According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children now spend 53 hours a week in front of a television, computer, hand-held video game console, cell phone, iPad… and some time, multiple devices at once. With summer’s beautiful green trees, blue skies and wildlife, isn’t it time to yank the cord and turn the kids loose in our first playground: the great outdoors?
Unplugging your kids on summer vacation doesn’t have to be a daunting task for parents. A great way to keep kids interested in what’s happening outside, instead of on their favorite TV show, is to take your family to an area rich with outdoor activities, and free from connectivity.
ARAMARK Parks and Destinations can help families do just that through its lodges and activities in some of America’s most beautiful (and often times disconnected) places including:
- Mesa Verde
- Olympic National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Lake Powell
- Lake Tahoe
- Northwestern Wyoming.
Many of these rustic locations are far from cell towers or internet connectivity, making them the perfect places for parents to help their kids withdrawal from electronics—cold turkey. But not to fret, a lack of technology does not mean a lack of fun.
To help keep even the most tech-addicted child (or parent) entertained, these destinations feature a number of outdoor activities from guided hikes, kayaking, white water rafting and rock climbing, where kids will forget their digital devices as they drink in the fun of the great outdoors.
Some unplugged destinations for families to consider are:
Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah
The United States’ second largest man-made lake is a houseboating paradise. With nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, sapphire blue water and red cliffs, it’s easy to escape the digital world at Lake Powell. Houseboating is a great way to get out past cell service to explore the Lake without digital distractions. From a houseboat, you and your family can swim, hike and explore the lake via powerboat or kayak. Surrounded by this beauty, your kids will soon forget about the internet and phone. If you must distract them, boats do come with televisions and DVD players. Since the boats are out of range for network stations, “forgetting” the DVDs is a way to further detox your kids.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
In the heart of the West’s “Grand Circle” of national parks, Mesa Verde is the only national park established to protect the work of man. Through one of the park’s two four-hour guided tours, your children will learn how the Ancestral Puebloans, who lived at Mesa Verde from 550-1300 AD, lived before the invention of the wheel—let alone the internet. The park’s sole lodge, Far View Lodge, is free of televisions, phones and is out of cell range for most carriers. The lobby does have Wi-Fi, however, if mom and dad MUST check their email.
The Frontier Travelers were at Mesa Verde last fall – between the deer, the wild horses and the Anasazi Ruins – there’s literally something for everyone.
Olympic National Park, Washington
On Washington’s Olympic peninsula, ARAMARK’s three lodges within the national park: Kalaloch Lodge, Lake Crescent Lodge and Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort are each in a different eco system within this diverse park of rainforest, sub-alpine mountains and coastal bluffs. The area is well known for hiking and fishing and also offers beach combing, kayaking/canoeing and hot springs for a relaxing dip. All three properties are free from telephones, televisions and internet service. With all the great hiking trails right past the lodge doors, your kids won’t even miss it!
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park was established more than 75 years ago as a natural retreat for city dwellers, a task it undertakes to this day. Big Meadows Lodge is a historic property built in 1939. Skyland Resort was established in 1878 and many of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is limited cell service but Wi-Fi is available in the lobby areas. To get the best of nature, make sure to ask for a room without television or phone then, explore Shenandoah’s 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The park also offers horseback riding, rock climbing, guided hikes and nearby cultural attractions, caverns and historic sites.
Togwotee Mountain Lodge, Wyoming
Togwotee Mountain Lodge is the perfect launching pad for a Wyoming vacation with its close proximity to Wyoming’s top three attractions: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson. In addition, Togwotee is close to many regional outdoor activities – from river floats to rodeos – plenty of opportunity to take your child’s eyes away from the electronics. While Togwotee does have limited Wi-Fi and TVs in its cabins, you’ll be so busy doing outdoor activities, you won’t have any time to check what’s happening on Facebook.
Zephyr Cove Resort, Lake Tahoe California/Nevada
When Mark Twain first saw Lake Tahoe he declared it was “the fairest picture the world affords.” The high alpine lake, deep in the Sierra Nevada still has this impact on people today. Zephyr Cove Resort features some of the only lake-front cabins on the lake. To entertain your tech-withdrawing kids, there is a plethora of beach activities, water craft rentals, horseback riding and scenic cruises aboard the Tahoe Queen, an authentic Mississippi paddlewheel boat. While the cabins do feature televisions, Wi-Fi and some cell service, with such a beautiful lake right outside your door, even the most tech-addicted kid will have trouble staying indoors.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park is quite literally disconnected as the only way to get there is by bush plane or boat. With the increased service of the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry in 2012, it is even easier to reach this glacier-carved wonderland. Glacier Bay’s only lodge has 56 rooms—all without TV, phone, or Wi-Fi. To keep kids occupied, the eight-hour Glacier Bay Tour will captivate them with sightings of wildlife (including humpback whales and puffins) and a chance to watch as two massive glaciers cleave sky-scrapers of ice into the water below. In addition, the lodge’s Artist in Residency program with the local Huna Totum Native Corporation will expose your children to Native Alaskan art and culture.
Images courtesy of ARAMARK