Seattle is home to many things (including Starbucks, grunge, and logging). So it comes as no surprise that the Pacific Northwest’s “Emerald City” proudly embraces yet another subculture: nerdom. Between it being a Silicon-Valley-rivaling tech city hub (thanks to the likes of Amazon and Microsoft) and the stage for a slew of expos like PAX and Geek Girl Con, it makes sense that nerd-kind is hopping flights to Seattle in record numbers. And it has the bustling arcade bars and historic comic book shops to prove it!
But with so many geeky things to do and see in Seattle, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed. Fear not, nerds! We’ve put together a geeky guide for visiting the city that will liberate your inner fanboy and leave you screaming “excelsior!”
Start Your Day Off at the Seattle Pinball Museum
If you’re a fan of the silver ball, then why not get warmed up at the Seattle Pinball Museum? You can witness the evolution of the pinball machine first-hand, from the machine’s birth in 1960 to the present day. The coolest part is that the museum is hands-on, so you can admire the artwork, the craftsmanship, and relish in the buzzers and bells of good old-fashioned machines up close and personal. Admission is $15 and comes with unlimited games. So put down the iPad and become a pinball wizard for a day!
Check Out Golden Age Collectables
In addition to an already impressive collection of amazing comic book shops, Seattle has the honor of being home to the oldest comic book shop in America! Golden Age Collectables has been around and refused to grow up since 1971. Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, this historic shop carries a vast selection of comic and pop culture merchandise. You’ll find movie scripts, 1-sheets, life-size standees, Japanese toys, 8×10 photos of celebrities, and vintage Star Wars toys. From lightsabers to Bobbleheads, this shop has you and your nerd cave covered.
You Have to Stop by One of the Arcade & Pinball Bars
If you want to take a trip back in time, enjoy a brew, and start racking up some points, then head downtown and check out GameWorks. This family-friendly arcade is home to a huge collection of racing games, arcade games, old-school classics, and even gaming tickets that you can trade in for prizes. You’ll want to have your next birthday party here for sure! If you were after something a little simpler and a little more local, then stop by one of the many pinball bars Seattle has to offer. Shorty’s is the perfect place to enjoy some pinball action while juggling a delicious hotdog and an ice-cold beer. John John’s Game Room offers a more intimate pinball experience, with a good selection of machines and a must-see PacMan setup. And, if you’ve still got change in your pocket, pop next door for dessert at the Pie Bar.
Next Up, the Living Computers: Museum + Labs
If you thought computers pre-internet where over-sized pieces of junk, then think again, because there’s nothing obsolete about the captivating Living Computers: Museum + Labs. Located in the city’s industrial district, the museum honors the history of computing with the world’s largest collection of fully restored (and usable) supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers. Even if you can’t remember blinking green cursors and black, app-free screens, this museum has something for you. A new main gallery offers direct experiences with robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, big data, and more. Visitors also get $5 off to MoPOP (and free admission to Everett’s Flying Heritage Collection) for up to a week after their visit. Admission is just $12 and children under 5 get in for free!
Don’t Miss the Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a non-profit museum that is dedicated entirely to pop culture. Here you can explore rock ‘n’ roll history and imaginary worlds all under one big, super-modern roof. Whether you’re inspecting the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from The Wizard of Oz, taking a peek at an original manuscript page from Game of Thrones, or playing guitar to a crowd of screaming virtual fans, you won’t leave disappointed. The museum is also home to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, where you can pay tribute to the genre’s greatest creators, from Mary W. Shelley to David Bowie. This place is the Mecca of pop culture, and even though admission is quite pricey ($30), you’ll be spoiling your inner nerd with discovery, inspiration, and some serious nostalgia.
Before You Leave, See the Space Needle
No trip to Seattle is complete without visiting its most iconic landmark (plus it does have “space” in the title). Starting its existence as a sketch on a cocktail napkin, the futuristic Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and is a testament to innovation and “what if” thinking. Sitting at an impressive 520 feet, you can soak up a stunning view of the city from its flying-saucer-like observation deck. Better yet, this fascinating tower is only a two-minute walk from the MoPop and is the perfect way to cap off the day. Admission prices range from $14 to $22. No spacesuit required.
If You Have the Time, Go to the AFK Tavern
Although not technically in Seattle, this place is too good to not be mentioned. Located in Everett, Washington (which is a 30-minute drive North of Seattle), the AFK Tavern is a community center for nerds, gamers, and geeks alike. And just like any good MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), the AFK Tavern is run completely by a dedicated online community. That’s right – over 20,000 people communicate every week to determine theme nights and collaborate on a drink menu with over 100 custom cocktails! From games, arcades, computers, and consoles to uniquely themed food and drinks, the AFK Tavern is a nerd’s paradise. So head on up to Everett, order yourself a 1UP Burger or a Polyjuice Potion and stay awhile!
Have a suggestion on something more to squeeze into the ultimate geeky day out in Seattle? Let us know in the comments below!