, you won’t be able to resist all the amazing eats.

13. The Masonic Temple

If you’re looking to add a little mystery and intrigue in your time in Philly, the Masonic Temple is the best kept secret!

This grand, historical building has been around since 1873, and it’s filled with hidden network of rafters, ornate grand halls, and all sorts of Masonic symbols and artifacts.

But don’t worry, this isn’t some creepy, shadowy place. The Masons are actually a fraternity of men who value education, charity, and brotherhood. They’ve been around for centuries, and their temple in Philly is a testament to their enduring legacy.

So if you’re in the City of Brotherly Love and want to explore a little bit of brotherhood history and mystery, make sure to check out the Masonic Temple.

14. Elfreth’s Alley

Elfreth’s Alley is a historic gem nestled in the heart of Philadelphia. With its cobblestone streets and charming row houses, it’s like stepping back in time. The Alley is home to some of the city’s oldest houses, with some dating back to the early 18th century. But don’t let the age fool you, these houses are still standing strong and are filled with character and charm.

Visitors can take a stroll down the Alley and imagine what life was like in colonial America. It’s easy to get lost in the quaint atmosphere, with charming gardens and colorful storefronts. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a resident dressed in colonial garb, adding to the historical atmosphere.

But Elfreth’s Alley isn’t just a museum piece. It’s a thriving community, filled with artists, craftspeople, and small businesses. The Alley is home to a number of unique shops and galleries, offering everything from handmade pottery to vintage clothing. It’s the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts or to treat yourself to something special.

Overall, Elfreth’s Alley is a must-see for anyone visiting Philadelphia. It’s a little slice of history that brings the past to life in a fun and charming way.

15. Eastern State Penitentiary

If you’re a fan of creepy, abandoned prisons, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is definitely the spot for you! This abandoned prison is known for its ominous architecture and notorious inmates such as Al Capone & ,”Slick Willie” Sutton.

While you’re there, you can explore the cellblocks and check out the prison’s famous solitary confinement cells. And if that’s not sinister enough for you, there are also several ghost stories associated with the penitentiary, making it a must-see for any paranormal enthusiast.

But don’t worry, the Eastern State Penitentiary isn’t all spooks and scares. The prison also has a rich history of being one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world.

So if you’re looking for a mix of history and scares, the Eastern State Penitentiary is the perfect place to visit.

16. Independence Hall & The Liberty Bell

Independence Hall is where America’s founding fathers gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence, paving the way for the birth of the United States as a nation.

The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of freedom because it was rung on July 8, 1776 as a beacon for Americans to come hear the Declaration of Independence rung for the first time. It also has a giant crack running through it, but that just adds to its charm.

Together they are a dynamic duo of American heritage and patriotism.

What are the Best Nerdy Theater, Film & Shows?

17. Secret Cinema

The Secret Cinema is a pop-up film experience that has presented hundreds of original programs in places all over Philadelphia: nightclubs, bars, coffee shops, museums, open fields, colleges, art galleries, bookstores, and occasionally even theaters and film festivals.

Since it began in 1992, the Cinema has focused on programs devoted to educational and industrial films, cult and exploitation features, cartoons, rare television, local history, home movies, erotic films, politically incorrect material, and the occasional Hollywood classic.

The goal is to explore uncharted film territory and genres that fall between the cracks. Secret Cinema never uses video/digital projection during screenings—as long as it is available on actual film, that is.

18. Movie Filming Locations

Philadelphia is home to the filming locations for a bunch of amazing movies and TV shows. If you’re a movie fan, then you’ll definitely want to check out these awesome sites. From iconic fighting flicks to historical themed adventures, there’s something for every type of nerd on this list.

Pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to geek out in the city that works! Just don’t forget to bring your boxing gloves (you know, for extra authenticity).

What are the Best Nerdy Nature Experiences?

19. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Feeling a little artsy? Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are a true, hidden one-of-a-kind mosaic art installation.

Created by artist Isaiah Zagar, the Magic Gardens are a stunning display of color, texture, and whimsy. With everything from murals and mosaics to found objects and folk art, the Magic Gardens are a feast for the senses.

Guided tours are available for you to learn all about the history and inspiration behind this unique creation. So if you’re looking to tap into your inner artist and explore something truly magical, make sure to visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on your next trip to the city!

20. Best Nerdy Childhood Throwback: Oldest Permanent Disk Golf Course

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park houses the oldest permanent disc golf course in the world. Sedgley Woods is a 27-hole course that is FREE to the public, year round from sunrise to sunset.

The Friends of Sedgley Woods, a group that cares deeply about the course, frequently has a member on hand to answer inquiries and take visitors around. If you visit, make sure to take good care of the course!

21. Reading Viaduct

For nearly a century, the Viaduct was an elevated rail track that brought trains into the industrial Center City. It traversed a variety of neighborhoods in the northern area of the city.

Philadelphia City is renovating the Viaduct to serve as a magnet for residential and commercial growth in the nearby areas which have historically been considered to be an “eyesore”. Fans of history, technology, and modernization will love visiting the modernized rail park.

What are the Best Festivals, Conventions, and Live Events in Philadelphia?

22. Philadelphia Science Festival

The Philadelphia Science Festival is a nine-day, community-wide celebration of science that takes place annually in April. Featuring lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for all ages, the Festival aims to provide opportunities for all Philadelphians to positively engage with and build a community around science, engineering, and technology.

What are the Best Nerdy Tours & Classes?

23. The Great Philadelphia Comedy Magic Walking Tour

This comedy walking tour is a real knee-slapper – if you fall for every joke you’ll constantly be stumbling!

Take this one-of-a-kind tour that combines the best of two worlds: hilarious comedy performances and jaw-dropping magic tricks. As you explore the city’s historic streets and landmarks, you’ll be treated to a series of hilarious and mind-boggling performances from some of the best comedians and magicians around.

Whether you’re a fan of stand-up, magic, or both, you’re sure to have a blast on this tour. It’s definitely one of the most fun and unique ways to experience Philly!

24. Cemetery and Cereal Killers Walking Tour of Philadelphia

On this spooky, small-group walking tour of Center City, learn about Philadelphia’s shadowy past and see some of its most iconic structures.

You’ll meet your trained historian tour guide to depart for places like the Betsy Ross House, Elfreth’s Alley, Christ Church, and more. As you see the sights you will hear ghost stories, tales of serial slayings, and psychopathic killers such as the Corpse Collector, the Frankfort Slasher, and H.H. Holmes.

After 2.5 hours of morose tales, sign-off your sorted adventure with a free beverage or moonshine sample. Your choice!

25. Espresso & Latte Art Class

This fun, interactive workshop is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about milk-based drink recipes and sharpen their latte art abilities.

Learn new skills from a barista with years of expertise in the speciality coffee sector at a roastery training lab. You will be fully equipped with tools, brewing equipment, and professional coffee machines to unleash your creative genius.

The studio is conveniently located in the heart of Philadelphia, close to several well-known landmarks and dining options.

26. Food Tours!

If you’re the type to fantasize about eating at places like Paunch Burger and Los Pollos Hermanos, we recommend exploring Philadelphia’s delicious, vibrant, and innovative culinary scene on one (or both!) of two highly popular food tours:

Underground Donut Tour: Philadelphia’s First Donut Tour

Learn more about the city of Philadelphia through the medium of donuts!

You’ll try some of the best doughnut shops the city has to offer: Federal Donuts, Beiler’s Donuts, and other off-the-beaten path shops. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of Philadelphia, each donut location, and how they fit into the larger food scene.

If you like donuts and happiness then this tour is for you.

Philadelphia Cheesesteak Tour by Segway

On this 2-hour guided, small-group Segway tour, discover the Philadelphia cheesesteak like no other before.

This 5-mile tour visits five of the city’s most authentic cheesesteak businesses, where you will learn about the origins of this famous sandwich and sample the best cheesesteaks in the city. From Chinatown to Society Hill and South Philadelphia – we’ll cover it all!

All the required equipment, a guided Segway training session, and tour photos are provided. Bring an empty stomach, and dress according to the weather in flat, closed-toed shoes.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Stay?

27. Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Hotel

This stylish boutique hotel between Fishtown and Olde Kensington is housed in a beautifully restored whiskey factory that dates back to 1890. It has just 4 modern apartment-style rooms that are each individually decorated in an industrial-chic style, complete with concrete floors, wooden ceilings, and exposed brick walls.

Luxurious king size beds, custom-made furniture with hand picked artwork, fixtures, vintage rugs, living plants and cacti are all lovely amenities. A great, quaint Italian restaurant and pub with wood paneling and a fireplace can be found on the ground level.

If you take a deep breath, perhaps you can smell the odor of ancient whiskey barrels seeping from the building’s pores, or is that just your imagination?

28. 250 Year Old Home in Rittenhouse Filled with Art

Come stay in a funky, three-story Airbnb in the fancy neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square (free paring included... which might be enough of a reason to book immediately)! This place has a cool courtyard and lots of unique touches like hand-laid flooring, a claw-foot tub, and a chalkboard door. Plus, it’s located in one of the oldest and most prestigious areas of the city, which is home to lots of fun events all year round.

Recommended: How to Decorate a Hotel Room for a Birthday

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Eat in Chicago?

29. Queen and Rook Game Cafe

If you’re looking for a unique nerdy hangout spot in Philadelphia, you’ll definitely want to check out Queen and Rook Game Cafe!

This cozy little cafe is more than just a place to grab a drink and a bite to eat – it’s also a haven for gamers of all kinds. Whether you’re a fan of tabletop games, video games, or just about anything in between, you’ll find plenty to do at Queen and Rook. With a huge selection of games to choose from, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder this place is a favorite among Philly gamers.

So if you’re looking to get your game on and meet some like-minded people, make sure to pay a visit!

30. Pizza Brain

“Go for the World’s First Pizza Museum, stay for the incredible (and strange) pies” – Philadelphia Magazine

This pizzeria is known for its impressive collection of pizza-themed memorabilia, which has earned it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of pizza-related items. From vintage pizza boxes and signs, to pizza-themed board games and action figures, there’s plenty to see and marvel at while you enjoy your meal.

31. Tattooed Mom

Overall, the atmosphere is laid back and energetic, with stickers and doodles adding to the hipster vibe. Enjoy high quality vegetarian and meat-filled options from the ever changing, funky menu.

If you’re looking for something unique and original, head upstairs to find the fortune teller machine and fun interactive art. The entire area is covered in artistic murals and decorations, creating a wacky and edgy atmosphere.

This is definitely a place worth checking out.

Dirty Little Secret Menu – Maybe its manipulation, maybe its love but the secret menu at Tattooed Mom always keeps me coming back for more! There are always new and exciting items to try making each visit a surprising adventure that you’ll just want to gobble up.

Street Art Culture – From the very first tag to the most recent wheat paste, local and international street art has a long history upstairs at TMom’s. An unplanned and spontaneous display of creativity by local and visiting artists as well as the innumerable people who stop by every evening is what makes this gallery constantly change.

No Longer Blank Canvas – The birth of the upstairs as a vibrant art space is in part tied to a 1999 exhibition by brothers Noah & Nathan Rice. That year the Brothers Rice brought their 5,000 umbrella wheat pastes and they’ve been hanging there ever since.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Drink in Chicago?

32. Barcade

Ready to drink, eat, and game all at the same time? Look no further than the Barcade!

This retro-themed bar and arcade is the perfect spot for anyone who loves a good craft beer and a good old-fashioned arcade game. With a constantly rotating selection of brews on tap and a wide variety of classic and modern arcade games, there’s always something new to discover at Barcade. And if all that gaming makes you hungry, you’re in luck – the menu is packed with delicious pub grub that’s sure to hit the spot.

So whether you’re looking to relive your childhood at the arcade or just want to try out some new beers, Barcade is the place to be.

33. Function Coffee Labs

Function Coffee Labs is known for its knowledgeable baristas who bring coffee brewing science to a whole new level. These people are serious about their beans!

The shop also offers a scientific presentation for pourovers (served in beakers) and unique private classes in espresso, pourover & tasting.

Function Coffee Labs is a great destination for coffee enthusiasts who want to learn more about coffee culture and try new brews.

34. Chibi Cafe Co

If you’re a nerdy cafe-goer in search of your perfect hangout spot, look no further than Chibi Cafe Co in Greenville!

This cozy little cafe is the ultimate destination for all types of nerds, with a wide variety of nerdy goodies and activities to enjoy. Whether you’re a fan of anime, video games, or just about anything else nerdy, you’ll find something to love at Chibi Cafe Co. Plus, with a menu full of delicious and unique drinks and snacks, you’ll be able to fuel up while you geek out.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Shop?

35. The Nerd Mall

Nerd Mall is a dream come true for those looking for nerdy goodies. From vintage action figures and rare comics, to the latest and greatest video games and pop culture collectibles, The Nerd Mall has something for every type of nerd & hobbiest.

In addition to buying board games, customers also have the option to rent board games.

36. Brave New Worlds

If you’re in search of your next nerdy fix, then you need to check out Brave New Worlds Comics! This place is a true paradise for all kinds of geeks and nerds, with an impressive selection of comics, graphic novels, and other nerdy goodies.

But it’s not just about the merchandise – the staff at Brave New Worlds are true experts in all things nerdy, and they’re always happy to help you find the perfect comic or recommend a new series.

So whether you’re a hardcore comic fan or just looking to geek out with like-minded people, Brave New Worlds Comics has you covered.

Conclusion

Now you know – Philadelphia isn’t just for beer-swilling sports fans and cheesesteak lovers, although it isn’t bad to enjoy those things either! Philadelphia is a place for techies, retro gaming lovers, and fans of all types. Bring yourself and leave with a little more.

22 Quality Harry Potter Travel Document Holders You’ll Want To Own

Haven’t passed the apparition test yet? Have no fear – muggle transportation can be very accommodating and comfortable. Plus, the chance of vomiting after your journey is extremely low in comparison to most magical forms of transportation.

On your journey, you will obviously need to bring many non-magical items to aid your travel.

However, you may want to subtly indicate your enchanting abilities to other “undercover” members of the magical community. Just in case they happen to hex your airplane or ward off a dementor from your train car.

For that reason, I recommend purchasing a few wizarding world themed items for your travels. If you’re specifically looking for a passport holder then you’re in the right spot!

If you’re looking for other magical items or a comprehensive magical travel items list, see my 25 recommendations here.

I’ve searched the both the wizarding and muggle worlds to find the 22 most interesting, sturdy, and creative passport covers out there. This list is a summary of my top recommendations – no trip to Diagon Alley needed!

How to Use Your Harry Potter Passport Cover

There are a few general ways to use a Harry Potter themed passport cover. You will either use if for standard travel between countries that require passport documentation, or as a transporter & protector of your items at Universal Studios Harry Potter themed attractions.

Harry Potter Attractions at Universal Studios

Universal Orlando – The Hogwarts Express travels between Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. In order to ride it, you have to purchase a 2-park ticket and carry it with you throughout the day. Putting your ticket in a snazzy passport cover is a fantastic way to keep track of your ticket in magical style.

Universal Hollywood – The Hogwarts Express attraction is a photo opportunity, not a ride. No ticket is needed, however you can still keep your park ticket in a passport holder.

Standard Use (International Travel)

All of the passport covers included in this review, are designed for standard sized passports. You should be able to insert your passport into the cover and use it for domestic and international travel.

“Best Of” Passport Holders List

This “Best Of” list is based on my personal experimentation with Harry Potter themed passport covers. Subsequent sections of this post include designs and styles that I haven’t personally tried. They are included in this post because they contain interesting design and aesthetic elements that are worth checking out.

Best Customizable Passport Cover: Hogwarts Student (Customize name, hair and house)

Product Performance: I love all of the customizations on this product – there are tons of hair designs & colors, font styles, and skin types. Plus you can select robe colors that best reflect your house! The quality was much higher than I expected and the seller responds quickly to requests for alterations.

Best Platform 9 3/4 Passport Cover: Red Embossed Leather

Product Performance: Great quality passport holder with a handy credit card compartment on the interior.

The company is based in the UK so shipping can take longer for US domestic customers.

Best Quidditch Passport Cover: Quidditch Team Captain

Product Performance: The detail on this passport cover is amazing. It looks professional and polished while embracing the magic of the Wizarding World.

Since each cover is made to order, processing and shipping are a bit longer than standard online stores. It took a little over 3 weeks to get my order.

Best Deathly Hallows Passport Cover: Artistic Deathly Hollows Icon

Product Performance: This passport cover just feels quality. I love the half stitching on the outside edge and the option to customize the interior (there are seven interior options!).

The creator is fantastic to communicate with and willing to make small adjustments to the design.

Best Vaccination Protector Case: I Solemnly Swear That I Have Been Vaccinated

Product Performance: Although this isn’t a passport holder, I’ve included it on this list because it is the cutest vaccination card holder I’ve ever seen! I just had to get it and I’m so glad I did because I love it.

Ask me if I’m vaccinated… just ask me!

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Hogwarts School

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a magical place that has captured the hearts of millions of Harry Potter fans around the world.

Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, the castle is a sprawling and impressive structure, with tall towers and winding staircases that seem to go on forever. At its heart, it’s a place where students learn to cast spells, brew potions, and fly on broomsticks, all while making life-long friendships and experiencing unforgettable adventures.

Whether you’re a Muggle or a wizard, there is something about Hogwarts that inspires wonder and awe in everyone who sets foot within its walls. So let’s raise a goblet of pumpkin juice to the castle that has given us so much joy and magic over the years!

Gray School Leather Passport Cover

Custom Tan Leather Hogwarts Emblem (with 9 image options)

Hogwarts Castle Illustration

Hogwarts Castle Map

Shiny Hogwarts Crest Pasport Cover

House Colors School Emblem

“Let us Step into the Night…” Albus Dumbledore Quote

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Rep Your House

The Hogwarts houses are a big part of the Harry Potter series and are a fun way for fans to identify with a particular group of wizards.

The four houses are Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Gryffindors are known for their bravery and loyalty, Slytherins are cunning and resourceful, Ravenclaws are intelligent and curious, and Hufflepuffs are kind and hardworking. Each house has its own unique qualities and strengths, and it’s always fun to see which one you are sorted into when you visit the Wizarding World website.

Even if you don’t fit perfectly into one house, it’s okay to embrace your own unique traits and be proud of who you are. At the end of the day, we are all just a bunch of magic-loving, wizarding enthusiasts!

Individual Houses with Gold Embossing

Individual Houses made of Simple Leather

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Individual Characters

Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Dobby are some of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter series.

Harry is a brave and determined young wizard who is on a mission to defeat the dark lord, Voldemort. Hermione is a brilliant and resourceful witch who is always there to help Harry and Ron out of a jam. Ron is a loyal and supportive friend who often serves as the voice of reason among the trio. Dobby, a house-elf, may be small, but he is fiercely loyal to Harry and his friends, and always ready to lend a helping hand.

These four characters, along with their friends and allies, embark on exciting and dangerous adventures together, and their bond is unbreakable. They may have their differences, but they always come together in the end to fight for what is right and to protect those they love.

Harry Potter

Hermione Granger

Dobby Loves Socks Leather Cover

Ron Weasley

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Magical World

The greater wizarding world in Harry Potter is a vast and magical place, full of incredible creatures, fascinating cultures, and hidden wonders.

From the bustling streets of Diagon Alley to the mysterious forests of the Forbidden Forest, there is always something new and exciting to discover.

Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins of ancient civilizations, learning new spells and potions, or simply enjoying the company of your fellow wizards and witches, there is always something to love and appreciate about the greater wizarding world. So why not take a journey with your new passport cover and see what magical adventures await you?

“I Solemnly Swear That I am up to no Good” Quote Cover

Felix Felicis Potion Passport Cover

Ministry of Magic: Auror Division

Marauders Map Leather

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50 Surprisingly Nerdy Things to do Now in Chicago

Are you a self-proclaimed nerd looking for a thrilling adventure in the Windy City?

You’re in luck! Chicago is packed with exciting and unique activities for the nerdy and the nerdy at heart.

From exploring the vast collections of world-class museums to indulging in specialty shops and immersive science fiction experiences, this city has it all. So put on your favorite geeky t-shirt and get ready to nerd out with our top 49 nerdy things to do in Chicago.

All activities are within two hours from the city proper:

Interest-Based Nerdy Travel Experiences

Standard Travel Needs – Nerdy Style

About The Author

Hi, I’m Kate.

I started planning unique travel experiences way back in 2008.

And I quickly realized that quirky, nerdy experiences were going to be a big part of my travel planning success.

So I set out to explore as much as I could.

And thanks to years of reading and experimenting, I’ve had a ton of success with travel planning…

…including the top 3 performing nerdy guides on this site:

  1. Nerdy Experiences in Washington DC
  2. Ultimate Guide for Nerdy Travel Accessories
  3. Best Nerdy Spots in San Diego

Check out these ideas in Chicago and you could have an awesome trip planned within the next 20 minutes.

What are the Top Nerdy Experiences Unique to Chicago?

1. Best Interactive Gothic History Museum: Medieval Torture Museum

While the idea of an interactive torture museum might sound a little painful & gruesome, the Medieval Torture Museum errors on the side of friendly photo ops, “playing” with torture devices, and informative middle-age incarceration education.

For about 40 – 60 minutes you will be transported into the minds of fanatics, madmen, and murderers to discover one of the darkest parts of human history. The museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of confinement and torture devices, many that are displayed as interactive exhibits for guests to sit or stand on.

With the motto “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” — Fair warning! Many visitors say that it’s a bit “creepier than expected” and advise against bringing children under 13. However with an overall 4.9 star rating on Google, we definitely recommend stopping by on your trip!

2. Best Nerdy Figure Tribute: Walt Disney’s Birth Place Home

If your childhood was filled with talking toys, beautiful princesses, swashbuckling pirates, and flying carpets, you can likely thank the creative genius of legendary founder, Walt Disney.

Tour one of “the happiest places on earth” for the man who brought the magic to millions of children.

Due to the restoration efforts from a team of dedicated fans, Chicago is fortunate to have one of the few remaining locations where Walt spent significant time in childhood. Unfortunately, many of the other important places in his life have been substantially altered or lost which makes this location a true “diamond in the rough”.

3. Best Magical Experience: Harry Potter Magic at Play

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you don’t want to miss the Magic at Play experience at Water Tower Place! This interactive exhibit takes you on a journey through the wizarding world, with plenty of exciting activities and displays to keep you entertained.

Start your journey as a First Year student at Private Drive making your way to Hogwarts via Platform 9 3/4, the Hogwarts Express, and boats across the lake.

Once you arrive at Hogwarts, you’ll have the chance to visit the Great Hall, where you can be sorted into your House and have your photo taken with the iconic floating candles. You can also share a glass of Butterbeer with some other wizards at the bar, and and try your hand at Quidditch in the Quidditch Pitch.

The whole experience is sprinkled with hands-on activities and iconic photo opportunities.

But be warned – the Magic at Play experience isn’t just for Muggles! You may just run into a few characters from the Harry Potter series along the way. So grab your wand and join the fun at the Magic at Play exhibit in Chicago’s Water Tower Place!

Recommended: Ultimate List of Harry Potter Travel Accessories

4. Best Video Game Store: Retro Dimension

Dust off your Nintendo 64, plug in your controller, and prepare for “Sudden Death”… Are You Ready?

Serious and casual retro gamers alike will appreciate the rare selection, quality tested games, fun displays, and fair prices at Retro Dimension. If you have questions about console set-up or obtaining rare games, the passionate staff will be your Navi.

As one of the most sincere customers put it, this shop is “Hands down the best retro gaming store in Chicagoland.”

5. Best Nerdy Mind Bending Experience: Mindworks: The Science of Thinking

If participating in the research for scientific geniuses like Dr. Octavius, Dr. Evil, Dr. Frankenstein, or Dr. Horrible, sounds like a dream cone true, then you need to visit Mindworks at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. You will have the unique opportunity to participate in active behavioral science research under the direction of Dr. Rebecca White who is decidedly less henious than any of the aforementioned doctors.

During your visit, you will explore 8 interactive exhibits designed to educate visitors about behavioral science. If the exhibits inspire you to contribute to the field of behavioral science, you may participate in researcher lead active studies on-site. You will be guided through lab work in the science of judgment and decision making and will even earn a prize such as clothing, discounts to museums, and gift cards for supporting research.

6. Best Tech Nerd Store: Chicago ComputerLand LLC

The best computer part, repair, and custom-build store in all the land!

  • If you need a part, they will have it.
  • If you have a question, they will answer it.
  • If something happens to your hard drive and all of your pictures are gone, they can retrieve them.
  • If you just feel like having a nice nerdy chat about computers, these are your guys.

Plus they specialize in all brands & operating systems, and prices are very reasonable!

7. Best Nerdy Childhood Throwback: The Lego Store

No Chicago architecture tour is complete without a trip to the LEGO store at Water Tower Place. See the famous skyline articulated in colorful bricks next to iconic Star Wars & Harry Potter LEGO creations.

8. Best Nerdy Toy Store: Geek Toy Hut

This no frills shop has a killer selection and very fair prices. Find every classic toy, video game, and comic you can remember from the last 50 years in 1 uber fun place.

  • Pokemon
  • Funko Pop
  • Star Wars
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • GI Joe
  • Dragon Ball-Z
  • Batman
  • WWE action figures
  • Digimon
  • Magic the Gathering

Since the inventory is constantly changing, make sure to go soon!

9. Best Horror Experience Shop: Horror House

A ghostly wind blows corn stalks in the moonlit field. Something shuffles deliberately in the darkness. And you feel a bead of sweat drip down your forehead. Nope, it’s not just your imagination. Something is stalking on your screen, primed to to kill your extra spending money: The Horror House in north Chicago.

This chilling shop and local event hub is a must-see spot for horror fans. In addition to top hair-raising brands such as Terror Threads, The October Academy, Western Evil and Atomic Cotton, The Horror House offers an ominous selection of collectibles, original artwork, paintings, comics, movies and more.

What are the Best Nerdy Local Cultural Experiences?

10. Essential Chicago Museums

What does a curious traveler do when the husky Chicago wind blows? Take a step indoors to explore one (or many) of the incredible cultural museums – of course!

  • Art Institute of Chicago – This encyclopedic art museum, founded in 1879, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. The museum is home to a vast collection of artworks spanning centuries and cultures, including paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts. Some of the museum’s most famous holdings include works by Monet, van Gogh, and Rembrandt, as well as ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, African and American Indian art, and contemporary art. In addition to its permanent collection, the Art Institute of Chicago also hosts a variety of special exhibitions and educational programs for visitors of all ages.
  • The Field Museum Chicago’s principal natural history museum is home to a vast collection of natural history specimens and cultural artifacts from around the world. The museum’s collections include more than 24 million specimens, including fossils, minerals, plants, animals, and cultural artifacts. Some of the Field Museum’s most famous exhibits include Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, and the Ancient Americas exhibit, which features artifacts from indigenous cultures of the Americas. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Field Museum also hosts a variety of special exhibitions and educational programs for visitors of all ages.
  • The Chicago History Museum – The museum’s permanent exhibits include a range of artifacts, documents, and other historical materials related to the city’s history, including its founding, growth, and development as a major metropolis. Some of the museum’s most notable exhibits include the Chicago: Crossroads of America exhibit, which explores the city’s role as a transportation hub, and the Chicago: Made in America exhibit, which explores the city’s industrial and economic history.
  • Museum of Science and Industry – One of the largest science museums in the world and is home to a vast collection of interactive exhibits and displays related to science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of the museum’s most popular exhibits include the Henry Crown Space Center, which features exhibits on space exploration and astronomy, and the U-505 Submarine exhibit, which allows visitors to explore a real World War II-era submarine.
  • Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center – This museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and promoting education about the atrocities of the Nazi regime during World War II. The museum’s permanent exhibits include a range of artifacts, documents, and other historical materials related to the Holocaust, as well as interactive displays and survivor testimonies. Some of the museum’s most notable exhibits include the Daniel’s Story exhibit, which tells the story of a young boy’s experience during the Holocaust, and the Portrait of Survival exhibit, which features portraits and biographies of Holocaust survivors.

11. Best Childhood Nerd Store: American Girl Place

American Girl Doll Store

Who runs the world? Girls! No where in the world are Beyoncé’s power-girl song lyrics more relevant than the American Girl Place.

Not only does the store celebrate girls of various backgrounds and immigrant origins, but also inspires young women to pursue competitive careers in astronomy, medicine, and engineering. All with cute outfits, stylish hairstyles, and lively accessories.

The store is truly a modern American Girl experience.

The whole store is designed to enjoy with a doll. There is a hospital to patch up any damage, a hair & nail salon, ear piercing shop, and cafe bistro with doll-sized snacks! Even the bathrooms have doll holders in each stall.

12. Museum of Illusions

Tease your senses and tickle your mind at this immersive world of illusions! This one-of-a-kind “edu-tainment” destination offers guests more than 80 visual and educational exhibits that encourage them to both learn and have fun. As you explore rooms of holograms, stereograms, and optical illusions, learn from the knowledgeable staff and snap some social media-worthy shots.

13. Cloud Gate also known as “The Chicago Bean

This 33 ft high 110 ton stainless-steel sculpture has been an iconic part of the Chicago landscape since 2006. Cloud Gate was created by cutting 168 stainless-steel plates into curved shapes using computer technology.

Besides being fun to look at and take pictures with, Cloud Gate has been a central location for all sorts of nerdy events like a Naruto Run, “Windex the Bean” cleaning party, and “Replace the Bean with Mr. Bean”. Check out local social media to see what is going on!

14. Chicago Architectural Boat Tour

The architecture river cruise in downtown Chicago is a must-do activity for those who are interested in architecture, design, and history. During the cruise, visitors will have the opportunity to see 40 of Chicago’s most famous buildings and landmarks from a gorgeous boat, and learn about the history, architectural styles, and artistic movements.

What are the Best Nerdy Theater, Film & Shows?

15. Second City Comedy Club

Comedy and nerdiness might seem like an unlikely pairing, but in reality, the two have always had a close friendship. From the early days of stand-up comedy, when comedians like Steven Wright and Emo Phillips used their love of science and technology as material for their acts, to the modern era of nerdy sitcoms and podcasts (hello Big Bang Theory!), there’s no denying that comedy and nerdiness go hand in hand.

If you’re looking for a night of nerdy laughter and entertainment, there’s no better place to visit than Second City Comedy Club. Located in the heart of the city, this iconic comedy club has been a fixture on the Chicago cultural scene for decades, and has played host to some of the biggest names in comedy, including Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert.

Since the club is known as a pipeline for discovering top comedians, spectators are able to see some of the best up-and-coming comedic talent in the business. The training program consists of various comedic formats including improv workshops & stand up nights so shows are always fresh, funny, and full of surprises.

16. Raks Geek (Geek + Bellydance + Fire)

The nerdiest variety show in Chicago! Raks Geek shows feature everything from a belly dancing Wookie to fire spinning super heroes. The performers focus on blending artistic and technical mastery with fun, creativity, and the nerdiest fandoms out there. And the people love it! Featured both domestically and internationally on MSN, WGN-TV, The Daily Mail, and more, Raks Geek was listed as a Timeout Chicago Critics’ Pick.

Shows are one-night only and happen on a periodic basis so make sure to check the site and book tickets in advance!

17. Chicago Magic Lounge

Step through the secret laundry door and transport away from your common, banal life into a world of magic and mystery. As you’re seated in the speakeasy lounge, peruse your art deco designed menu to find sparkling cocktails such as How Houdini Died, The Great Bellini, or Gone Without a Tres and some tempting sweet and savory bites.

Open 7-nights-a-week, the Chicago Magic Lounge features performances from some of the most talented magicians in the world in shows such as:

  • Music and Magic – Music on the stage ad magic at your table
  • The Signature Show – A tribute to Chicago’s high magic history
  • The Showcase – Magic from a variety of top local magicians
  • The Family Show – “Magic for the young and young at heart”

Check out the schedule for tickets to upcoming events!

What are the Best Nerdy Nature Experiences?

18. Oz Park

Celebrate the 1939 “The Wizard of Oz” film in a whimsically designed park that is sure to delight and engage any fan of pop culture and geeky pursuits. Throughout the park there are friendly statues of the main characters: Dorothy & Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. From Dorothy’s Playlot to the Emerald Garden, this park is a wonderful place to enjoy beautiful wildlife, relax, and bask in the magic of the fantastical Land of Oz.

19. Movie Filming Locations

Chicago is home to the filming locations for a ton of amazing movies and TV shows. If you’re a movie fan, then you’ll definitely want to check out these awesome sites. From superhero blockbusters to heartwarming romantic comedies, there’s something for every type of nerd on this list.

Pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to geek out in the city that works! Just don’t forget to bring your superhero cape (you know, for extra authenticity).

20. Union Stockyards Gate

Are you a fan of all things cow-related? Do you have an insatiable appetite for beef jerky and beef jerky-related paraphernalia? If so, then the Union Stock Yards Gate in Chicago is the place for you!

This historic landmark is a must-see destination for any self-respecting meat-lover, who wants to experience the history of what was once the largest meatpacking district in the world.

You can take a selfie with a giant cow head. Yes, you read that right – there’s a giant cow head at the Union Stock Yard Gate, and it’s just begging for a selfie. Trust us, your Instagram followers will be jelly.

What are the Best Nerdy Rides, Escape Rooms & Virtual Experiences?

21. Six Flags Great America

Are you ready for an adventure that will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into the pages of your favorite comic book? Look no further than Six Flags Great America!

If you’re a fan of adrenaline-pumping rides, you’ll find plenty to love in the DC Universe themed area. From the Dark Knight coaster to Superman: Ultimate Flight, there are plenty of high-speed, heart-pounding rides to choose from.

Additionally, Six Flags Great America hosts a variety of special events and shows, including holiday celebrations and live performances. If you’re a fan of live entertainment, you’ll want to check out the park’s schedule to see what’s coming up.

22. Mastermind Escape Games

Mastermind Escape games immerses you in an exciting & slightly creepy adventure where you will physically interact with your surroundings to solve puzzles and find clues.

Make a reservation and find yourself in the middle of one of these exciting games:

  • The Shed – You’ve heard disconcerting things about your neighbor. When he goes out you decide to investigate.
  • Sorcerer’s Secret – You discover an evil sorcerer’s plot against your uncle! Solve the curse and get out of his lair before its too late.
  • Outbreak: Find the Cure – Oh no! A deadly experimental virus has been released in the ventilation system of the CDC. Find your way out before time runs out.
  • Bank Heist – You’ve joined an organized crime syndicate and your first mission is to rob a bank! See how much money you can get before the police come for you.

23. The Great Escape Room Chicago

Visit the #1 voted escape room in America! With two scavenger hunt rooms, one portable escape experience, and four immersive rooms, The Great Escape Room is definitely a must visit spot.

  • Infirmary: Surgical Crisis
  • Poker Night at the President’s Bunker
  • Escape Artist: The Final Séance
  • Escape The Coliseum: The Underworld Maze

Spots are limited, so book your game ASAP!

24. Redline VR

This premiere immersive entertainment destination has it all: multiple virtual reality experiences, a fully-stocked bar, karaoke, billiards, and a massive theater (frequently featuring music, art, comedy and community events).

Individual VR bays can be rented for 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120-minutes at a time and have over 50 games to choose from. With a large projector screen that will show your friends whats going on in your headset, you will be able to win your game and share the glory with your spectators.

What are the Best Festivals, Conventions, and Live Events in Chicago?

25. St. Patrick’s Day Festivities

Grab some corned beef and cabbage and head down to the Chicago River – you’re in for a jolly green surprise!

Due to harsh political and economic conditions in mid-19th century Ireland and abundant jobs in the construction & transportation industries in the Chicago area, the city became a popular new home for many immigrant families.

According to historical records, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago was held in 1843, just a few years after the city was founded. The parade was organized by a group of Irish immigrants who wanted to celebrate their heritage and traditions.

Today, you can enjoy their legacy at one of many St. Patrick’s Day events around the city.

One of the most popular attractions is the “greenification” of the Chicago river. You can watch boats with dye cruise the river, distribute the dye via large hoses, and leave the water a bright, Irish green. Furthermore you can enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day parade, one of the largest in the country, featuring a wide variety of floats, bands, and other entertainment. It’s a great opportunity for people who enjoy attending public events and seeing unique and creative performances.

Since St. Patrick’s Day is so widely celebrated throughout the city, holiday festivities are a great opportunity to meet new people and socialize. Whether you’re attending a bar, pub crawl, or private party, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with fellow shamrock lovers.

26. Windycon

If you’re interested in cutting-edge science fiction topics from astrophysics to alien costuming then “Chicago’s longest running science fiction and fantasy convention” is for you! Initially started as a Sci-Fi literary convention, prominent events are either writing (Short Story contest and Writer’s Workshop for aspiring authors) or pop culture related.

Gear-heads will be happy to find an Art Show and Dealer’s Room where local artisans showcase unique, one-of-a-kind merchandise.

27. Lollapalooza

Nerds frequently fall into certain stereotypes and hobbies that typically do not include attending mainstream music festivals.

Lollapalooza is different.

I think every nerd should experience it at least once in their lifetime. Heres why:

  1. The music. Lollapalooza is known for its diverse lineup of artists, ranging from mainstream to indie and everything in between. As a nerd, I appreciate being exposed to new music and genres that I may not have discovered otherwise. Plus, seeing live performances of my favorite bands is always a thrilling experience.
  2. The atmosphere. Lollapalooza is not just about the music – it’s also about the culture and community. There are so many people from all walks of life in attendance, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and make connections.
  3. The technology. Lollapalooza has a focus on technology and innovation, with stages dedicated to electronic music and interactive experiences as well as cool tech to help attendees find lost items. As a nerd, I love being able to see how tech is creatively being used to support the music industry.

28. C2E2

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, is an annual gathering of lovers of comic books, movies, television, video games, and other aspects of pop culture.

C2E2, which takes place at the McCormick Place convention center, offers seminars and workshops with industry experts, celebrity signing sessions, and a sizable exhibition floor packed with merchants offering anything from memorabilia to original artwork.

Additionally, C2E2 hosts a variety of unique occasions, such as cosplay competitions and live concerts.

29. Chicago TARDIS

Chicago TARDIS is an annual convention that celebrates the long-running British science fiction television show, Doctor Who.

The convention features a variety of events and activities for true fans of the show, including: costume contests, an Alley of Delek’s, dance party, merchandise, karaoke, fan created games (including a Doctor Who RPG), on-site childcare, and more.

At its heart, Chicago TARDIS is a great opportunity for fans of Doctor Who to come together, share their love of the show with others, and learn more about the series. It is a fun and exciting event that is sure to be a hit with fans of all ages.

What are the Best Nerdy Tours & Classes?

30. Glassblowing Class

The art of glassblowing involves a thorough understanding of the properties and behavior of glass, including its melting point, viscosity, and thermal expansion.

Remind anyone of high school chemistry?

Luckily, this Airbnb Experience skips the beakers and periodic table in favor of instructing students how to create their own piece of chemistry.

Lamp-working, or torch-working, is a form of miniature glassblowing where students use a torch to create their own unique small glass piece. The instructor will explain the safety rules and demonstrate the process before helping each student make their own pendant, zipper pull, sun catcher, or light switch pull.

31. Spray n’ Sip – Street Art & Aerosol Class

Some consider graffiti to be a form of urban data visualization, as it allows artists to represent and convey information to many through visual means. This connection to data analysis and visualization aligns with the interests of many nerdy individuals, including myself.

At Studio W.I.P., guests can immerse themselves in the world of spray paint and urban art. During the interactive workshop, lead by local artists, guests will become the artist and experiment with lettering, stencils, aerosol, and cap techniques as they create part of a 50ft mural. The main goal of the workshop is to break down stereotypes surrounding spray paint and leave guests with curiosity and basic skills in using aerosol.

Guests are welcome to bring their own beverages and will go home with their own piece of art as a memento of the night.

32. Ferris Bueller at the Art Institute of Chicago Walking Tour

Enjoy Chicago Art with all the flair of Ferris Bueller and his friends.

On this tour, you’ll start by learning a short history of the Art Institute of Chicago. Then, you’ll spend the rest of your time exploring the galleries and looking at the artwork featured in the classic 1986 American teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

You’ll visit three floors of the museum, see 16 pieces of art, and learn about the works, their relationship to the characters, and their placement in the film. By the end of the tour, you’ll have a greater appreciation for these works of art and how they were used in the movie.

*This tour does not include admission to the Art Institute of Chicago.

33. Food Tours!

If you’re the type to fantasize about eating at places like The Three Broomsticks and The Krusty Krab, we recommend exploring Chicago’s delicious, vibrant, and innovative culinary scene on one (or both!) of two highly popular food tours:

Chicago’s Underground Donut Tour

Learn more about the city of Chicago through the medium of donuts!

You’ll try some of the best doughnut shops the city has to offer: Doughnut Vault, Firecakes Donuts, Stans Donuts, and Do-Rite Donuts. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of Chicago, each donut location, and how they fit into the larger food scene.

If you like donuts and happiness then this tour is for you.

Micheline Standard Tapas & Live Flamenco

Experience an intimate and artistic dining experience enjoying Spanish tapas while listening to Spanish music.

As you finish your tapas, you will be treated to a performance of flamenco, a style of music that mixes stories and anecdotes of life through dance, sounds, melodies, feelings, and emotions. Afterwards, you’ll have a chance to ask questions and even participate in a small lesson.

Your instructor, Ronaldo, is a professional dancer, percussionist, and teacher who has flamenco deeply ingrained in his life, and his wife, Carla, is a chef who studied culinary in Mexico City and has worked at a Michelin Star restaurant in Barcelona. Don’t miss this special opportunity just a short distance from downtown Chicago.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Stay?

34. Publishing House Bed & Breakfast

The Publishing House Bed and Breakfast is a boutique hotel in Chicago that was once the home of the Free Methodist Publishing House. It has been renovated and was reopened in 2017 as a bed and breakfast.

The 11 rooms in the inn are dedicated to authors who have written books about Chicago and feature vintage decor, heated floors, and clawfoot tubs. The inn is located near the historic Printer’s Row neighborhood, which is home to many independent bookstores and literary events.

The owners of the inn are literature lovers and excellent cooks who serve guests a lavish breakfast each morning and freshly baked cookies and muffins throughout the day. This inn is a unique destination for book lovers looking to immerse themselves in the world of literature and publishing.

35. Tropical Penthouse Paradise

A little slice of tropical paradise surprisingly nestled in the middle of Wicker Park and not the ocean. We’ve kept things dreamy enough, you won’t even notice the sand is missing. Chicago tropical? We just made that a thing.”

– Liz, your host

Need an escape? Just add water, a flamingo, and a palm or two to this palatial escape in the middle of all the action that Wicker Park has to offer. Relax with +14 friends or family members as you soak in the natural light and fresh ambiance.

The overall tropical vibes of this laid back stay will have you checked into vacation mode as quicker than you can say Marvelous Mojito!

Recommended: How to Decorate a Hotel Room for a Birthday

36. ACME Hotel

ACME Hotel is a boutique hotel located in the center of Chicago and close to many attractions. It is designed with an eye for style and offers a creative atmosphere with a focus on art, music, and design.

The hotel has a top-notch cocktail lounge called The Berkshire Room, a hot tub bar called Bunny Slope Bar (yes, you drink in the hot tub), and a bakery called WestTown. ACME Hotel offers free delivery of Morning Joe® coffee every morning and free, fast WiFi throughout the hotel.

Each room is equipped with a state-of-the-art Hi Fi system and an Amazon Alexa for added convenience. Enjoy your hotel experience without breaking the budget!

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Eat in Chicago?

37. SafeHouse Chicago

This spy-themed restaurant and bar is a must-visit destination for any nerd looking to unleash their inner James Bond or Natasha Romanoff.

The SafeHouse is a playground for the curious mind, with secret passages, hidden rooms, and challenging puzzles that will test your intelligence and cunning. Trying to uncover all of the hidden secrets… I dare you.

The restaurant is filled with spy-themed decor and gadgets, from secret doors and hidden compartments, to fake books and hidden cameras. You’ll have a great time pretending to be a secret agent and trying out all the cool gadgets.

38. Elf’d Up

If you’re one of those people who love tacky Christmas decorations, can enjoy listening to Christmas music at any time of the year, and refuses to take down your Christmas tree until February, Elfed Up is the perfect place to unleash your inner Buddy the Elf and embrace your love for all things Christmas.

You’ll have a great time singing along to holiday classics, drinking holiday-themed cocktails, meeting Buddy the Elf, participating in Christmas trivia, and getting into the festive spirit at any time of the year!

Enjoy menu items like:

  • Buddy’s Breakfast Pasta
  • Arctic Puffin’s Fish Tacos
  • Angry Elf Shrimp
  • Swirly Twirly Wings
  • Worlds Best Cup of Naughty Coffee

39. Snakes & Lattes

Snakes & Lattes is one of the top board game cafes in Chicago. With ambiance that makes you feel like you’re in a game and over 400 board games and tabletop games to choose from. This shop is top notch!

For less than $10 per person, customers can enter the “game vault” and choose the game of their choice.

The café serves coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, as well as appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and snacks. Snakes & Lattes also offers events and private parties, and it is possible to reserve tables in advance.

Additionally they host monthly trivia nights that are always a good time!

40. The Whale

The Whale is a restaurant in Chicago with a mid-century gambling theme and a 1920s vibe.

The restaurant’s name and theme are inspired by the gambling term “whale,” which refers to a high-stakes gambler who wagers large amounts of money and receives lavish perks from casinos to entice them to gamble.

It serves elevated American fare and cocktails in large portion sizes – you won’t leave hungry or rich!

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Drink in Chicago?

41. The Geek Easy

The Geek Easy is a comic book-themed bar in Chicago with video games, karaoke, live events, and a full bar with craft beer. It has a fun and eclectic decor with good lighting and a friendly atmosphere.

The bartenders are quick and polite and the bar has a good selection of ales, meads, and mixed drinks

The space can get crowded and is not well-suited for larger groups, and parking can be challenging on event nights.

42. Galloping Ghost

The Galloping Ghost Arcade is a popular bar and arcade, known for its extensive collection of vintage arcade games and consoles.

With over 500 games to choose from, including classic titles like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Street Fighter, its the perfect spot for both casual gamers and serious retro-gaming enthusiasts.

In addition to its gaming offerings, the Galloping Ghost also features a full bar with a wide selection of craft beers, cocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages.

43. Replay Lincoln Park

Replay arcade bar offers a range of vintage arcade games, pinball, and craft beer and cocktails in a warm industrial setting. Most of the games are free to play.

They have fun periodic pop up themes (think Jurassic Park, The Krusty Krab, Blockbuster, Game of Thrones, The Office & Y2K) with decorations, drinks, and activities to match. Super fun!

44. Wormhole Coffee

Known for its unique and eclectic atmosphere, Wormhole Coffee attracts a diverse crowd of coffee lovers and hipsters. The shop features a wide selection of hand-crafted coffee drinks, including espresso-based beverages, pour-overs, and cold brews… with the best latte art! In addition to its coffee offerings, Wormhole Coffee also serves a variety of pastries, sandwiches, and other light meals.

If you like Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then you will love the retro sci-fi decor and quirky, one-of-a-kind vibe.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Shop?

45. Graham Cracker Comics

Graham Cracker Comics is a comic book and gaming store with a wide selection of classic and modern products at reasonable prices. It is known for having a particularly large selection of older, classic games & comics, although the selection of newer games may be more limited.

46. First Aid Comics

Nestled in the heart of Chicago, this little shop is jam-packed with all sorts of graphic novels, indie comics, and of course, all your favorite superhero titles. And don’t worry, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the friendly and knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Or maybe they’ll just recommend something totally random and unexpected – it’s always a surprise at First Aid Comics!

So if you’re in the mood for some top-notch comics and a good time, swing by when you have some time to kill. Just try not to drool on the merchandise too much.

47. Woolly Mammoth Antique Oddities

If you have a love for all things weird and unique, Woolly Mammoth Chicago is the place for you!

This shop is filled with all sorts of interesting and eclectic items, including vintage and antique taxidermy, anatomy items, medical stuff, books, toys, skulls, and much more. The shop owner is extremely knowledgeable and can answer any questions you might have about the items on display.

48. Zombie Unicorn Comics

Are you a fan of all things undead and magical? Look no further than Zombie Unicorn Comics, the one-stop shop for all zombie unicorn-themed comic books and everything in between!

Step inside and you’ll be greeted by rows upon rows of comics featuring your favorite graphic novels, collectables, and other geeky merchandise – there’s something for every fan of the unconventional.

But that’s not all! Zombie Unicorn Comics offers additional services such as comic book pressing and cleaning and artist signature acquisition.

49. Bucket O’Blood Books and Records

Bucket ‘o Blood Books & Records is a unique store located in the heart of Chicago. Known for its eclectic mix of used books and records, the store attracts a diverse crowd of bibliophiles and music lovers.

As you enter the store, you’ll immediately be struck by the cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The shelves are packed with an impressive selection of used books and records, covering a wide range of genres and subjects. You can easily spend hours browsing the shelves, discovering hidden treasures and forgotten classics.

The store’s friendly and knowledgeable staff are always happy to help you find what you’re looking for or recommend something new. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just looking for something to read or listen to, Bucket ‘o Blood Books & Records is the perfect place to discover new favorites.

50. Kinokuniya Chicago

Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore chain that specializes in offering a wide selection of Japanese books, magazines, and other printed materials, as well as a range of Japanese stationery and gifts. In addition to its extensive selection of Japanese-language materials, Kinokuniya Chicago also carries a selection of English-language books, including a variety of manga and anime titles.

The store also frequently hosts events and workshops related to Japanese culture, such as book clubs, language exchange meetings, and art exhibits. Check out the events page before you visit!

Conclusion

Now you know – Chicago isn’t just for beer-swilling sports fans and deep-dish pizza lovers, although it isn’t bad to enjoy those things either! Chicago is a place for Brainiacs, toy lovers, and fans of all types. Bring yourself and leave with a little more.

55 Best Unique Harry Potter Luggage Tags

As I stepped onto Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station, I felt a thrill of excitement wash over me. I was finally going to board the Hogwarts Express, the legendary train that would take me to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I looked around and saw other students, some nervous and some eager, all anxiously awaiting the journey to the magical school.

The Hogwarts Express was a marvel of magical engineering, and I knew that the journey ahead would be filled with excitement and adventure.

When I began preparing for my trip, I knew I needed something special to mark my luggage. I rummaged through my supplies and found some plain, white luggage tags. With a wave of my wand, I etched many magical designs onto the tags and slipped them onto my bags to share with you – my friends.

Now, no matter where your travels on the Hogwarts Express take you, your luggage will be easily identifiable as belonging to a Hogwarts student.

This list is a summary of my magical recommendations – no trip to Diagon Alley needed!

“Best Of” Luggage Tags List

This “Best Of” list is based on my personal experience using various Harry Potter themed luggage tags. Subsequent sections of this post include designs and styles that I haven’t personally tried. They are included in this post because they contain interesting design and aesthetic elements.

Best Customizable Luggage Tag: Hogwarts Student (Customize name, hair and house)

Product Performance: I love all of the customizations on this product – there are tons of hair designs & colors, font styles, and skin types. Plus you can choose the robe colors to reflect your house!

The quality was much higher than I expected and the seller responds quickly to requests for alterations.

Best Pun Luggage Tag: “I’m a Keeper” Tag

Product Performance: The vinyl on the tag is high quality and durable and the leather strap is holding up fine, but I wish it was a little more sturdy. Since the color is predominantly black, I wouldn’t recommend buying the tag if you own black luggage.

It took my husband a minute to understand the pun, so my nit-picky wish is that the goal image was a little more pronounced. Once he got the pun, he loved it!

Best Quidditch Luggage Tag: Funny Nimbus 2000 Tag

Product Performance: This tag is made by the same vendor as the last. I like the design and appreciate that it is more identifiable when I use it on my black luggage.

Best Death Eater Luggage Tag: The Dark Mark

Product Performance: I’m not really a dark arts type of person, however the watercolor design looks really nice in person. Its simple and easy to identify as the death eater dark mark.

Also, I like the personal information card insert on the back of this tag. It contains all of the essentials: Name, Address, Telephone, Email.

Best Curses Luggage Tag: I Solemnly Swear A Lot Tag

Product Performance: This design is super cute and I love that it has two parts to attach to my luggage. It feels like my bag had a Harry Potter ambush!

There isn’t a personal information insert anywhere on these tags so if you are looking to label your luggage for loss or theft prevention, I wouldn’t recommend these tags. If you like this style, I have other cute tag options below.

Best Deathly Hallows Luggage Tag: Classic Deathly Hollows Decal

Product Performance: This design is perfect for a Harry Potter fan looking for a subtle design for their luggage. Its clean, simple, and matches with many styles of luggage.

Since the Deathly Hallows aren’t related to a specific Hogwarts house or individual character, this tag would be a really good gift for those who relate more so with the deeper messages of the books.

My only complaint is that the “Deathly Hallows” words are a little hard to read. My friend who isn’t familiar with Harry Potter lore didn’t understand the design and I think it would be nice if the words were large enough to read well.

Best Fantastic Beasts Luggage Tag: Fantastic Beasts Logo

Product Performance: This is the only Fantastic Beasts Logo tag I was able to find. I really like the look, size and vinyl quality.

Another perk is that these tags are bright and distinguishable enough to make it very easy to locate my bags in the airport terminal.

Return to the Table of Contents

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!

As the Hogwarts Express stands waiting in the station, students hubbub about the train, eager to start the new school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Some students sport luggage tags with the classy golden Platform 9 3/4 emblem with their names and home addresses, while others have magical tags that change colors to help them easily identify their bags. Some particularly mischievous students have even been known to use Disillusionment charms on their luggage, making it nearly impossible for anyone to spot their bags among the piles of trunks and suitcases on the train (not featured in this list).

No matter the type of luggage tag, one thing is certain: the journey to Hogwarts is always an exciting one, filled with anticipation and wonder.

Platform 9 3/4 Printed (Multiple Colors)

Vintage Hogwarts Express

Hedwig & Hogwarts Ticket Pack

Color Changing Luggage Tag

Classy Platform 9 3/4 Emblem

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Rep Your House

As the Hogwarts Express leaves the station, students from all four Hogwarts houses are bustling about the compartments, eager to start the new school year.

As I observe their luggage tags, some Gryffindor students sport luggage tags emblazoned with the house’s iconic lion crest, while others opt for more subtle designs in the house colors of scarlet and gold. Hufflepuffs, known for their loyalty and dedication, often choose luggage tags with their house’s badger crest, while Ravenclaws tend to favor tags with their house’s eagle crest. Slytherins, always a bit more cunning and ambitious, often choose sleek, sophisticated luggage tags in their house colors of green and silver.

No matter the design, each luggage tag represents the unique character and values of its owner & their house.

Traditional House Crest Tags

Sweater Design House Tags

Watercolor House Emblems

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Character Personalities

I paid close attention to the luggage tags of the students who entered my train compartment, were their designs better than the ones I created?

Surprisingly, each one was adorned with an image of the famous Harry Potter and his friends. I spotted tags with illustrations of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Dobby and others as well as tags with illustrations of Professor Snape and Draco.

Harry Potter w/Voldemort Background

Harry Potter Quidditch

Hermione Watercolor Collage

Hermione Illustrated Portrait

Ron Weasley Watercolor

Ron Weasley & Family

Luna Lovegood Glasses

Whimsical Luna Lovegood

Dobby Has No Master Tag

Round Dobby Tag

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

As the Hogwarts Express chugged along, I pulled out my copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and began to scan the pages.

I had always been fascinated by the magical creatures that inhabited the wizarding world, and the Hogwarts Express provided the perfect opportunity to spot some of them in the wild. I scanned the fields and forests outside my window, looking for any sign of the fantastic beasts described in the book. I spotted a herd of unicorns in a distant meadow and a group of centaurs wandering through the trees.

The journey on the Hogwarts Express was turning out to be even more exciting than I had anticipated.

Wand ID Information

Magical Congress Tag

Protect Your Mind Charm

Suitcase Luggage Tag

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Cute Chibi Design

After my completing my magical creature pre-term reading, I pulled out my sketchbook and began to draw some cute chibi characters. With oversized heads and tiny bodies, chibi characters are a whimsical and charming illustrative artform popular in both the magical and muggle worlds.

I couldn’t help but smile as I doodled Harry and his friends. Adding my own creative spin to the already delightful chibi style was an enjoyable way to pass the time. After I was done, I pulled out my wand and animated my characters. They playfully danced around my notebook until the Hogwarts Castle came into view.

Character Chibi Pattern

Cartoon Character Toss

Dumbledor

Voldemort

Fantastic Beasts Nifler Tag

Hogwarts Crest Tag

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Minimalist Style

As we pull into the station, students grab their bags and filed off the train. I easily located my bags because of the minimalist design I created on my tags. The style is simple and understated in a way that subtly incorporates elements from Hogwarts while being distinctively enchanting.

As I walk toward the castle, I turn back to take one last look at the Hogwarts express. I remember my exciting journey and look forward to future travels throughout the magical world.

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Wizard Artifacts Line Art

Magical Items in Sweater Style

Happiness Quote Tag

“Mischief Managed” Quote Tag

Accio Adventure Leather Tag

“Anything is Possible…” Leather Tag

Simple Seeker Tag

Hogwarts Alumni (all houses available)

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Matching Passport & Luggage Tag Sets

At the end of the term, I will pack my bags for yet another adventure in the magical realm. This time, to visit the dubiously dark arts focused school: Durmstrang. Since its far north of Hogwarts (very far outside the country), I will not only need my luggage tag, but a passport cover to match.

Thank goodness for my trusty wand, magical knowledge, and ample creativity. The journey ahead is sure to be filled with adventure, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me. 

Marauder’s Map

Hogwarts Crest

Advanced Potion Making Text Book Tag

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The Ultimate Guide for Nerdy Travel Accessories

I love nerdy things. Any time I find myself in situation where I know there’ll be a Funko Pop or two and some good company, I’m ecstatic. When I discovered nerdy travel accessories, it was like rolling my first polyhedral dice across the villain’s dungeon map.

What nerd doesn’t like fun travel accessories? Everyone does!

From tech gadgets to keep your electronics powered up and luggage accents that ensure you’re traveling in style, having the right travel accessories makes your journey as smooth as light speed. I’ve rounded up 30 of my top travel products for you to bring on on your next trip – let me know if I’ve missed anything!

Luggage Must-Haves

Just as Geralt of Rivia’s mercenary exploits lead him to new places, people, and compromising situations, your travels will hold unexpected new experiences! And require a bit of logistical preparation. Although you won’t have trusty Roach, you can find dependable luggage to ease the burdens of your trip.

On a shorter trip use something small like a Dr. Who Laptop Backpack, Super Mario World Carry-On Bag, or Marvel Hero duffel. On longer trips you’ll need something big and sturdy like the Star Wars Hard Side Spinner Wheel Suitcase or a Poké Ball Full Size Suitcase Cover. For specialized gaming trips, bring a table top miniatures travel bag to protect your figures in route.

Finally, safeguard your luggage from Nilfgaard soldiers and careless luggage attendants by labeling it with a sturdy luggage tag.

Dr. Who Laptop Backpack

Captain America Luggage Tag

Star Wars Hard Side Luggage

Super Mario World Carry-on Bag

Pokeball Luggage Cover

Marvel Hero Duffel Bag

Table Top Miniatures Travel Bag (Dungeons & Dragons)

Travel Organizers

If only we all had Hermione’s Undetectable Extension Charm Bag that would allow for an almost infinite amount of space in a suitcase… think of the number of outfits you could bring to a convention or Renaissance Faire!

Get as close as muggle-ly possible to this magical feat with a set of national parks theme packing cubes and a Sailor Moon travel pouch. For items that are wet or could spill, consider a D&D toiletries bag or Star Wars washable snack bags. Don’t underestimate the power of a good organizer to make packing easier!

National Parks Themed Packing Cube

Sailor Moon Travel Pouch

D&D Toiletries Bag

Star Wars Washable Snack Bags

Travel Tech Gadgets

Quality gadgets amplify the skills of stealthy stars like James Bond, Tony Stark and Ethan Hunt. They know what we know – there’s nothing like a dead battery to slow down an evolving adventure.

Keep all your accessories charged up with a power bank, travel adapter or global charging kit. Assuming you don’t have a private airplane or jet-powered suit, you will likely need some entertainment in-route to your destination. I recommend an iPad and some statement headphones (Hello Kitty, Elf Ears or AirPods with a Nerd-y case).

As you get ready to embark, there are a few last-minute small gadgets that deserve a spot in your travel bag. A Bluetooth adapter will allow you to use your regular cordless earbuds to tap into a headphone jack audio system (in a car or on an airplane). Give your luggage some extra love by using a digital luggage scale to meet weight requirements before getting to the check in counter, and adding a Tile Pro to each of your bags to easily locate them if they get lost.

Hello Kitty Razer Kraken BT Headset (Bluetooth)

Elf Ear Headphones

iPad Air 5th Gen

Nerds Airpods Case

Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter

Apple World Travel Adapter Kit

Luxebell Digital Luggage Scale

Tile Mate Essentials

In-Route Comforts

For a comfortable journey of 300 miles distance or 30,000 feet in the air, a Pikachu travel pillow and Velma Glasses eye mask are the ideal relaxation accessories. When it gets cold, bundle up in a Nintendo controller throw or super hero blanket with sleeves, and some cozy Star Trek socks. When you need some peace and quiet, pop in your loop ear plugs and get some shut eye. You’re almost there!

Nintendo Controller Blanket

Scooby-Doo Velma Glasses Sleep Mask

Pikachu Memory Foam Neck Pillow

Super Hero Blanket with Sleeves

Loop Ear Plugs

Star Trek Socks

Health and Wellness

Despite mask mandates ending earlier this year, many travelers are still choosing wear a face mask when they travel. Stock up on a set of Pokémon masks that will comfortably protect you from sickness in public places. If you’re traveling to a destination that requires you to present a vaccine card, keep it in a small Harry Potter themed holder.

When it comes to general travel health, Spider-Man hand sanitizer is a must—buy a set for each of your carry-on bags, totes, and backpacks. Emergen-C vitamin packets are a great way to give your immune system an extra boost and are easy to bring along.

Pokemon Face Mask

Harry Potter Themed Vaccination Card Protector

Spiderman Hand Sanitizer

Emergen-C Packets

Even More Travel Gear

Closing out this collection of nerdy travel accessories are some extra fun odds and ends. You never know when someone will try to steal your identity so disguise your passport with a clever gamer case.

Staying HYDRA-ted is a constant battle that requires a good reusable water bottle. Now you can stop buying overpriced bottles at the airport, helping both your wallet and the environment. Win-win.

When you’re done saving the day toss your pedestrian clothes and super-suit into a large travel laundry bag. Kick back and relax after a long days work – you deserve it!

Minecraft Tumbler 30-ounce

Gameboy Color Passport Case

Marvel Travel Laundry Bag

39 Surprisingly Nerdy Things to do Now in San Diego

Attention all Potterheads, Oompa Loompas, Narnians, Whos (down in Whoville) and just about anyone else you can think of in the nerd-dom who is planning to spend time in San Diego!

Are you looking for something entertaining, fun, and just a tad bit nerdy to do in San Diego?

Click here to buy your own Carmen Sandiego & Waldo sticker!

This guide will show you exactly how to make your next trip to “America’s Finest City” a truly memorable travel experience. All activities are within two hours from the city proper. You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy this list but if you are a nerd, then these activities are definitely for you:

Interest-Based Nerdy Travel Experiences

Standard Travel Needs – Nerdy Style

About The Author

Hi, I’m Kate.

I started planning unique travel experiences way back in 2008.

And I quickly realized that quirky, nerdy experiences were going to be a big part of my travel planning success.

So I set out to explore as much as I could.

And thanks to years of reading and experimenting, I’ve had a ton of success with travel planning…

…including the top 3 performing nerdy guides on this site:

  1. Nerdy Experiences in Washington DC
  2. Nerdy Experiences in Boston
  3. Nerdy Experiences in Los Angeles

Check out these ideas in San Diego and you could have an awesome trip planned within the next 20 minutes.

Recommended: The Ultimate Guide for Nerdy Travel Accessories

What are the Top Nerdy Experiences Unique to San Diego?

1. Best Nerd Convention: Comic-Con

Most self-respecting nerds have fantasized about attending the original San Diego comic-con. Nothing can compare joining 130,000 of the most committed fans in the world, wearing full designer cosplay for four days of unique, immersive pop culture experiences.

Even the most casual nerds will appreciate the breadth of pop culture activities to enjoy:

  • Blockbuster film actors, directors, and crew panels
  • Future potential TV & movie project screenings
  • Unique vendor shops
  • Funky photo ops

Activities appeal to virtually all genre interests including: horror, Western animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, books, sci-fi, and fantasy.

If you want to go but don’t have a creative costume, consider one of these fun shirts:

2. Best Nerd Museum: Comic-Con Museum

Connect with the magic of Comic-Con all year round!

The Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park was designed to give nerds and non-nerds alike an opportunity to learn about new art and pop culture. The museum’s mission is to express the unique fusion of passion, creativity, science, technology, art and imagination found at the convention each year.

Visitors have the opportunity to see memorabilia from comics, Sci-Fi, TV shows, books, video games, anime, and more in classic museum format. Additionally, the museum offers classes, activities, movie screenings, trivia contests and online programs available anytime.

3. Best Retro Gaming Bar: Coin Haus

Pour yourself a beer (or a few!) at the self-service beer bar and lose yourself in a warehouse full of classic arcade games. Before you go, make sure to check the website for nightly specials and remember that video games are free during happy hour!

4. Best Childhood Throwback: Dr Seuss Legacy Remembrance

Photo Credit: Stephen Bay Photography

From early childhood, many of us grew up with the whimsical rhymes, funny illustrations, and imaginative messages of Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. A legacy tribute to the author of the iconic phrase “you have to be odd to be number one” is definitely worthy of this nerdy list.

Theodore Geisel spent many of his working years living and creating in La Jolla, CA. After his death much of his estate was left to UC San Diego.

Today, visitors can immerse themselves in his life and creative inspirations at a few places in La Jolla:

  • Geisel Library at UC San Diego: The Dr Suess Collection (including nearly 20,000 items ranging from original drawings, sketches, proofs, notebooks, and other memorabilia) is typically not available for public viewing, however it is displayed temporarily during March (Dr. Seuss’ birthday) and in the summer.
  • Former Personal Residence: Gifted to UCSD upon his death. 7301 Encelia Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Legends Gallery: Many people don’t know that Dr. Seuss not only wrote his fantastical childhood books, but also did all of the artwork. Legends Galley houses limited edition replica bronze sculptures, completed paintings, casual sketches, and finalized iconic illustrations made by Dr. Seuss. Visitors can also have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing some of Dr. Seuss’s unique impressionistic works and “Unorthodox Taxedermy” series of imaginary animals with odd body parts.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas the Musical at the Old Globe Theater: If you find yourself in San Diego at Christmas, grab some tickets to this musical holiday delight!

5. Space Invaders Hunt in Downtown San Diego

This downtown art installation is a reverse of the original Space Invaders game: instead of being charged by aliens, you do the charging.

This Space Invaders themed scavenger hunt has become a hot spot for gamers and treasure hunters alike.

It began as an exhibit for the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art called “Viva la Revolution: A Dialogue with the Urban Environment” and was created by a French muralist known for making space “invader” mosaics in urban environments. His contribution to the exhibit featured 21 icons around the city.

Follow the map in the link above to find the original mosaics on your own or if you just want to play the game check out this pocket-sized micro arcade version (its slightly bigger than a quarter!)

6. Best Tech Nerd Store: Geeks Candy Shop

If Willy Wonka made IT equipment instead of Chocolate, his factory would look something like Geeks Candy Shop. Although the sweetness only comes from the amazing deals on all things techy (laptops to servers to monitors and even power cables), the knowledgeable staff is very helpful and the merchandise is well-organized.

7. Best Nerdy Toy Store: ComicKazi

If you like your nerd toys in the way Harry Potter likes his godfather, Serious, then this shop is for you! This high-quality, low-frills shop has everything you need for the best shopping experience imaginable: massive inventory selection, knowledgeable & helpful staff, and fair pricing (even on limited edition release items!).

What are the Best Nerdy Local Cultural Experiences?

8. Essential San Diego Museums

San Diego has a wide variety of museums, these are some of our favorites:

**It’s important to note that February is San Diego Museum month where most museums have discounted or free admission.

  • USS Midway Museum – A unique opportunity to see the formerly confidential interiors of one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers of the 20th century. You will tour the ship through the sleeping quarters, engine room, galley, hanger deck and flight deck via a self guided audio tour. We recommend taking time to listen to the tours and presentations by docents, taking a test flight in the simulators, and seeing retired planes on the flight deck. This museum should be a high priority on any San Diego activity list!
  • Fleet Science Center Experience fundamental science principles in light, perception, physics, technology and engineering. This hands on museum teaches through interactive exhibits that appeal to adults and children alike. Plus there is a 76 foot Imax theater with immersive educational films.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum – The San Diego Natural History Museum (known as NAT) features the ecological, environmental, and biological history of the Southern California and Baja California regions. You will get to see the allosaurus cast (named “Al”), scavenger hunts in Fossil Mysteries, the Foucault Pendulum, drawing skulls on the gigantic chalkboard, movies in the Giant-Screen Theater and more!
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps – As an active research facility, the Birch Aquarium features the most current findings in oceanography. Visitors learn about fishes and invertebrates through hands-on exhibits, outdoor tide pools full of Swell Sharks, Round Rays & Pink Abalone, and expert lead on-site programming.
  • Museum of Us – Dedicated to the anthropology of the human experience from multicultural perspective. Besides housing several interesting and unique temporary exhibits with subjects that cover everything from 10,000 years of beer-brewing history to “Cannibals: Myth & Reality,” the museum is known for having one of the most extensive collections of Ancient Egyptian antiquities in the U.S (including one of only 6 Ptolemaic child’s coffins and several authentic mummies).

9. Bonfire Nights on the Bay

Twilight is one of the most magical times to enjoy the ocean. The slightly brisk salty breeze will make you want to curl up in a cozy chair with a glass of wine, next to a warm fire and enjoy the company of locals and fellow travelers.

In this affordable Airbnb experience, you show up to the bay and let your host take care of the rest – It even includes s’mores!

10. Sunset Surfing with A Cali Surf Bro

Although nerds aren’t stereotypically the most athletic bunch, they are typically comfortable trying a new way of life that is different from their own.

San Diego surf culture is definitely a way of life.

In this Airbnb experience you will grab a board, learn basic surfing techniques, and feel the freedom of California’s favorite ocean sport. Within two hours you will be able to stand on your surfboard and maybe even “shoot the curl”!

What are the Best Nerdy Theater, Film & Shows?

11. Rooftop Cinema Club

Sunsets, skylines, elevated food & drink and cutting-edge sound is THE NEW way to immerse yourself in the magic of urban cinema.

Enter Rooftop Cinema Club.

This downtown outdoor theater screens cults, classics, and new releases in a picturesque metropolitan environment. Although there are opportunities to interact with other audience members before the film via games, prizes, talent Q&As, and sing-a-longs, the cinematic experience is paramount. Each guest is given a state-of-the-art audio headset to ensure they catch every last word in the feature film.

Don’t forget to grab some of the unique snacks and a craft cocktail or beer!

12. The Prestige – Magic Lounge & Showroom

Mix magic, mystery and humor in this interactive dinner show experience in the Gaslamp District of Downtown. You’ll start in an elegant lounge with amateur magician bartenders who perform coin & card tricks. As you wait for the show to begin, explore the décor and learn the history of magic.

When the reservation begins, you will be guided into the showroom dinner parlor through a secret entrance. Enjoy the three course meal of a salad, entree, and dessert with menu options for all taste preferences & dietary restrictions. Finally, you’ll experience a puzzling & mystifying magic show from an awarded magician. You are guaranteed to leave interested and amazed – The Prestige offers a unique experience to be remembered!

Recommended: Ultimate List of Harry Potter Travel Accessories

13. The Sugar Factory & Theatre Box Movie Theater

Make your next cinematic flick even sweeter with the ultimate menu of saccharine-loaded treat options! This is the recipe for a syrupy, delicious evening:

  1. Order dinner – we recommend selecting one of the rainbow options (burgers, pancakes, or tie dye milkshakes)
  2. Visit the sweet shop (literally every candy imaginable)
  3. Grab a beverage at the bar (um… 36-ounce alcohol infused smoking candy goblet?? Yes please!)
  4. Head to the chic theater complex attached for your feature entertainment

14. Top Gun Filming Locations

If you like your movies to have fast planes, g-force, and cheesy beach football games, then a visit to the filming locations from Top Gun is a must-do San Diego attraction.

Click on the links below to see specific locations (Google Maps geo links).

From Top Gun: Maverick, you can visit the following filming sites: Naval Air Station North Island, I-Bar (Hard Deck Bar), Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and Highway 1.

If your interested in sites from the original Top Gun, we recommend The Top Gun House (now a bakery!), Liberty Station, and Kansas City Barbecue.

What are the Best Nerdy Nature Experiences?

15. Arabian Horse Experience

Whether its Arod (Legolas’ horse in Lord of the Rings), Roach (Geralt’s horse in the Witcher), or Stayer (Perrin’s horse in the Wheel of Time) having a sturdy steed is an essential element of fantasy literature.

Known for their appealing physical appearance, endurance, gentleness, and speed Arabian horses are the oldest breed known to man (dating back to 3000 BC). The Arabian breed is featured in the heartfelt family classic The Black Stallion.

In this Airbnb experience a true enthusiast will give you the full lowdown on this exceptional animal. You will start with the biology, history, pedigree, and maintenance of Arabian horses and end with a full feeding and riding session. Plus, your host will give you Arabian coffee with customary fruit and nuts.

All skill levels are welcome and don’t forget to see the fish, chickens, pheasants, quails, ducks, turkeys and parrots on the property.

16. Harper’s Topiary Garden

Step into the closet of a magical world where instead of being turned into stone, animals are turned into lush, green bushes. And instead of an evil witch seeking for power, a kindly set of gardeners makes creations to beautify the world.

Thanks to over 15 years of work from the Harper family, visiting their Topiary Garden may make you feel like your in the magical land of Narnia.

For those who don’t have a natural green thumb, Topiary is…

The horticultural practice of training perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, whether geometric or fanciful.

The term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way.

Wikipedia

When you visit this home in Mission Hills, San Diego you’ll see 50 different creations in the garden art gallery including: a whale, bunnies, a dog, a dinosaur, and an entire herd of elephants.

Anyone is welcome to enjoy this outdoor art exhibit, but if you visit please respect the privacy of the owners & their creations.

What are the Best Nerdy Rides, Escape Rooms & Virtual Experiences?

17. Legoland

Did you know that the best nerd toy ever has its own theme park?

If you have kids under the age of 12 – definitely go! Your kids will love it.

If you don’t have kids but love LEGOs, fantastic ambiance, light roller coasters, Botanical Gardens, and getting access to exclusive LEGO sets you should probably consider making a stop.

One of the most impressive highlights of the park is seeing the many awesome LEGO structures, buildings, and characters in MiniLand & around the park.

  • Star Wars: Continually expanding and diversifying the mini-Empire—like the scale model of the Death Star, a 1,900-pound masterpiece made with half a million plastic bricks. Check out LEGO-constructed landscapes like the Jawa sandcrawler on Tatooine, an underwater Opee sea killer on Naboo, and displays of the planet Jakku from The Force Awakens.
  • Mini-city: Visit New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Washington DC all in one place.
  • Famous Figures: See busts of famous personalities, including William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington made out of Lego blocks.

18. Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a historic amusement park located on the ocean’s front of Mission Beach. The park was developed by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels and opened on July 4, 1925 as the Mission Beach Amusement Center.

Located on the surf and sand of Mission Beach, Belmont Park is San Diego’s only beachfront amusement and entertainment center! From the historic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster to the dynamic oceanfront restaurants, Belmont Park is the quintessential Southern California beach experience.

Take a stroll through the park and grab a Monster Waffle Cone then check out all the action on the Boardwalk. Sit down for a delicious bite to eat or one of 69 beers on tap at Draft South Mission after a fun-filled day of mini golf, rock climbing, and rides. No matter your age, the park has something everyone in the family can enjoy. However you choose to spend your day, Belmont Park is the best way to play!

19. Lockdown Escape Rooms

Visit some of the best, fully immersive escape game experiences in San Diego! Over the years Lockdown has become an enthusiast favorite due to quality design, unique puzzles, interesting storylines, and attention to detail.

You and your group can test your logical reasoning, mental finesse, and intelligence in one of four great themes at the Hillcrest location: Medieval, Western, Voodoo and Science.

Spots are limited, so book your game ASAP!

What are the Best Festivals, Conventions, and Live Events in San Diego?

20. Sand Castle Building Competition

If you like artsy reality TV shows (think baking, fashion design, glass blowing, etc), then you will love the in-person Sand Castle Building Competition in Imperial Beach, CA. Every June the finest Sand Castle artists in San Diego and the USA gather for a two day tournament of sandy grit and skill.

Competition events consist of a breakfast with the Mayor, exhibition of sand castle construction, the Sand Castle Ball, and a Winners Award ceremony. Spectators are welcome to view the sand castles throughout the event.

21. San Diego Bay Parade of Boats

San Diego is a unique place to celebrate Christmas. Since its only snowed 5 times over the past 125 years, Christmas is marked by holiday decoration instead of frozen precipitation.

Although, travelers have the opportunity to ice skate on the beach (Hotel del Coronado), make sand angels instead of snow angels, and view a holiday pet parade, one of the most festive ways to celebrate with locals is to attend the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights presented by the local boating community.

For over 50 years, 80 owners extravagantly decorate their boats for over 100,000 spectators. There is no cost to view the parade, however it gets a little brisk by the sea in the evening so make sure to bring a sweater!

What are the Best Nerdy Tours & Classes?

22. Falconry Experience Over the Beach

Although this falconry experience doesn’t involve fighting with the Avengers and donning Captain America’s vibranium shield, it will definitely show you the power Falcons and how they influenced Marvel character Sam Wilson to become The Falcon.

Wilson’s adventure started when he took his adopted pet Falcon, Redwing, to the tropics for a hunting expedition only to discover that the the other hunters were former Nazis with nefarious plans (w/supervillain Red Skull).

Your adventure will start when you visit the majestic cliffs of La Jolla to free fly falcons over the sea. After that, who knows where your adventure will lead?

In this experience you will learn how to call and release trained birds using a falconry glove, get an up-close view of simulated hunting behaviors, and admire the aerial skills of swooping, ground-skimming, & high speed diving. Additionally there will be plenty of time for questions and pictures with the birds!

23. Olympic Training Center Tour

Sorry friends, this is not the math-lympics training center. But if you have any interest in sports and athleticism, keep reading.

The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center opened in 1995 as an Olympic Training Center. In the mid-80s, the USOC put out a request for a city to bid to raise funds to design and build a warm-weather, sea-level training facility with access to a lake. The San Diego National Sports Training Foundation won the bid and raised funds for the initial phase of development while the Eastlake Company donated 150 acres in eastern Chula Vista. The facility was then gifted to the U.S. Olympic Committee to own and operate. The Chula Vista Olympic Training Center was the first center to be master-planned from the ground up as an Olympic Training Center and is dedicated to the development and performance of America’s future Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Ground was broken on the facility in 1990 and it officially opened in June 1995. Since then, the training center has benefited thousands of Olympians, Paralympians, Olympic & Paralympic hopefuls, numerous community groups, and countless visitors from around the world.

24. Gaslamp Historic True Crime Tour

Lights, camera, MURDER! Explore Hollywood and uncover the secrets of this world famous neighborhood.

Explore the dark underbelly of Hollywood with the ultimate Haunted Hollywood walking tour. As the sun sets over Hollywood, you will be led on a fright filled walk down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams to visit haunted hotels, theaters, and landmarks.

If you love Hollywood, the paranormal, or true crime – this is the tour for you!

25. Create Tiny Ceramics on a Mini Potters Wheel

Join me in the land of miniatures. You will learn how and get to create tiny pottery on a mini pottery wheel. No previous pottery experience necessary! 

Overlooking a beautiful canyon with vistas of mountains east of San Diego, you will experience the green of fruit trees and birdsong, in this relaxing indoor outdoor art studio.

This experience includes clay, glazing and firing of the clay. You will get to choose one color of glaze per pot. The clay cannot be taken home at the time of the class because it must be kiln fired. The turn around is about a week for drying, glazing, and firing. If you are visiting from out of town, I will be able to ship it to you for a minimum of $10/box. If you are local, I will contact you to know when they are ready to pick up. Depending on your location, we can also set up a time to meet up so I can get you back your miniature creations.

26. Bees By the Bay – Hive Dive

Step aside Winnie-the-Poo, we’re leaving the hundred acre wood and entering the world of suburban beekeeping!

In this Bee-ginning level Beekeeping Class you will have the opportunity to peek inside a hive, see how bees live, learn about creating honey & beeswax, harvest popular products, and, of course, eat some honey. Just remember to have fun and bee yourself!

27. Food Tours!

If you’re the type to fantasize about eating at places like Pizza Planet and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, we recommend exploring San Diego’s delicious, vibrant, and innovative culinary scene on one (or both!) of two highly popular food tours:

A Food and Art Walk Through Barrio Logan

Discover the neighborhood of Barrio Logan, the hidden gem of San Diego, while eating and drinking your way through one of San Diego’s best kept secrets. In between tastings your local tour guide will give you a chance to explore a neighborhood that is loaded with incredible street art, one of a kind boutique shops and some of the best food and drinks in San Diego. It’s time to eat some killer food and understand the culture of San Diego.

Carlsbad Food Tours

Eat Like a Local with Carlsbad Historic Walking Food Tours 6 delicious food & wine tastings. Receive an insider’s view into the culture, history and architecture that defines the Carlsbad. Included in the guided walking tour is also our popular Tasting Guide via a QR code, which features valuable maps, exclusive guest coupons and discounts. You will learn about the origins of Carlsbad while you sample unique local favorites.

Join us on our stroll through one of the most beautiful seaside villages while creating memories you cannot forget. We will highlight the historical sites and mural art along the way.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Stay?

27. Golden Hill Tree House

Sleep among the tree branches in this luxury, urban oasis inspired treehouse. You will feel relaxed and rejuvenated as you enjoy the calming interior design, fantastic views of the Coronado islands & Mexico, a window niche with streams of natural light for quality reading, and a deep soaker bathtub with double shower heads.

Additionally, you can easily walk to some delicious restaurants or take a quick Uber to some of the best of San Diego, including downtown, the beach and the zoo!

28. Tiny Home

With nearly perfect weather year round, San Diego is the ideal location to enjoy outdoor living with an emphasis on minimalism. This tiny home, happily situated near the center of the city, is not only artfully designed on the interior, but also situated in an inviting paradisiacal garden. After a long day of adventuring around the nerdiest parts of San Diego, take some time to relax in the hammock, get cozy in the hot tub or by the fire pit, and enjoy wildlife in the fish pond.

Centrally located to the east of Downtown San Diego this Airbnb is close to both the trolly and bus lines leading to nearby cities: South Park, North Park, and Hillcrest.

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Eat in San Diego?

29. Shakespeare Pub

“Friendship makes us fresh” – William Shakespeare

British comfort food made from scratch that’s so good Brits in America claim that the flavors are “just like home.” Don’t just take our word for it, the Fish & Chips have won many awards over the years, including 2017 Best Fish & Chips in the US.

The interior is a traditional English Tudor style pub with a beverage list of the most popular brands in Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe, and the US. One distinguishing characteristic of the pub is its beer engine. One of the only establishments in San Diego to have one, the engine allows the pub to sell cask-conditioned beer, often referred to as ‘real ale’.

30. Trailer Park After Dark

Downtown bar located in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego highlighting the grit and glitter of trailer park life. They offer nightly specials, entertainment, comfort food, specialty cocktails and an ambience that will make you want to cut those jeans into shorts and bust out the Oakleys! You can reserve one of three trailers (themed by decade – 60’s, 70’s and 80’s) or just show up to grab a bite.

31. Animae

Attention Japanese culture lovers! We have a hot spot for you.

This Animae shop is hardly cartoonish, in fact it’s a world-class steakhouse restaurant owned and operated by celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey. This sophisticated West Coast Steakhouse has strong Asian culinary influences and is one of the few restaurants in San Diego that serves Japan’s finest A5 wagyu beef.

32. One Door North

If you occasionally find yourself missing quaint childhood scout campouts or spirited renaissance fair encampments, One Door North will warm your heart and fill your stomach.

This natural themed restaurant prides itself on locally sourcing ingredients and serving a rotating menu featuring foods in season. Not only is the menu sustainably minded, but also homespun flavor focused with options like: mini corn bread muffins, a giant Bavarian pretzel​, and flat iron stake.

Also, if you bring kids or want to feel like a kid yourself, make sure to order the S’mores platter for dessert!

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Drink in San Diego?

33. Battle Mage Brewing

If you tend to choose a bar based on the quality of the fictional lore written about its historic & distinguished origin, then BattleMage Brewing is the perfect place for you! You can find said lore on their website, or just click here.

If you need further points to prove the heroic aspirations of this bar, consider the following:

  • Beer samplers are served on wooden battle axes
  • Beverage glasses have an epic wizard engraving
  • Bar seating includes a replica Game of Thrones sward chair (and enjoy a variety of other swords)
  • Walls are covered with Magic the Gathering cards
  • Drink menus have highly creative theming
  • Toilet paper roll holders are dragons
  • Dungeons & Dragons tournaments are held regularly

Choose your drink by rolling a D20 – oh wow you’ve leveled up!!

34. Brewski’s Bar & Arcade

If your idea of having a good time includes of playing classic arcade games, pinball, pool and air hockey while drinking craft beverages & cocktails, then Brewski’s Bar & Arcade is the place for you! Enjoy weekly beer pong tournaments. trivia nights and all UFC events (on PPV) from the retro-industrial bar room or spacious outdoor patio.

35. Punch Bowl Social

The former Coliseum Athletic Club in Makers Quarter, this famous boxing marquee turned Punch Bowl Social San Diego now has the spotlight on people vs. food; people vs. shots and people vs. games in true Cali style.

Here, you’ll find scratch dishes, an infamous 360 bar with craft cocktails and games like bowling, shuffleboard, karaoke and bocce ball.

Everyone is a winner. Corn hole, bowling, ping pong, darts arcade games. It’s time for some spontaneous, real-world funning.

36. The Office

The physical & cultural landscape of the 9-5 ‘daily grind’ or ‘rat race’ has changed in just the last decade. With smart phones, laptop computers & WiFi- we’ve adopted ways to be productive anywhere, anytime. The typical office as portrayed in movies & television is not-so-typical anymore…thinking outside the cubicle is to be expected (The Office has free WiFi & places to power up).

We can all agree that we’ve imagined this scene: kicking our feet up in the boss’s office, sitting in a leather throne behind a walnut desk, cocktail in hand (cue AMC’s hit show Mad Men). The concept behind The Office Bar combines the comfort and personality of a classic cocktail lounge with the a twist: you’re the boss!

Celebrities in shock instagram account , musician performances, karaoke

What are the Best Nerdy Places to Shop?

37. Calico Games

This place has pretty much all your gaming needs at a reasonably to very good price! Very few selections for newer games but the selection for older classic games are HUGE! Cashier was also very friendly and helpful, I HIGHLY recommend this place if you’re looking for that one hidden gem or if you’re just gonna browse around.

This place is great, a huge selection of games from semi-modern all the way back to Atari generation. Prices are reasonable and every game I’ve bought from them has worked. You can even find things like old Nintendo Power magazines from the ’80s. Wish I’d found out about these guys sooner! A nostalgia trip back to memory lane. They had all my childhood games and systems. I had to buy my first Christmas morning videogame that I opened up when I was a kid in 1989. They are friendly and very helpful and always have great stock of games.

38. Verbatim Books

If Verbatim Books was a person, she would be that really close friend with a ton of personality and who doesn’t care a &$*# what anyone else thinks of her.

The bookstore primarily serves the used or second hand market however they DO NOT do business over Instagram or Amazon. You can feel really good about supporting small business, and with a selection of over 35,000 books and zines, you definitely won’t feel limited by the options.

Verbatim is responsible for many of local literary events such as the North Park Book Fair and the San Diego Book Crawl (check out their events page to see the latest!). Although they won’t host individual authors for signings (to avoid favoritism), they host large readings or performances for groups of authors, local authors, musicians, performers, artists, and poets.

39. TC’s Rockets

If you loved the childhood feeling of running down massive toy aisles, digging through comic book stacks, and peering into action figured collectable filled glass cases, then you have something in common with TC’s Rockets owner Steve Lirley.

He created the comic book shop to recreate the joys of childhood for an adult customer. Inside you can find anything and everything geek, nerd, or pop culture related. The shop hosts events for gamers almost every hour of the day – if you’re looking for a strong, welcoming nerd community in San Diego, this is the place to find it.

Additionally, there is a pizza & sub shop next door

Conclusion

Ok townies! We hope you’re ready to get out and try some of these nerdy things in San Diego. Whether you’re a fan of games, film, magical witchcraft, or all of the above, there’s something for everyone in Sunny San Diego.

39 Surprisingly Nerdy Things to do Now in San Diego

Attention all Potterheads, Oompa Loompas, Narnians, Whos (down in Whoville) and just about anyone else you can think of in the nerd-dom who is planning to spend time in San Diego!

Are you looking for something entertaining, fun, and just a tad bit nerdy to do in San Diego?

This guide will show you exactly how to make your next trip to “America’s Finest City” a truly memorable travel experience. All activities are within two hours from the city proper. You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy this list but if you are a nerd, then these activities are definitely for you:

Interest-Based Nerdy Travel Experiences

Standard Travel Needs – Nerdy Style

About The Author

Hi, I’m Kate.

I started planning unique travel experiences way back in 2008.

And I quickly realized that quirky, nerdy experiences were going to be a big part of my travel planning success.

So I set out to explore as much as I could.

And thanks to years of reading and experimenting, I’ve had a ton of success with travel planning…

…including the top 3 performing nerdy guides on this site:

  1. Nerdy Experiences in Washington DC
  2. Nerdy Experiences in Boston
  3. Nerdy Experiences in Los Angeles

Check out these ideas in San Diego and you could have an awesome trip planned within the next 20 minutes.

What are the Top Nerdy Experiences Unique to San Diego?

1. Best Nerd Convention: Comic-Con

Most self-respecting nerds have fantasized about attending the original San Diego comic-con. Nothing can compare joining 130,000 of the most committed fans in the world, wearing full designer cosplay for, four days of unique, immersive pop culture experiences.

If cosplay and rare comic books aren’t your thing, even the most casual nerds will appreciate the breadth of pop culture activities to enjoy:

  • Blockbuster film actors, directors, and crew panels
  • Future potential TV & movie project screenings
  • Unique vendor shops
  • Funky photo ops

Activities appeal to virtually all genre interests including: horror, Western animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, books, sci-fi, and fantasy.

2. Best Nerd Museum: Comic-Con Museum

Connect with the magic of Comic-Con all year round!

The Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park was designed to give nerds and non-nerds alike an opportunity to learn about new art and pop culture. The museum’s mission is to express the unique aggregation of passion, creativity, science, technology, art and imagination found at the convention each year.

Visitors have the opportunity to see memorabilia from comics, Sci-Fi, TV shows, books, video games, anime, and more in classic museum format in addition to participating in classes, activities, movie screenings, trivia contests and programs available online anytime.

3. Best Retro Gaming Bar: Coin Haus

Pour yourself a beer (or a few!) at the self-service beer bar and lose yourself in a warehouse full of classic arcade games. Before you go, make sure to check the website for nightly specials and remember that video games are free during happy hour!

4. Best Childhood Throwback: Dr Seuss Legacy

Photo Credit: Stephen Bay Photography

From early childhood, many of us grew up with the whimsical rhymes, funny illustrations, and imaginative messages of Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. A legacy tribute to the author of the nerdy catchphrase “you have to be odd to be number one” is definitely worthy of this nerdy list.

Theodore Geisel spent many of his working years living and creating in La Jolla, CA. After his death much of his estate was left to UC San Diego.

Today, visitors can immerse themselves in his life and creative inspirations at a few places in La Jolla:

  • Geisel Library at UC San Diego: The Dr Suess Collection (including nearly 20,000 items ranging from original drawings, sketches, proofs, notebooks, and other memorabilia) is typically not available for public viewing, however it is displayed temporarily during March (Dr. Seuss’ birthday) and in the summer.
  • Former Personal Residence: Gifted to UCSD upon his death. 7301 Encelia Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

5. Space Invaders Hunt

This downtown art installation is a reverse of the original Space Invaders game: instead of being charged by aliens, you charge the aliens.

Beginning as an exhibit for the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art called “Viva la Revolution: A Dialogue with the Urban Environment”, this Space Invaders themed installation has become a modern-day scavenger hunt for gamers and treasure hunters alike.

The exhibit featured a French muralist known for creating mosaic murals of the classic space “invader” icon in urban environments. His contribution to the exhibit featured 21 icons around the city. Following the map in the link above, invader-seekers can still find most of the original mosaics as they explore San Diego’s downtown urban landscape.

6. Best Tech Nerd Store: Geeks Candy Shop

If Willy Wonka made IT equipment instead of Chocolate, his factory would look something like Geeks Candy Shop. Although the sweetness only comes from the amazing deals on all things techy (laptops to servers to monitors and even power cables), the knowledgeable staff is very helpful and merchandise well-organized like a candy factory.

Feel like a kid in a candy shop Its like eBay but without the shipping hassles!

7. Best Nerdy Toy Store: ComicKazi

If you like your nerd toys in the way Harry Potter likes his godfather, Serious, then this shop is for you! This high-quality, low-frills shop has everything you need for the best shopping experience imaginable: massive inventory selection, knowledgeable & helpful staff, and fair pricing (even on limited edition release items!).

What are the Best Nerdy Local Cultural Experiences?

8. Essential San Diego Museums

San Diego has a wide variety of museums due to the city hosting the 1915 Panama Exposition. After the exposition, many of the buildings were turned into museums. When selecting museums for your trip, these are our favorites:

**It’s important to note that February is San Diego Museum month where most museums have discounted or free admission.

  • USS Midway Museum – A unique opportunity to see the formerly confidential interiors of one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers of the 20th century. You will tour the ship through the sleeping quarters, engine room, galley, hanger deck and flight deck via a self guided audio tour. We recommend taking time to listen to the tours and presentations by docents, taking a test flight in the simulators, and seeing retired planes on the flight deck. This museum should be a high priority on any San Diego activity list!
  • Fleet Science Center – Experience fundamental science principles in light, perception, physics, technology and engineering. This hands on museum teaches through interactive exhibits that appeal to adults and children alike. Plus there is a 76 foot Imax theater with immersive educational films.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum – The San Diego Natural History Museum (known as NAT) features the ecological, environmental, and biological history of the Southern California and Baja California regions. You will get to see the allosaurus cast (named “Al”), scavenger hunts in Fossil Mysteries, the Foucault Pendulum, drawing skulls on the gigantic chalkboard, movies in the Giant-Screen Theater and more!
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps – As an active research facility, the Birch Aquarium features the most current findings in oceanography. Visitors learn about fishes and invertebrates through hands-on exhibits, outdoor tide pools full of Swell Sharks, Round Rays & Pink Abalone, and expert lead on-site programming.