MadSci Network: Other

Re: What science-based tourist attractions are there in the U.S.?

Date: Tue Jun 30 07:32:04 2009
Posted By: Karin Crowhurst, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry
Area of science: Other
ID: 1242004747.Ot

Hi Steven,

I have never visited Port Macquarie, but I did a little travelling around Australia a couple of years ago. My brother lived in Brisbane, so we went there, to Cairns, to Uluru and Sydney. Beautiful and very interesting! A few too many mosquitos in Brisbane... but otherwise a great trip.

One thing to note if you stay in Los Angeles: you may find it necessary to rent a car, because transit in the city may take you forever to get places, and things like JPL really require a car to get there, so start paractising your right-side driving! Also, do not make the mistake of booking a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Downtown LA has VERY LITTLE (other than homeless people and municipal or government buildings), and is not a good base for a tourist.

The first thing you should know about science stuff is that Florida has Epcot, not California. California has Disneyland and Universal Studios, though, if you're interested in going to those places. However, here are a few ideas on places to visit in California (especially the greater Los Angeles area, where I currently live) - these are in no particular order:

1. if you're really interested in the science component of space exploration, I would strongly recommend going on a tour of the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena. They were involved in the Mars rovers of a few years ago, and the tours are amazing. It is not a tourist attraction (like the Kennedy Space Center is), and therefore the tours have more science and technology substance. Everyone I know who has done the tour has been very excited by it. Their website tour info: (note that you will need to make an advanced reservation for this tour.

2. Griffith Observatory - planetarium and also a great view of Los Angeles. Mostly a very touristy attraction, but interesting Website:

3. Palomar Observatory and Hale Telescope - more science-based, run by Caltech (one of the most influential science universities in the world - JPL is also affiliated with Caltech). Website:

4. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Website:

5. California ScienCenter - located near the natural history museum, just south of the University of Southern California. Website:

6. San Diego Natural History Museum. Website:

7. Edwards Airforce Base. More technology than science, but interesting nontheless. Here is the website part that talks about tours and visiting the museum: but if you go to the main site you can visit the page about the museum, too.

8. Caltech (in Pasadena). They don't have science-based tours, for some reason, but it is a very impressive and beautiful university. Depending on when you go, you could try to get tickets to one of their free-to-the- public events. Website:

9. Walt Disney Family Museum - opens in the fall, but it sounds like it might have some movie-related technology exhibits. Website:

10. Getty Museum - Conservation wing. It you can get a tour of this, it is very cool. Many rooms of scientists (mostly Chemists) doing research in art conservation. Not really open to the public, but you might be able to contact someone and get access. Just visiting the Getty Museum is a Los Angeles experience. Website:

11. The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose),

12. California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco), website:

13. Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences (Washington DC). Nowhere near California, but Washington DC is a great place to go for impressive museums. website:

14. I'm running out of time to write, so here are a few more to investigate: Long Beach Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Exploratorium (San Francisco), Atomic bomb test site (near Las Vegas), Hoover Dam (near Las Vegas)

Not a complete list, of course, but hopefully enough to get your started!

Karin Crowhurst

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