The largest ear to the sky happens to lie in a tropical paradise, which is also an American territory. The Arecibo Telescope is Puerto Rico’s scientific point of pride and was made famous in movies like Contact and GoldenEye. Geeks can get an up-close glimpse of the world’s largest single-unit radio telescope, which is run by Cornell University and contributes data for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence group. At night, the Casa Grande Mountain Retreat, built on a former coffee plantation, is the perfect terrestrial counterpoint. A four-time Green Inn of the Year, it features just 20 rooms spread over a verdant hillside about a two-hour drive from San Juan. Each room has its own private balcony and hammock. There are over 100 acres for hiking and bird watching when you’re not listening to the sky. The telescope visitor’s center is $10. Rooms are $125 a night at the retreat.
The most renowned meeting of the geeks has become very big business. Each July, the San Diego Comic-Con transforms the convention center – across the street from Petco Park – into a superhero-watching nirvana. Blasting far beyond comic books, the annual event now includes a full range of sci-fi, fantasy, animation, action-adventure, and horror entertainment. An even higher throng of people clamor for the media panels where actors, directors and writers of the top movies and TV shows dish the latest developments with reporters and fans. The Hard Rock Hotel is within easy walking distance from it all and offers a rooftop pool and spa to unwind in after a hard day saving mankind. Each year, tickets for the event (this year’s dates are July 24-27) become increasingly harder to get. Hotels also sell out months in advance. Early planning is essential. Tickets range from $30 to $85 and must be bought through the website. Reservations for downtown hotels open in February and can be sold out by March. Rates this year are expected to range from $200 to $400 per night.
Akihabara’s sprawling shopping district has its own subculture. Gadget geeks mingle with lovers of Japanese anime and manga. A unique mix of Las Vegas and Blade Runner might leave outsiders – gaijin – feeling a little like Bill Murray or Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. But Japan’s diehard fan culture will make a few days spent in the district something to behold. Many of the gadgets and electronics might never make it to the States, but collectors know this is really the cutting-edge, and the international testing ground for these products. After shopping, the Strings by Intercontinental Tokyo offers visitors an unusual amount of space to unwind in the bustling city. You can even see Mt. Fuji on clearer days. Rooms begin at $250 per night.