Blast Off to Captain Kirk's Birthplace in Riverside, Iowa

Star Trek fans have spent the last few decades "Trekking" to Riverside, Ia., to witness the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. Never mind that Kirk has yet to be born (the big day is March 22, 2228) or that the location of Kirk's birth was chosen by locals to promote the town's annual festival. It's an out-of-this-world good time and only a two-hour drive from Des Moines.

How it started
Riverside, like many small cities, hosts an annual festival that's a big draw for visitors from miles around. In 1985, Riverside officials jumped on the chance to proclaim their town Kirk's birthplace to gain publicity for the community. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had indicated that Kirk was born in Iowa, and no other town had claimed him yet, so why not?

What to see
There's a stash of Star Trek memorabilia to be unearthed in the Voyage Home Museum at 361 E. First St. Hours are usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. But call (319) 648-2226 just to be sure. Admission is free. Outside, you'll find a model of the "U.S.S. Riverside" that makes a great photo op. Murphy's Bar and Grill has a sign in its back room proclaiming it as the place where Captain Kirk's parents, will, ahem, create the future leader of the Enterprise. Kirk's future birthplace is marked by a monument behind the New Image Salon at 51 W. First St.

The big party
Trekfest, the town's annual celebration, is June 24 and 25 this year and will celebrate 50 years of Star Trek. Expect this year's events to include a main parade as well as a children's procession, a sci-fi swap meet, trivia and costume contests, lots of food and a beer garden. Watch the website for details.

Don't miss
Enjoy burgers and other pub fare while you're at Murphy's Bar and Grill. Stop at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort just outside of town for some gaming fun and to sample the restaurants there. The casino also offers the closest hotel rooms to Riverside if you plan to make an overnight trip of your visit.

Melanie Lageschulte is a freelance writer and editor. She is an Iowa native and has lived in Des Moines for 15 years.