Chicago for Geeks?

So, I’ve lived in Chicago (now Evanston) for the past seven years and I’m a pretty great tourguide, if I do say so myself. I know all the local tricks, the spots that are must-sees for first time visitors (Art Institute, the B’Hai Temple in Wilmette), and the places that are fine to be avoided (Sears Tower). However, my youngest brother is visiting in May for the first time and I’m stumped on what to suggest for him because he’s really not interested in most “touristy” stuff at all.

He is a huge “geek” in the best sense of the word… He’s 22 and really into video games, D&D, ninjas, ren faires, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. Sound familiar Dopers?

I have plenty of non-touristy stuff in my back pocket (neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, comedy, etc) but I’m hoping someone might have a good suggestion or two of places I’d never think of to take him. Oddball museums, historical locations, etc… Let’s hear your ideas!

May is too early for the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which doesn’t start up until early July.

There’s a great game store in Mount Prospect called Games Plus. He might enjoy spending some time browsing there (they have a tremendous selection, including a lot of obscure and out-of-print stuff), and they have a big gaming room in the back.

Not necessarily geek-centric, but he might love Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, if he’s into participatory entertainment.

Not sure how easy this is for only two people w/o education credentials, but how about visiting Fermilab? It’s only about 50 miles away from you guys. I certainly annoyed my girlfriend to no end on our flight into Chicago when I excitedly pointed out the Tevatron ring to her…

Has he read The Devil in the White City? If so, there might be some World’s Fair/Serial Killer tours that could be pretty damn geeky.

The Museum of Surgical Science is generally pretty cool, except right now they have a very sub-par BodyWorlds rip off there. Some of their regular stuff is still on display, but much of the floor space is taken up with plasticized bodies in a distressing state of disrepair. Maybe they’ll be gone by May.

There’s a 19th century “village” in Naperville that’s supposed to be pretty cool. 13 acres, living reenactment kinda thing. Naper Settlement. I haven’t been there myself, but Yelplikes it. It sounds a bit anachronistic, but it doesn’t sound like he minds anachronism.

Speaking of things anachronistic, the northern Chicago SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) group is Vanished Wood. They have activities and meetings even during the winter, and by May they should be cranking into high gear. Guests are welcome.

Too Much Light is a good idea. Also, it’s almost too obvious to mention, but the Museum of Science and Industry is great geek bait, if only for the submarine.

American Science & Surplus. He might have to extend his trip.

The Hologram Museum is kinda dumb, but it’s fun.

Geeky tourists still like to see and do things that are not tailored to stereotypical geek preferences. Why don’t you ask your brother what he wants to do? He may already have a few places that he wants to see (everyone wants to go up the Sears Tower, don’t deny him the pleasure or call him a… geek… for wanting to see it).

Then you could fill in the blanks with quirky stuff if there’s time left over.

That made me think of the ol’ standby Medieval Times. (and they have a twofer on their website). But if he’s not into touristy…well, then I don’t know. Then again Ren Fests are kinda touristy.

AS&S is a great suggestion! I’ve been many times and can’t believe I didn’t think of it. I think he’d love it too!

He went to MT in California once on a school trip and loved it and he actually mentioned wanting to go again and my reply was “Go rent a car then, cuz I’m not driving you to Schaumberg for that.” I took my family to the show just a month or so ago so we’re not ready for another go at it. :slight_smile:

An aside… My favorite part of MT was the torture device museum. Crazy cool, though they should have warned me when I bought my $2 ticket that I’d have to end up explaining to my 9 year old son what a chastity belt is and why there were spiked holes in two different spots. (don’t worry, my explanation was just - “those are there to hurt your privates” and that’s as deep as I went down that rabbit hole.)

My brother is ADHD/Tourettes/maybeautistic/Justkindofageneraloddball and his reply to these questions were “I don’t want to do any of that stuff.” I even tried to sell him on how cool the museums were, including MSI, and he said “Museums are boring.”

He MIGHT be interestd in the Art Institute, but only if they have their armour/weapons exhibit on display. He has no real interest in the art.

I should mention that I don’t feel obligated to show him anything. If he doesn’t want to do stuff, I’m not gonna force him. I just like to give people options that they might not have thought of, but if they’d rather just hang out at my place the entire time they’re here - that’s their call.

The Parthenon on South Halsted.

Oh, for Geeks.

Did you specifically mention the captured German U-Boat (and Enigma machine)?

Bolding mine…

Believe me, not everyone.

The first thing he said when planning this trip was “I don’t want to go to the Sears Tower. I did the Empire State Building and I don’t need to see another tall building.” Of course, being the awesome local that I am, suggested the Hancock for drinks in the Signature Room since it ends up being about the same cost, you get to chill out with a drink or two, and the views are much better than at the Sears Tower.

I’ve had many other friends visit that had zero interest in going to the Sears Tower. It’s kind of a giant pain in the ass for not much reward except to say you did it.

Oh, also, I’m a geek - but just in different ways than my bro. I don’t use that term in a derogatory way at all. Most “geeks” I know are quite proud of the label.

Nicely done, sir.

Dinner or lunch in Greektown or Chinatown would be fantastic though.

All great ideas - esp the SCA. I’ll keep an eye on their calendar and see if they end up doing anything while he’s here. Thanks!!!

I’m a geek and I WAY dug the signature room. Especially at night. Hell of a crush up there, and the drinks aren’t cheap. But it’s great fun. I had quite a memorable 21st birthday there :slight_smile:

Ooo, make him do a Segway tour!

Are there any Underground Chicago tours active? Those are pretty cool. has some great tours. I’d see the serial killers tour myself, but the weird & haunted tour gets good reviews, too.