Science Trip

At a dozen surprising sites across this country, discover the beauty, mystery, wildness and audacity of science.

Vacations tend to have themes, even if we don't consciously realize it. There's the search for the most majestic scenery, the highest mountain, the bluest waters — ideally without shoulder-to-shoulder crowds seeking the same thing. There's the roaming of Civil War battlefields, the riding of loop-de-loop roller coasters, the touring of grand estates.

But here’s one theme you may never have countenanced: the science vacation.

The Washington Post asked journalists to visit places that have a scientific backstory. Because from big cities to boondocks, science in its many fascinating forms shows up all across America. We limited our choices to the Lower 48 states and stayed clear of national parks. We also required that sites be open to the public. Otherwise, our criteria were broad and eclectic.

A dozen stops made the final list. Some are primarily notable for their geology, hydrology or seismology. Others feature highly sophisticated technology. A medical landmark is in the mix, as is a fungus immense enough to kill an entire forest.

Pack up and see for yourself. And let us know if there are places you can’t believe we overlooked. Another science trip may be down the road.

—Joel Achenbach

This story contains audio. Press the button below to listen as you read.

  • Fly Geyser
  • Ether Dome
  • Atchafalaya Swamp
  • Green Bank Observatory
  • Earthquake Trail
  • Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania
  • Scopes Monkey Trial
  • Cinder Lake
  • Brookhaven Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
  • Cahokia Mounds
  • Delmarva's Wintering Birds
  • Humongous Fungus