Hello Nerdylicious Brigrade!
It’s been far too long since I’ve shared with you, and for that I apologize. I had a zombie preparedness blog article that I was working on, but put that on hold to redo the book covers for two romantic, short stories I published on Amazon about 4.5 years ago. I accomplished that and offered one of the stories for free for a promotion last weekend. According to my lone reviewer, it wasn’t good. I was heartbroken. I’d had positive feedback from a few readers, which gave me the confidence I needed to self-publish. But it was the motivation I needed to research a new story that I hope to work on during Camp NaNoWriMo this weekend.
While I was dealing with all of that, it occurred to me I’d forgotten about something important in the nerdylicious girl’s world: Vacation time!
Yes, it’s time to think about—and possibly plan with real goals—a fun vacation. If this is you, here’s my advice: Don’t get stuck in a vacation rut this year. Unleash your inner nerd girl by visiting some really cool places where your favorite fandom is alive and well. Some destinations have tours that specifically cater to tourists who want to see production sites and film locations from movies and TV shows. Or, they offer the chance to break out on your own to explore at your own pace. Regardless of the details, these six vacation spots are going to make you thankful for being you.
New Zealand-Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies
It’s impossible to forget the first time you saw the awe-inspiring scenery of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Scene after scene showed the jaw-dropping landscape of Middle Earth as the ring guardian and his companions traveled their arduous journey. And, that beauty continues in The Hobbit. Fortunately, Middle Earth is just a few plane rides away in New Zealand. As a tourist, you’ll have an opportunity to travel across the country to all the sites where the movies were filmed. The entire trilogy series of all the novels were shot in New Zealand, so there are plenty of stops to keep you fangirling and happy. All of the movie sets have been dismantled with the exception of Hobbiton, which remains a permanent fixture in Matamata. If you love Tolkien-lore and the outdoors, New Zealand is the perfect vacation spot for you.
Northern Islands-Game of Thrones
Photo credit: Northern Ireland Tourism Board
Who knew that six years ago the Game of Thrones—a TV show based on the fantasy novel series by George R. R. Martin—would become the small screen juggernaut that it is today. The books are set in a multitude of locations ranging from the chilly castle of Winterfell to the lush fields of the Dothraki grasslands. While some footage for the TV show is shot across Europe, most of the scenes are filmed in Northern Island. The landscape here is undeniably beautiful with such distinguished terrains that you’ll swear you are in a different country at each location. Visitors have access to just about every film site with opportunities to enjoy local food and drink along the way. Can you hear the old gods calling to you from the Godswood? Then, a trip to Northern Ireland is a must. (Don’t forget your obsidian dagger in case you-know-who shows up.)
Redwood National and State Parks-Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
The Force is definitely strong with this American destination. Perhaps that’s what attracted George Lucas to the Redwood National and State Parks to film the forest scenes on Endor in Return of the Jedi. The earliest record of redwoods in the coastal area was 20 million years ago. The current trees are only a few thousand years old, but that doesn’t make them any less remarkable. They are the tallest trees on Earth. That’s kind of a big deal. Park visitors can participate in a number of outdoor activities. But of course, the big nerd attraction is roaming through the forests as an Ewok. The park is still home to reservations for several Native American tribes whose ancestry can be traced back to over 3000 years ago. Some of the tribes offer handmade souvenirs to purchase, and dance demonstrations in the summer. So, visiting Redwood National and State Parks is an experience rich in history, culture, and fandom well-suited for a family of explorers. Ewoks would approve.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park-Avatar
Every once in awhile, us movie-goers are treated to a film that completely blows our minds with an artistic brilliance. Avatar is one of those films. James Cameron took film making to a whole new level with Avatar, creating equipment specifically for crafting his movie magic. The result was a beautiful moon with landscapes that transported you to a fantastical place out of this world. But, you’ll be happy to know that there are Avatar locations well within this world ready for you to visit. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the site for the fictional Hallelujah Mountains. In real life, the park offers breathtaking views with hiking and exploring tours. The park is also home to the Glass Bridge, a recent attraction that is sure to provide some memorable, heart-stopping moments. The Na’vi in you is ready for a spectacular adventure. Now go fly with the mountain banshees.
Hawaii-Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, et al.
The list of movies filmed on the gorgeous islands of Hawaii has many notable titles that range from the Hollywood classic From Here to Eternity to the epic drama Pearl Harbor. No one really needs a reason to visit Hawaii. But nerdylicious gals might be excited to see the places where their favorite dinosaurs and archaeologist once roamed. The film Jurassic Park was shot on three different islands: Maui, Oahu, and Niihau A.K.A “Forbidden Island”. The temple scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was shot on Kauai. These locations each offer an unforgettable tourist experience with the most unique being the “Forbidden Island”. Access to Niihau is limited to the island’s owners and village residents. But the owners, brothers Bruce and Keith Robinson, do offer beach excursions and hunting safaris. These tours don’t come cheap. A half-day excursion is $440 person, while the day-long hunting safaris start at $1950 per person. For a less extravagant adventure, try Kualoa Ranch on Oahu (Jurassic Park) or Kipu Ranch on Kauai (Raiders of the Lost Ark). Paradise is waiting for you. Craving a little paradise? Pack your tank top and flip flops, and go have a roaring, whip-wielding, good time.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Harry Potter
J. K. Rowling took the world by storm when her novel about the boy who lived was published 20 years ago. It’s amazing how this author went from being a struggling single mom to a billionaire. Her wizarding brand has gone from books to movies to an interactive website to a play and, most importantly, to a theme park at Universal Orlando. Harry Potter movies were filmed in England and Scotland. If flying across the pond isn’t within your vacation budget, you can take a trip to Florida for a fun, Hogwarts adventure. Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and Hogwarts Express are all attractions you can explore that take you into the Harry Potter world. I mean, they have interactive wands you can purchase that do spells in Diagon Alley. Interactive wands! How awesome is that? If you’re doing an extended stay, check out the other attractions at Universal Orlando, including the new water park. Your patronus doesn’t have to be the ocean-loving kind to enjoy this magical destination. Apparate to Florida straightaway.
Don’t get stuck with a mediocre vacation this year. Take advantage of these nerdylicious destinations that will offer you, family, and friends memories they will never forget.