Unplugged Family Vacations; Courtesy of Nitikorn Poonsiri/Shutterstock.com
All Ages

13 Best Digital Detox Family Vacations

See recent posts by Cynthia J. Drake

Few of us resist the urge to check messages or texts, so our work places and social obligations follow us everywhere — even on family vacations.

Luckily, many resorts and even city hotels offer harried parents and tech-obsessed kids a chance to disconnect from their devices and reconnect with each other. Recharge your personal batteries with one of these digital detox family vacations.

Reconnected by Wyndham; Courtesy of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

1. Hotel Galvez – Galveston, TX

The historic Hotel Galvez & Spa, built in 1911, is known as the “Queen of the Gulf.” A stunning Spanish Colonial hotel with a grand palm-tree lined entry and palatial lobby and dining areas, the Galvez is located just across from the beach and the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.

The hotel offers a heated outdoor pool with a swim-up bar, views of the Gulf of Mexico and an onsite spa. The onsite restaurant, the Galvez Bar & Grill, is a casual seafood restaurant with impeccable service, where kids 12 and younger always eat free with their parents. Paranormal fans of all ages can explore the hotel’s alleged ghost stories, with regularly scheduled guided tours (don’t worry; they’re not overly gruesome).

The Vacation Detox at the Hotel Galvez: This property is one of five Wyndham Grand Resorts across the U.S. to offer an innovative package called Reconnected for families. The others are: Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek and Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, both in Florida; Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront; and the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in South Carolina.

This add-on package offers timed lock boxes for parents and kids to stow their electronics, while providing the materials for families to create their own in-room “blanket fort,” make shadow puppets, take instant photos, munch on S’mores and discover a new book together. Plus, kids get to take home their very own Adventure Backpack filled with goodies.

Castello di Ristonchi; Courtesy of TripAdvisor Traveler/ZvonarM

2. Castello di Ristonchi – Tuscany

Ristonchi is a 1,000-year-old castle in Tuscany that started with a dream of creating a life for children without the trappings of modern-day stresses. “One of the main reasons we decided to take on this big dream of ours is for our children to grow up in such a beautiful place in nature,” says owner Stefanie Grassley. “Here, no one is bombarded by advertisements. We really feel as if we’ve gone back in time.”

The castle offers a range of apartments, from a studio to a three-bedroom unit that can sleep up to seven people, an onsite restaurant with wood-fired pizza, a chapel, a fresh spring water pool, playground, olive groves and a magical forest.

The Vacation Detox at Ristonchi: “This is a place where you forget about your digital life. Life here is too rich, too beautiful to hide from behind a screen,” says Grassley. Guests will find no Wi-Fi or television in their rooms. Instead, activities focus on real-life fun, such as learning how to make pasta and pizza from scratch, using vegetables from the gardens and cooking it in the stone oven inside the castle tower, or going on foraging hikes.

Indura Beach & Golf Resort by Hilton; Courtesy of Indura Beach & Golf Resort by Hilton

3. Indura Beach & Golf Resort by Hilton – Honduras

Indura Beach & Golf Resort is located on 1,800 acres of the Jeanette Kawas National Park on a remote coast of Northern Honduras, where connecting with nature is the only agenda. For families, there are babysitting services onsite, as well as a childcare center, playground and other kid-friendly amenities.

In addition to the two onsite restaurants and bar, plus golf course and pool, guests explore the lush natural surroundings through diving and bird watching adventures or connecting to the local Garifuna communities. There are opportunities for guests to visit local villages and learn more about this Afro-Caribbean culture.

The Vacation Detox at Indura Beach: The resort’s Digital Detox program offers guests the opportunity to request that all electronics (such as TVs, phones and alarm clocks) are unplugged in their rooms, and they can also hand over their electronic devices upon check-in. They are locked away for the duration of their stay.

Element Boston Seaport Hotel; Courtesy of Element Boston Seaport Hotel

4. Element Boston Seaport District, Boston

Yes, you can enjoy an unplugged getaway in a big city! Located in Boston’s Seaport District, the Element Boston Seaport District offers fully equipped suites with an open floor plan, full kitchens, rainwater shower heads and plush beds. Kids enjoy the indoor pool, of course, and there’s also a complimentary breakfast. They can even enjoy a game of cornhole, tossing bean bags on the hotel patio.

There’s a park located next to the hotel for families who want to venture out and explore, and you can bring your dogs along free of charge. And though the hotel offers free Wi-Fi, there’s a really interesting incentive available for unplugging and reconnecting with your family.

The Vacation Detox at Element Boston Seaport District: The hotel’s Disconnected Stay Package allows guests to surrender their mobile devices upon check-in, to be locked away for their stay. The hotel also offers tips for IRL activities, such as free area activities or new recipes to try in your in-room kitchen.

Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel; Courtesy of Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel

5. Renaissance Pittsburgh

Enjoy views of downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and riverfront from the historic Renaissance Pittsburgh, originally built in 1906. With contemporary decor and a grand staircase, the Renaissance offers a 24-hour fitness center, and chic rooms with 12-foot ceilings. The hotel also has an onsite restaurant, Braddock’s Pittsburgh Brasserie.

Families report that the hotel staff members are very sweet and accommodating to children, and there are several family-friendly attractions, museums, parks and PNC Park all located nearby.

The Vacation Detox at the Renaissance Pittsburgh: This hotel’s digital detox package comes with a challenge: Can you survive without your electronic devices? To find out, book a stay and give up your laptop, cell phone and other electronic companion. TVs and iPod docking stations are also removed from the room, and in their place, you’ll find vouchers for kayaking and biking. You can also play a game of cards or a board game.

Echo Valley Ranch and Spa; Courtesy of Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

6. Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, British Columbia

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa is located in British Columbia’s Cariboo Mountains, and offers guests a ranch, spa, and thousands of acres of nature: mountains, valleys, forests, and canyons. Guests enjoy exploring the area on horseback and can partake in a fresh-from-the-farm meal with a side of Canadian hospitality.

Kids love horseback riding, playing with the resident dogs and exploring nature. There’s a TV room with popcorn for family movie night, and to round out your outdoor adventures, there’s even a shooting range and opportunities to go fishing.

The Vacation Detox at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa: You can book a digital detox retreat at Echo Valley, which offers a menu of possible alternatives to cell phones and other devices, including yoga and nature hikes, where you might catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or a bear.

Hotel Vincci Seleccion Estrella del Mar; Courtesy of Hotel Vincci Seleccion Estrella del Mar

7. Vincci Selección Estrella del Mar, Málaga, Spain

A spa, restaurants and three pools combine to create a relaxing destination in Spain’s Costa del Sol, situated beside the sea on one of the country’s most beautiful beach areas. Vincci Seleccion Estrella del Mar has a modern and elegant Mediterranean feel that is welcoming to families.

Vincci Hotels are known for their expansive offerings for kids, including infant baths, bottle warmers and strollers to borrow. Plus, there’s a children’s club with activities designed for kids, and a wide range of baby foods on request.

The Vacation Detox at Vincci Selección Estrella del Mar: Vincci Hotels offer a Digital Detox Pack designed to get people to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with their families. You can voluntarily give up your electronics and indulge in a package that includes massages, romantic dinners and access to the gym and fitness classes.

Jakes Treasure Beach Jamaica Hotel; Courtesy of Jakes Treasure Beach Jamaica Hotel

8. Jakes Treasure Beach Jamaica Hotel

Jakes is located on secluded Treasure Beach in Jamaica, the perfect relaxed and rustic setting with charmingly funky cottages. Dubbed the “chicest shacks in the Caribbean,” the rooms and cottages are seamlessly tucked into the rugged landscape and black sand beachscape. No two rooms are the same and each features a beautiful view of the gardens or the ocean, with equal parts of indoor and outdoor living space.

The activity list is as fabulous as it is diverse. Guests find the expected: boating, fishing, walking, cycling and beaching, as well as the unexpected: yoga, Jamaican cooking classes, onsite watercolor classes, glass mosaic workshops, crafting for children, and a soccer-based sports park. For families, Jakes provides board games, a shallow pool, play pens, high chairs and nanny services with 24-hour notice. Adorable for children and teens is the spa’s mini menu of services including nail art and hair braiding. Some of the cottages include up to three bedrooms and small open-air kitchens, perfect for a family vacation. Guided tours will escort guests through the rain forest to the YS Falls for swimming, ziplining and tubing; Alligator Pond for watching wildlife; and Black River, a 44-mile wetland preserve, for a safari.

The Vacation Detox at Jakes: The cottages at Jakes do not have Wi-Fi, televisions, or telephones. Larger cottages suited for families include small televisions for watching DVDs, but there is no cable service. For the truly desperate, Wi-Fi is available in the hotel lobby and the restaurant. Lest you think that you’ve forsaken all modern amenities, each room is air conditioned and has a CD player and ceiling fan!

Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa; Courtesy of Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa

9. Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa

This eco-friendly resort is located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic between the small towns of Cabarete and Sosua on a private, unspoiled beach. The focus here is on ecology and a respect for nature that is evident in the bungalow construction, as well as the cuisine that is served. Featuring only 11 cabanas, the hotel guarantees a crowd-less vacation. The cabanas are exceptional — crafted from locally sourced bamboo, with stone walls and thatched roofs. Toiletries include handmade soap, and the large, round shower tubs simulate a private outdoor shower. Families enjoy the bungalows that feature kitchenettes, as well as cribs, laundry and babysitting services.

Pilates and yoga are among the most popular activities at this resort, but virtually every form of water sport is also available. Nearby in Cabarete, there is a lively nightlife scene and access to more extreme sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing.

The Vacation Detox at Natura Cabanas: In exchange for all of the above, guests at Natura Cabana will need to relinquish cell phones, television, in-room air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Phone calls can be made from the front desk and those desperate for the internet can find access in the common areas.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Guestroom; Courtesy of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

10. Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch is the perfect spot to visit a dude ranch, as well as “relax, rejuvenate and reconnect.” The Ranch is located on more than 8,000 acres of gorgeous, rugged Montana countryside and adjacent to Gallatin National Forest. Visiting “ranchers” fly into Bozeman and travel about an hour or so south to the resort. Thirty idyllic log cabins await, with one-, two- and three-bedroom options. The cabins date back to 1929, when this authentic working ranch first opened its doors to guests, and regularly refurbished rooms feature appropriately rough-hewn furnishings, mini-fridges, picture windows, porches, and often fireplaces. Three gourmet meals are included with the room rates and are served both in the dining room and outdoors; coffee and tea service, as well as daily deliveries of fresh fruit complete the picture.

Available activities at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch include horseback riding, fishing, hiking, yoga, golf, tubing, campfire sing-a-longs, tennis, a heated pool and hot tub, and too many more to list. A full-time staff is on board to entertain children (including infants) for as long or as short as parents would like. Babysitting outside of the regular programming is also offered. The array of kid-friendly entertainment is terrific and varied enough to please everyone.

The Vacation Detox at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch: Without television, telephone and internet service, along with a required seven-night stay, Mountain Sky will surely encourage family conversation, some quiet time for reading and relaxing, and a renewed connection with each other and nature!

Arawak Beach Inn; Courtesy of Arawak Beach Inn

11. Arawak Beach Inn

Unlike the other resorts included in these superb places to unplug, Arawak Beach Inn is a bit of a hybrid resort when it comes to liberation from electronic devices. The Inn boasts 17 rooms, painted in a beach-inspired array of pastel colors and furnished accordingly. Featured amenities (some for a fee), include those typically expected at an island resort: cable television, in-room internet access, air conditioning, CD players and cell phone coverage.

While this resort may not sound like the best option for a digital detox vacation, the Arawak offers guests seeking disconnection something unusual: an Isolation Vacation, appealing to technology junkies who may not have had a true vacation in years.

The Vacation Detox at Arawak Beach Inn: With the Isolation Vacation, all electronic devices are turned over to the Inn’s staff upon arrival. Televisions, phones, and internet access are removed from the guestrooms, forcing the exhausted to relax and rejuvenate during a mandatory seven-day stay. The unplugged package includes an oceanfront room, daily breakfast, four dinners, a three-day car rental for sightseeing around Anguilla, three days of snorkeling, a private day-trip to an uninhabited island with a gourmet picnic lunch, and a deep-sea fishing excursion.

Radisson Blu Mall of America; Courtesy of Radisson Blu Mall of America

12. Radisson Blu Mall of America

Connected to the nation’s largest indoor family theme park at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Radisson Blu offers fresh, contemporary accommodations that are also very kid-friendly.

The hotel’s Be a Blu Kid VIP package offers things like Firecracker Kiddie Mocktails, a milk-and-cookies nightcap, and kid-sized slippers, plus turndown service with a book and stuffed animal for kids 12 and under.

The Vacation Detox at Radisson Blu Mall of America: Radisson Blu Mall of America recently launched a Fort Blu Kids Camping package, which allows guests to change their hotel room into a camping experience. You’ll receive a projector to simulate a “starry night sky” and a kid-sized tent to take home with you. Kids can nibble on S’mores-flavored ice cream and sleep on log-shaped pillows. You’ll also receive a silver camping mug, a dream journal and a Go Fish! card game. Who needs a tablet when all that is waiting for you?

Sheldon Chalet; Courtesy of Jeff Schultz

 13. Sheldon Chalet, Denali National Park, Alaska

The Sheldon Chalet is located 10 miles from the summit of Denali in Alaska’s Denali National Park. The luxury accommodations include five bedrooms and can accommodate up to 10 guests. Two personal guides, a private chef who prepares your meals using Alaskan-sourced ingredients, gear and a concierge are all available to guests to create their own memorable Alaskan adventure.

Guests enjoy exploring Denali with private helicopter transportation that will bring your family to a lakeside picnic, fishing at a secret lake, dog sled rides, Denali Base Camp, glacier trekking and heli-skiing. Time your visit to see the aurora borealis, or explore nearby hot springs.

The Vacation Detox at Sheldon Chalet: There’s no Wi-Fi, no texting and no TV at Sheldon Chalet. Given the breathtaking natural adventures in store here, you and your kids won’t miss any of that.

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