Beach chair. Check. Sunscreen. Check.
So goes the traditional summer vacation packing list. Followed by a 10-hour drive, too much sun and some necessary R&R. While the classic escape is sure to do the trick for travel fever, less sandy getaways are also attracting attention.
Technology has engineered experiences that would have been inconceivable 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. These novelties may never compete with the majesty of the Grand Canyon or the solitude of the lake, but they’re sure to inspire, engage and entertain.
For the world traveler
Many countries across the globe are finding new ways to incorporate technology into their most beloved attractions. Those exploring the Swiss Alps via Titlis Rotair can enjoy the view from 3,020 meters above sea level in the world’s first revolving gondola. As of November, visitors to the Netherlands can bike the Starry Night Bicycle Path in Nuenen, a city about two hours south of Amsterdam. The solar-powered route boasts 50,000 swirling glow-in-the-dark stones at night as a tribute to the nation’s icon, Vincent van Gogh. Even the Eiffel Tower has recently undergone a face-lift, including solar panels, a glass viewing floor and a museum.
Last year, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg. The architecture itself is notable, but what’s even better is the thoughtful interior design that uses technology in almost every gallery. The museum offers interactive stories from around the world that represent turning points for humanity.
It takes some rather advanced technology to create a theme park as magical as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complete with a fire-breathing dragon. Orlando’s multi-sensory experience uses some of the most innovative technology, including 360-degree themed sets, 4K digital high-definition animation and projection systems. The creative producer touts the high definition systems for creating a seamless and believable environment. And here’s an insider’s secret: Along Diagon Alley, there are hidden interactive sites where visitors can use their wands to create extra special effects.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida, families enjoy what NASA astronauts call the world’s most realistic imitation of a space shuttle launch. The center also offers a simulation of a journey to Mars, astronaut training demos and 3D movies.
For the aspiring techie, Sony Wonder’s Technology Lab in New York City offers hands-on activity stations. The education center is always presenting cutting-edge exhibits, like its Virtual Surgery lab.
Consider ditching the beach trip for your next getaway. Alternative vacations can be educational, cultural and exciting for the whole family. And depending on where the adventure takes you, you may still be able to work on that summer tan.
This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.
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