Best vacation spots for the techie who wants to unplug….or plug in

top techie vacations spots 1

Maybe you’ve been working non-stop on a mission-critical project. Maybe your shop is shorthanded and you haven’t been able to get away. Maybe you’re just a procrastinator when it comes to planning a summer vacation.

Whatever the reason, if you haven’t taken some time off, it’s not too late.

Here are some vacation options that fall into two opposite camps: For the IT pro who wants to unplug, or for the IT pro who wants a tech-focused getaway. (See images from each location here.)

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: 7 free Wi-Fi stumbling and surveying tools for Windows and Mac +

1. UNPLUG: Mount Snow, Vt.

The “Unplug and Reconnect” family camp package from Mount Snow in West Dover, Vt., discourages the use of devices during activities and meals. While Wi-Fi is available at the “base lodge,” most of the condos do not have Internet access. Activities include swimming, guided hikes or mountain bike tours, fishing, golfing and more. Guests don’t need to worry about lugging too much equipment, as each camper is fitted with a bike of their own.

2. UNPLUG: Lack Placid Lodge, N.Y.

Another Northeastern U.S. choice is the “check-in to check-out” package at the Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, where visitors can leave their technology at the door to enjoy a four-night stay, with the last night free. Amenities include “chef's choice” of a freshly prepared snack and wine, dessert delivered to the room, a custom-made-to-order breakfast and a free pass to tour the lake aboard the lodge’s mahogany “hackercraft” boat or the area’s Olympic sites.

3. UNPLUG: Grand Velas Resorts, Mexico

An international choice is the digital detox program at Mexico’s Grand Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit, where a “detox concierge” is available to cleanse your suite of all manner of screens and secure your personal electronic devices (phone, laptop, iPad, PSP, etc.). At the Riviera Maya location, guests are given a bracelet in exchange for their electronics that guarantees them access to various activities, such as bike, ecological or snorkeling tours, facials and massages. They must earn a total of four activity bracelets (one for each day of the detox) in order to receive their electronics back. Participants are also given a t-shirt that reads, “We are digital detoxing,” and a timer placed in the lobby features the family’s last name and the time that they have already detoxed. Guests at both resorts can take advantage of the resorts’ complimentary roster of activities such as yoga, kayaking, picnic on the beach and campfire sessions.

4. UNPLUG: Camp Grounded, Blue Ridge Mountains, N.C.

A more earthy approach is offered at Camp Grounded, an adult summer camp sponsored by Digital Detox, a company that provides retreats, speaking engagements and corporate programs focused on disconnecting from our devices to “reconnect” with fellow human beings. Camp participants trade in their digital devices to focus on off-the-grid activities, including healthy gourmet camp meals, live music, yoga and other wellness initiatives, waterfall hikes, kayaking, dancing, fishing, paddleboarding, rockwall climbing, arts and crafts, archery, campfires and more. Camps are offered in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Hendersonville, N.C., as well as in Mendocino, Calif.

5: PLUG-IN: Big Nerd Ranch, Atlanta/Calif.

And then there’s the opposite. If time-off to you means more time to plug in, there’s a range of places and events to indulge your deepest tech fantasies. Perhaps none is more aptly named than Big Nerd Ranch, where visitors can pursue the pure bliss of “Nerdvana:” intensive coding bootcamps set in beautiful surroundings like Callaway Gardens in Atlanta and Monterey County, Calif. At either location, participants of any skill level can sign up for weeklong application development classes, following a process called The Big Nerd Way.

+ ALSO: Working vacations are an IT mainstay +

Meals and accommodations are inclusive, and while the focus is on coding, visitors can also enjoy swimming, hiking, ziplines and ropes courses (in Atlanta) or just staring out at the Pacific (in Monterey). Upon completing “the most intensive app development course you can imagine,” participants get access to the Nerd Association, the Big Nerd Ranch’s alumni network, for ongoing support.

6. PLUG-IN: Space Camp, Alabama

Another high-energy choice is the Adult Space Academy at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. In addition to camps for kids, the organization has added a two-night weekend experience for adults, allowing participants to assume roles in hands-on, interactive space missions and learn what it’s like to train as an astronaut. The weekend program includes model rocket construction and launch (weather permitting), training on an astronaut simulator (including the 1/6th gravity chair and multi-axis trainer), plus hands-on spaceflight history education amid one of the world’s largest spaceflight collections. Meals and lodging are included.

7. PLUG-IN: History of Electronic Games, Rochester, N.Y.

A less intensive (and less participatory) option is the International Center for the History of Electronic Games in Rochester, N.Y., whose collection of video games, other electronic games, and electronic game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. The center collects, studies and interprets video games and other electronic games, as well as how electronic games are changing how people play, learn and connect with each other.

8. PLUG-IN: PAX Prime, Seattle

And if gaming is your thing, shoot over to Seattle at the end of August for the PAX Prime event, a conference dedicated to the culture and community of gaming, particularly video games. The event features live music (especially “nerdcore” bands), a “freeplay” area in which attendees can play with the latest generation consoles and games, an exhibit hall where publishers and developers can show off the latest genres, platforms and games, a “handheld lounge” equipped with beanbag chairs, a PC gaming area, and a tournament in which randomly selected attendees compete to win a trip to Japan. If you can’t make it this summer, PAX East will take place in April 2016 in Boston.

9. PLUG-IN, World Maker Faire, Queens

Members of the do-it-yourself community known as the “Maker Movement” might choose to attend the World Maker Faire, held at the end of September in the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. Part science fair, part county fair, the Maker Faire showcases inventions and creations by tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. Attendees can both see and try out the offerings, learn about how they were made and be inspired to create something themselves at home.

In addition to the World Maker Faire, at least eight smaller maker fairs will take place between mid-August and Labor Day in Chicago, Springfield, Mo., Dover, N.H., Tulsa, Okla., Albuquerque, N.M., Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Mich., San Jose, and Des Moines, Iowa.

10. PLUG-IN: Beaches with Wi-Fi

If all this sounds a bit too ambitious, you can always opt for some beachtime at one of the growing number of beaches with Wi-Fi, including Miami’s South Beach and Clearwater Beach in Florida; Sunset State Beach, Mission Beach, Santa Monica, Newport Beach or Hermosa Beach in California; Atlantic City in N.J.; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.

Whatever you do, take advantage of the time to recharge your batteries. With all the change happening in technology today, you’ll need the break to prepare for the year ahead.

Brandel is a freelance writer. She can be reached at

This story, "Best vacation spots for the techie who wants to unplug….or plug in" was originally published by Network World.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon