summer travel cover

Unplugged Escapes

Spend seven days in silence, gaze up at the night sky, and sharpen your blacksmithing skills—this year, our summer travel guide is all about disconnecting from daily life.

According to a 2017 survey by eMarketer, the average adult spends 12 hours a day connected to media. Half your day is spent tied to a device. Isn’t it time to say enough? Enough apps. Enough emails. Enough cable news.

With that in mind, we compiled a list of places where you can unplug—fully immerse yourself in a moment that doesn’t involve downloads or pop-ups. Whether you have an hour or a week, these places are ideal for stepping away. Maybe that means an island perfect for taking in the sky without the cloud, or simply a museum where you can ponder masterpieces, not emojis. Whatever your time or taste, just disconnect. We think you’ll come back more charged than your phone.


Space Out

Kitt Peak National Observatory

Pima County, AZ

Launch into space from a mere 6,877 feet—without leaving earthly comforts behind. Built on a mountaintop in the Sonoran Desert, the observatory sits on the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation, about an hour southwest of Tucson. The facility houses one of the world’s largest collections of research telescopes and offers nighttime observation programs. Amateur astronomers will learn to identify constellations with star charts, while seasoned stargazers can hunt for planets, galaxies, and star clusters through intensive telescope-viewing.

+ We also love Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

Turn Off the Lights


San Francisco

In 1965, Doug McEachern and Stan Shaff leased out a small storefront and opened Audium, an electronic sound art event played in a completely dark 44-speaker room. The experience has grown in the past 53 years, with nature sounds now whooshing and crashing and whirring out of 176 speakers as unsuspecting audience members listen in. Even though it’s grown, don’t worry: It’s still in complete darkness.

Go for a Walk in the Park

Forest Park

St. Louis

Finding respite in the heart of most cities may seem unimaginable, but St. Louis’ Forest Park is proof to the contrary. Home to 45,000 trees and a 75-foot waterfall, the nearly 1,400-acre public space serves as a natural oasis. Park visitors will find hiking trails and birdwatching hot spots throughout John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest, as well as seasonal foliage on display in the Jewel Box, the park’s glass-encased flower conservancy.

+ We also love Schenley Park in Pittsburgh; Balboa Park in San Diego

Test Out Your Tree Pose

Besthoff Sculpture Garden

New Orleans

Even in a city as lively as New Orleans, there are still ways to steal quiet time. Center yourself amidst tranquil Spanish moss and 64 works of art at Besthoff Sculpture Garden, where the New Orleans Museum of Art holds yoga every Saturday.

Take a long lunch // Indulge your inner artist at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. Each ArtFULL Wednesday brings different hour-long activities—workshops, gallery talks, food-and-art pairings—and is tied to a current exhibition or work in the collection. Quiet your mind while surrounded by Himalayan artifacts at The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Weekly Mindfulness Meditation sessions run for 45 minutes and are open to all skill levels. Can’t be there in person? There’s a podcast version, too. On the second and third Friday of every month, The Baroque Room in St. Paul, Minnesota, puts on a free lunchtime concert series, where the musical acts range from string quartets to avant-garde guitarists.


Hike It Out

Snow Canyon State Park

Ivins, UT

Stretching across 7,400 acres, Snow Canyon State Park is known for its lava flows and red and white Navajo sandstone cliffs. Choose a way of getting around—by foot, wheels, or horseback—and explore the desert landscape, from the petrified sand dunes to Whiterocks Natural Amphitheater. It’s impossible to cover it all in a day, so pitch a tent and stay at one of 17 multiuse sites in the park.

Bask in Nature

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Chaska, MN

Thirty minutes from Minneapolis, this horticultural hot spot is the perfect place to master Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese mindfulness practice also known as “forest bathing.” On Saturdays, a certified nature therapist guides a group on an hour-and-a-half walkabout designed to open the senses through interaction with the 5,000-plus plant species and varieties.

Kick It Old School

Adirondack Folk School

Lake Luzerne, NY

Spoon-carving, candle-making, blacksmithing—this isn’t a typical course catalog. At Adirondack Folk School, classes teach the region’s traditional arts and crafts, turning the clock back on technology and allowing students to stretch their creativity in new ways. An added bonus: The school is nestled between the Hudson River and Lake Luzerne, unlocking access to ideal spots for introspection.

+ We also love Arbutus Folk School in Olympia, Washington

Go Island-Hopping

Casco Bay Islands

Casco Bay, ME

Launching from Portland, Casco Bay Lines provides ferry rides to seven islands off Maine’s rugged coast. Kayak at Peaks Island, sail near Chebeague Island, or explore Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island—remember, although the sights may be photo-worthy, leave your phone behind (or at least in your pocket).

+ We also love St. Simons Island in Georgia; San Juan Islands in Washington


Zip Around the Treetops

Cypress Valley Canopy Tours

Spicewood, TX

Glide through the Texas Hill Country and get a bird’s-eye-view of the old-growth trees found just 30 miles west of Austin. Open to amateurs and experienced tree explorers, tours include five zip lines and two sky bridges. Zip line by moonlight during a night excursion or cool off in the lake—which comes with its own zip line and rope swing—after a daytime tour. For an overnight adventure, book one of the treehouses and sleep among the stars.

+ We also love Soaring Tree Top Adventures in Durango, Colorado; Hocking Hills Canopy Tours in Rockbridge, Ohio

Escape to Seaside Serenity

Carova Beach

Currituck County, NC

In the northernmost tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks lies Carova Beach, arguably the most secluded region of all the barrier islands. Renowned for its miles of privacy, Carova is only accessible by unpaved beach roads. Keep an eye out for the wild horses that roam the beach, as well as the stunning assortment of seashells lining the coast.

+ We also love Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach, Florida; Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Wine Down

The Vintages Trailer Resort

Dayton, OR

Nestled in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country, The Vintages Trailer Resort boasts 31 retro trailers, all revamped to include modern amenities while still retaining their original charm. Relax by the pool, fire up the grill, pick wild blackberries, and even play a lawn game or two. Hop on a cruiser bike and pedal into town, where you’ll find easy access to more than 300 nearby vineyards.

+ We also love Kate’s Lazy Desert in Landers, California; El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas

Unwind // Along with in-suite services and an infinity pool, The Palms in Turks and Caicos boasts creative treatments like the “Mother of Pearl Scrub,” an exfoliating blend of sea salt and hand-crushed conch shells. The Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas offers jade enzyme facials, as well as a two-hour “Journey into Stillness” that starts with relinquishing your phone to the front desk. The subterranean spa at The Joule in Dallas is inspired by Earth’s geothermal energy and features a crystal steam room and a vitality pool with built-in air massage loungers. The “High Mountain Foot Recovery” reflexology massage at Hotel Park City in Park City, Utah, is the ultimate reward after that 12-mile hike. The mountainside pool ain’t bad either.


Quiet Down

Springwater Center

Springwater, NY

You know what they say: Silence is golden. That’s never more apparent than at Springwater Center, where seven-day silent retreats encourage a little less conversation. Guests can walk secluded trails through New York’s Finger Lakes region, visit the library and solarium, and meditate. Don’t think you can zip it for a week? The center holds three-and four-day retreats, too.

+ We also love Siddhayatan in Windom, Texas

Go for a Dip

Arenal Hot Springs

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Unplugging is as much about maintaining a certain mindset as it is taking action, and Costa Rica’s la pura vida epitomizes that mentality. And there’s no better place than La Fortuna to embrace a laid-back lifestyle. About three hours from San Jose, the town is home to Arenal Volcano and plenty of hot springs. Relax at Baldi Hot Springs, and don’t skip Arenal Volcano National Park.

Design Your Own Getaway

Far and Away Adventures

Sun Valley, ID

Specializing in “wilderness luxury,” Far and Away Adventures allows you to custom-build your vacation. While most trips take place on or near the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River, the adventures vary from fly-fishing to whitewater rafting, with age-specific options. Whether you’re an advanced outdoorsman or you prefer hot springs to hiking, Far and Away works with you to create your ideal getaway and provides a staff of expert guides for every level of adventurer.

Seek Solitude

Blancaneaux Lodge

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize

Swap the concrete jungle for one filled with lush greenery, diverse wildlife, and a secluded hideaway. Owned by director Francis Ford Coppola, Blancaneaux Lodge features 23 cabanas and excursions ranging from a hunt for orchids to an evening expedition through Chiquibul Forest Reserve.

+ We also love Haramara Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico

Photography by Jessica Sample (header; Snow Canyon State Park), Casey Good/NOAO/AURA/NSF (Kitt Peak National Observatory), Bryan Rupp (The Vintages Trailer Resort); photography courtesy of Far and Away Adventures

Originally Published May 2018