Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the standoff between USA and the Soviet Union known as the Cold War raged on. The Cold War brought with it a nuclear arms race and both nations tested nuclear weapons with heavy yields. Largest American detonation being Castle Bravo at 15 megatons and the largest ever being the Russian Tsar Bomba at 50 megatons. These explosions were so massive that their shockwaves cracked windows thousands of miles away and circled the earth multiple time while incinerating everything within the blast radius followed by deadly nuclear fallout.
Well, the times have changed, and humanity is a little less inclined towards self-destruction. The craze of creating nuclear weapons has worn off but the sites of these detonations still represent the power of nuclear energy. Fortunately for us, some of these places are safe to visit! So here is a list of destinations that offer nuclear tourism:
Chernobyl represents the most famous nuclear reactor meltdown which occurred in 1986, as well as the notorious coverup that followed. In 2011, the Ukrainian government deemed Chernobyl safe for tourism and since then, tourists have been pouring in. Visitors can tour parts of Chernobyl, as well as some parts of a reactor for a truly unique experience. You can learn about how and why the tragedy occurred as well as of the heroic acts which helped contain the damage.
2. Nevada Test Site
USA’s on-continent nuclear testing area in Nevada is home to a massive 320-foot crater from a nuclear detonation, as well as a small city that exists solely to test the effects of nuclear weapons, known as ‘doom town’. Both the sites are open to tourists and are completely safe for exploration.
3. Hiroshima, Japan
The first city to be annihilated by a nuclear weapon and one of the only two in history, Hiroshima is more than just a city. On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the bomb known as "Little Boy" onto the city, destroying almost 5 square miles of Hiroshima and killing 30 percent of the city's population. Today, tourists can visit Hiroshima Peace Site and the Atomic Bomb Dome. The domed building was gutted by the bomb, and all the people inside it died instantly. Today the dome is a United Nations World Heritage Site and serves as a symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
4. Nagasaki, Japan
On Aug. 9, 1945, Nagasaki became the site of the second and final wartime use of a nuclear weapon. 74,000 people lost their lives and the scenes from the city were nothing short of a Hollywood post-apocalyptic setting. Visitors can tour the Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims and visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the Peace Park.
5. Titan Missile Museum
Ever thought you could get to see an actual nuclear missile in its missile silo? Welcome to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Ariz. The only publicly accessible Titan II missile silo in the United States. Visit this museum and you will experience a simulated launch in the command center, walk through 3-ton blast doors, tour the underground missile site and see an actual Titan II missile in the launch duct. The 110-foot-tall missile is harmless now but weighed 170 tons when it was fueled and ready to launch.
Nuclear weapons are no joke and the destruction they’ve caused has left a black mark on the history of humanity. But if there is one thing these sites of nuclear tourism stand for, it’s that no matter how terrible the disaster, humanity moves on. These sites won’t merely be stories for you to tell your friends but will leave a lasting impression in your mind. So if you’re in for a unique vacation, you know what to do!