A new craze is sweeping the country and it can add a really fun dimension to your next family vacation. The Pokémon GO app was downloaded more than 30 million times in its first few weeks, proving that nostalgia coupled with fresh new take on smartphone apps can truly capture the imagination of the public.
What is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a free mobile app based on the popular Pokémon anime series, card trading game, video games, and toys created by Nintendo in the 1990s. The app follows the basic Pokémon premise, where "trainers" catch Pokémon, which are animated monsters based on animals, such as turtles and rats, or fantasy creatures, such as dragons. When playing Pokémon GO, you are the trainer, and your goal is to catch as many of Pokémon as you can.
While Pokémon video games are played on Nintendo handheld devices, Pokémon GO can be downloaded for free on any Apple or Android phone. Part scavenger hunt, part augmented-reality game, Pokémon GO works with your phone's GPS and camera. After creating your avatar, you will see a cartoon-like version of Google Maps with real-life landmarks replaced with Pokémon-style buildings and Pokémon creatures appearing on your screen. The type of Pokémon depend on your location. If you're in the woods, for example, you might spy bug-like Pokémon, while a trip to the beach may bring fish-like Pokémon. The goal is to catch and collect all the Pokémon that you find.
There are multiple layers to the game, including the ability to acquire helpful items at PokéStops, which are organized meet-ups between players. For example, you might pick up incense to lure Pokémon to you, or Pokéballs, which are used to catch wild Pokémon, or potions that help your Pokémon do battle at PokéGyms.
How to Play on Vacation
Whether you are nostalgic for the Pokémon you played in the 1990s or your kids are discovering Pokémon now, Pokémon GO is a fun activity to add to your family vacation, and it won't cost a penny. The gist of the game is easy to pick up, and your family can have fun collecting different Pokémon in towns and cities you visit.
It's a great way to motivate less-than-enthusiastic tweens and teens out to explore. Pokémon GO is not a sedentary activity. It requires walking to find and catch Pokémon, and is a really easy way to get in your steps for the day. In fact, it's been reported that Pokemon GO has led to a "population-level" surge in personal fitness tracker step counts.
Museums and libraries are encouraging visitors through their doors by promising the chance to catch rare Pokémon. Many city landmarks, memorials, and public artworks are PokéStops and PokéGyms, which makes the game a great way to get out and explore a new place.
Tourism organizations of major destinations are getting on board and helping visitors find Pokémon. For example, Visit Florida points visitors to Pokemon hot spots.
Discounts and Deals
But wait—there's more. There's an added incentive to play because attractions, restaurants, retail stores, and businesses of all kinds—from Florida to California—are offering deals, promotions,and special events. As you're exploring a city or town, the app can alert you to opportunities, such as a discount on an item or the chance to catch more Pokémon.
Here are some examples of how attractions are offering Pokémon perks:
- In Florida, Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa have hosted special events where Pokémon lures (which attract Pokémon) are dropped at specified times and locations.
- Six Flags Theme Parks have become prime hunting ground for fans to find Pokéstops, gyms, and wild Pokémon. Parks, such as Six Flags America, have created Pokémon GO guides for guests.