You might think that the home of Tevatron, the world's second largest particle accelerator, would be off-limits to the public, but in reality, the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) not only welcomes visitors but goes to great lengths to make particle physics accessible to everyone. And for visitors that make the trek to the 6,800-acre home of Fermilab, located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Chicago, a journey exploring the nature of matter and the very beginning of the universe awaits. Groups of 10 or more can take a private tour of Wilson Hall, the central lab, and get a view of the grounds from 15 floors up before checking out exhibits like a full-scale model of a section of the resident particle accelerator. Guests can also tour the Linear Accelerator Building and peek at Tevatron's control room.
For younger crowds, the Lederman Science Center hosts exhibits and classes designed specifically for families, proving that you're never too young to learn about particle physics. Better yet, on the first Sunday of every month except February, the facility hosts an "Ask-a-Scientist" day, where a physicist takes visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility while personally fielding their math and science questions. And once your brain is finally exhausted from pondering the mysteries of the universe, you can take a relaxing hike along Fermilab's prairie trails to check out buffalo and other wildlife.
That brings us to the end of our science road trip. We've explored the distant past and the distant future, Earth and outer space, all sorts of plants and animals and, of course, a lot of United States. Who knew getting smarter could be so much fun?