10 Best Places to Disconnect
Do you hear phantom smartphone ringing? Does a blinking light send your pulse through the roof? Do you feel anxious if you go 15 minutes without checking your email? It may be time for an e-tox break. We’re not talking about putting your phone down while eating a sandwich. Sometimes you need a dining experience or an afternoon escape sans tweeting or a real vacation in a place where getting online is simply impossible. Here are 10 great spots to unplug.
Green Bank, W.Va.
Home of the Green Bank Telescope and housed within the National Radio Quiet Zone, Green Bank has made it illegal to use your cellphone and Wi-Fi. The reason for this ban dates back to the 1950s, long before cellphones were ever a concern to its founders. Initially, this area was selected because it is naturally sheltered from television and radio signals by the Alleghany Mountains. Since the Green Bank Telescope is a radio telescope, it requires as little interference as possible to receive signals from distant worlds. Due to its lack of radio frequencies, people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (negative effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields) often visit. So if you love space or just want a break from your phone, visit Green Bank, where the Green Bank Science Center offers tours, activities, and events under the stars -- all without any interruption.
Isle Royale, Mich.
Isle Royale, found on northern Lake Superior, is a wonderful destination for those looking for sailing, hiking, adventure and phone service that is “limited to one credit card operated satellite phone,” according to the National Park Service. The 3-hour ferry ride to make landfall is a journey in itself, setting visitors up for a place where trees and tents are far more common than tablets and smartphones. If you’d rather a room than a camp site, consider staying at the Rock Harbor Lodge, where numerous reviewers on TripAdvisor.com have noted the lack of not just cell service, but Internet or television service as well.
Rogue 24, Washington, D.C.
“Wow, that dinner was really worth the contract I signed” is not a comment you will often hear unless you are in the Washington, D.C. area. If you are, the person saying it likely just finished a meal at Rogue 24, which offers a multicourse dinner menu, stylish décor and a dining contract asking patrons to “refrain from the use of cell phones” in the dining area. While the restaurant receives mixed reviews on Yelp, it does offer a dining experience that allows you to enjoy your dinner in peace. If that sounds like a nice night out, feel free to check out the revised contract posted by DC Eater, which also contains a cancellation policy in a very official and legal-looking document.
The Grand Canyon
One of the most popular domestic vacations for families in the United States is the Grand Canyon, ranking just behind Honolulu in a US News article published this summer. Many will go for the beautiful sites, the numerous adventures, or just the experience of being there. However, if you want to photograph your experience and upload it to Instagram, you’ll have to wait. While the south rim gets decent reception, once you move into the canyon itself, there is little to no reception, according to Frommers. Visitors can enter the interior of the canyon by hiking, rafting or taking a mule ride. Once there, spending either the day or the night are both options. Out of 31 reviews on TripAdvisor, 29 give the experience 5 stars, so chances are you will enjoy the experience.
Death Valley, Calif.
If wildlife, backpacking and bird watching all sound like exciting activities, check out Death Valley. You’ll have little to no contact with the world besides emergency phones. NPS.org definitively states that “cell phones do not work in Death Valley” so unless you have a satellite phone with a data plan, you won’t be checking Twitter or your email as long as you’re there. Instead, stop at Zabriskie Point, which may look familiar to ‘80s pop/rock fans; U2 used this as their shooting location for the Joshua Tree album cover. It is also a popular spot for amateur photographers, who enjoy the scenic view of the canyons, mountains and badlands located within the park.
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Minus5 Ice Bar, New York City
Minus5 is quickly becoming one of the most popular bars to visit both in Las Vegas and New York City. Just don’t say it’s a “hot” location; the entire bar and lounge is made of ice. Even the glasses and couches are chiseled out of ice. However, if you want to check in on FourSquare, you better do so outside. Once you enter the building, you are brought into a room where you are given a parka, mittens and a locker for your cellphone. The bar area of Minus5 strictly prohibits any electronics that may emit heat because they can melt the ice. A picture to remember the experience will run you $20 because only an employed photographer is allowed to use a camera.
Shambhala Ranch, Ukiah, Calif.
The term “digital detox,” or the decision to take a break from electronics, started entering people’s vernacular at the beginning of this decade. From families looking to spend quality time together to workaholics and the tech obsessed, this practice is becoming extremely popular. Some decide to take a break for a week by heading to the well-publicized Shambhala Ranch retreat in Ukiah, which promotes yoga and meditation over “no boss” and “no cell phone.” Others opt for a couple nights in a hotel offering a “digital detox package” like the one offered by the Renaissance Hotel in Pittsburgh. No matter which option you choose, exchanging smartphones and laptops for playing cards and board games gives participants a chance to drop off the grid and connect with others face-to-face, not on FaceTime.
Perry’s Deli, Chicago, Ill.
If the “no cell phone” signs don’t discourage you from using your cellphone within one of Chicago’s most famous sandwich shops, Perry’s Deli, perhaps the alarm will. If you happen to be caught on your cellphone within the restaurant, a siren will go off , alerting all other patrons that you’re the one breaking the no cellphone rule. It would seem that visitors are taking the ban seriously, because, according to Yelp’s reviews, you don’t see many people on their phone. So while you technically can receive a signal while having your sandwich, why would you want to risk the humiliation?
Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Ariz.
The Enchantment Resort is one of the highest-rated hotels in Sedona, offering guests breathtaking views, a luxurious spa, beautiful hotel rooms, great dining experiences and an extremely limited cellphone signal, if any at all. Based on the TripAdvisor.com reviews, guests either enjoy or despise the lack of cell coverage, and comment that even the Wi-Fi offered just doesn’t cut it. The same can be said for much of Sedona, where reception and data coverage are spotty at best. So if the Enchantment Resort doesn’t sound like your idea of a perfect getaway, get in touch with or research other hotels and activities in the area; they, too, will likely offer a break from your phone for a while.
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Burbank, Calif.
In case you already did not know that you should not be using your phone during religious gatherings, the Westminster Presbyterian Church has made it extremely clear. A hilarious YouTube video has gone viral, featuring the church’s cellphone policy. If a patron’s phone goes off during announcements, it’s a $25 fine. During prayer concerns, get ready to dole out an extra $50. Above all else, you should absolutely make sure your phone is off during the sermon, or else you will face consequences not seen yet on our list. If you are using your phone during the service, be prepared for spontaneous combustion and a trip to hell. This makes the siren at Perry’s Deli look like a minor inconvenience. While the video is clearly satire, it serves as a reminder that an hour break from your phone isn’t a lot to ask.