This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. It’s the start of our journey, together, across this great nation of ours (and possibly this globe of ours,) as you get to vicariously live through my exploits into the world of a traveling nerd. I’m blessed to have a big boy job that allows me to explore various cities almost weekly. And what better way to do so than to find the best places to nerd out in each city I visit!
So allow me to introduce you to the first installment of “Where to Nerd.”
What better place for our inaugural (get it) excursion than in our nation’s capital…Washington D.C.!
Obviously the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Washington D.C. is that it’s the home of the United States’ government, many incredible monuments, and some of the best museums in the world. All of these things are true of course and if you haven’t gotten to check out the any of the Smithsonians I highly recommend you do so.
But this article isn’t about the normal stuff that everyone does while in D.C. This is for those of you who consider yourselves adventurous nerds. Here are some of the best places and events I found to get your nerd on if you have a few days to kill in Washington D.C. or the metro area.
While Victory Comics is technically in Falls Church, VA, its worth making the short drive over from D.C. to check out this gem of a shop. Victory Comics has a huge selection of comics, graphic novels, toys and games. They have something for everyone no matter what kind of nerd bone you have. I always like checking out shops in different cities because you can sometimes find some items that you can’t get back at home. Victory Comics has an enormous selection of new comics, graphic novels and books from all of the major names of course, but they also have some titles that you might not have come across before and can create a new favorite. I also enjoyed the trade in items (including a record that had 5 Spiderman audio stories on it.) It was also great walking in on a Saturday morning and seeing a large group of kids having fun playing Pokémon in the gaming area that Victory has inside of their building. A lot of stores do this now by providing a place for people to gather to play Pokémon or Magic or any of the other card games and Victory is no different. They also have special events going on all the time so be sure to check out their website to see if they have something fun happening when you’re in the area.
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoryComics/
Another spot that’s just outside of downtown D.C. is over in Springfield, VA and its a haven for the hardcore gamer. The Curio Cavern is especially exciting if you find yourself staying up into the early morning hours, competing against your friends or family because its open for gaming until at least 1am every night and even later on weekends. They have buy-in Magic tournaments of all types throughout the week as well as other games such as X-Wing miniatures. If there is a new version of a game or an expansion pack that’s coming out, Curio Cavern will let you call in a pick up order (almost as good as pizza!) or even preregister for a game night over the phone.
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Curio-Cavern-118801118183989/
BILBO BAGGINS GLOBAL RESTAURANT
Now with all the gaming and comic reading that you can do on this trip, you have to make time for a good meal, right!? Well you don’t have to settle for fast food and miss a beat on your nerd adventure because I’ve found a perfect place that fits right into the journey. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan like myself, you’ve probably always wanted to have a drink and a bite at The Green Dragon which was frequented by our Hobbit heroes in the Shire. This just happens to be your opportunity for a taste of that experience! I came across this restaurant as I was looking for lunch in Alexandria, VA, which is just across the Potomac River from D.C. and I was so happy that I found it. Nestled in the Old Town area of Alexandria, Bilbo Baggins Global Restaurant looks like it could be pulled straight out of the pages of Tolkien, except with a modern twist. There are references to the LotR movies all over the place as you might imagine. You can grab a pint of brew in a glass that has the Green Dragon logo (which I was VERY tempted to slip under my shirt and carry home with me.) They have various Lord of the Rings themed cocktails for you to try out. Just make sure you have a ride home after your night at Bilbo Baggins. And its perfectly acceptable if your Uber happens to be a giant eagle.
LABYRINTH GAMES & PUZZLES
I know I’ve been preaching about how this is “Where to Nerd” in D.C. and then none of these places are technically located in D.C. Well if you’ve been weirdly holding your breath waiting for a store located inside of the White House you’ll be sad to know that one hasn’t quite been approved yet (though how awesome would it be to see Obama dropping folks in Star Wars Fighters in the Oval Office.) However, there is a really cool location that you need to check out if you’re hanging out around the Capital Hill area. Run into Labyrinth Games & Puzzles that’s in the heart of downtown D.C. If you happen to be visiting the monuments but also wanna get your nerd on, this is a perfect sport for you. Labyrinth has a great selection of Role Playing games, Board games, and even unique chess sets, plus a ton more. They have a newly expanded play space so you can always swing by get a few rounds of your favorite game in and still make it to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence before Nicholas Cage saves it from Ned Stark.
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/labyrinthgameshop/
NATIONAL CRYPTOLOGIC MUSEUM
For this last place, I asked local self-professed nerds where a great spot to tell our readers about that most wouldn’t think about and they seemed to agree that you have to check out the National Cryptologic Museum up the road from D.C. in Annapolis, MD (also home of the Naval Academy.) For those who may not be familiar with the term “cryptology”, it is the study of creating or deciphering codes. If you’re ever seen A Beautiful Mind and/or The Imitation Game then you know what this entails. But the National Cryptologic Museum is directly affiliated with the NSA (National Security Agency) and details the history of Cryptology and the impact that it has had on our country and the world, which I find incredibly cool. Its even dubbed as “the first and only museum in the Intelligence Community.”
So as you can see, D.C. isn’t just for the history nerd. Its for nerds of all interests! If you find yourself making a trip to Washington D.C. or the area around it, I hope this little guide helps you enjoy your nerdcation that much more.
Stay tuned for more cities including a check into the Rockies next week.
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