With everyday life revolving more and more around your smartphone, the need to unplug and unwind away from the screens is at an all-time high. Families that used to bond over board games and outdoor getaways now find themselves glued to their individual devices, leaving less time for connecting in a real, authentic way. To combat this unsettling trend towards unlimited technology, Virginia is for Lovers wants to challenge you to sign out of all the social media accounts for a few days and instead focus on the ones that mean the most to you: your friends and family! Use these trip ideas to inspire your next “unplugged” vacation, then comment below to share your stories of how disconnecting helped you reconnect with each other.
—An Outdoor Retreat in Shenandoah National Park—
Photo Credit: Kelly J. Mihalcoe LLC
Shenandoah National Park is known as one of the most iconic National Parks in the United States, so it’s a no-brainer as a phone-free Virginia travel destination. Bordered by the Shenandoah Valley on the west, the park offers practically unlimited outdoor excursions, from 500 miles of pristine hiking and biking trails to dozens of scenic overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo credit: John Plashal, @johnplashalphoto
Venture out onto one of the popular hiking trails within the park, such as Stony Man, White Oak Canyon, or Dark Hollow Falls, a 1.5-mile hike that features a 70-foot cascading waterfall.Twilight hikes are also a popular activity within Shenandoah; offered during select dates, these guided hikes give you a rare view of the open night skies free of light pollution.
If your family is seeking even bigger thrills, conquer the mountain bike trails at Massanutten Resort, located just a few miles west of Shenandoah National Park. For more adrenaline, Massanutten has ziplines and rock climbing adventures that will keep their hands away from the phones.
Discover Virginia’s beautiful scenery on horseback at one of the stables in or around Shenandoah National Park, such as Fort Valley Ranch, Jordan Hollow Stables, or Skyland Stables. Your family will forget all about their cell phones as they hold the reins and learn about their natural surroundings.
Photo Credit: Mike Zorger
Another great way to lose cell service around Shenandoah National Park? Go underground! Take the family to Luray Caverns, the largest cavern system in the eastern United States. Included in admission to the caverns are three additional kid-friendly museums, all just steps away from the caverns.
Finally, spend an afternoon with the family at a you-pick farm or orchard, where you can select your own peaches, raspberries, blackberries, apples, strawberries, and many more fruits and veggies available seasonally straight from the source. A few options near Shenandoah National Park include Marker-Miller Orchards in Winchester, White Oak Lavender Farm outside of Harrisonburg, Graves Mountain Farm in Syria, and Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet.
- Shenandoah National Park contains five campgrounds in season: Matthews Arm, Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain, Loft Mountain, and Dundo.
- Skyland in Luray
- Lewis Mountain Cabins in Luray
- Shadow Mountain Escape in Luray
- Graves Mountain Farm & Lodges in Syria
- Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville
- Circa ‘31 at the Mimslyn Inn in Luray
- Moonshadows Restaurant in Luray
- Swover Creek Farm in Edinburg
- Woodstock Cafe in Woodstock
LOCAL OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS:
- Front Royal Outdoors
- Shenandoah River Outfitters
- Shenandoah River Adventures
- Wild Guyde Adventures
- Outdoor Adventure Experiences
- Massanutten Adventures
—Exploring Beautiful Bath County—
Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography, @jumpingrocksphoto
Located on the western border of Virginia, Bath County is a mountainous outdoor paradise, with everything from fishing and boating to hiking and biking, all set in an undeveloped landscape that encourages visitors to keep the phones off.
For a totally off-the-grid experience, book a stay at Fort Lewis Lodge & Farm, a country escape set on a 3,365-acre property in the mountains of Virginia with 21 unique cabins, lodge rooms, and private homes. The retreat is surrounded by national forests and is far from any town or city, with miles of hiking trails, bikes and helmets available for your use, and three miles of private river access for boating, swimming, tubing, or fly fishing. In the evenings, dine on a farm-fresh meal served in the on-site Lewis Mill restaurant, then spend some time basking by a fire under a blanket of stars. The retreat is surrounded by national forests and is miles from any town or city, and while some cell phone service and WiFi are available, you’ll more than likely forget about your phone as you explore the beauty of the “Great Outdoors” at Fort Lewis Lodge & Farm.
Image Courtesy of The Omni Homestead Resort
Want a more luxurious Bath County vacation sans cell phones? Opt for the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, a National Historic Landmark that has been welcoming guests to western Virginia since 1766 (fun fact: the Homestead was the first resort in the United States, a luxury lodging option in the mountains of Virginia ten years before America even became a country!). The 23,000-acre resort has all sorts of amenities, including golf courses, a shooting range, a falconry program, horseback riding, mountain biking, fly fishing, and ziplining. An on-site spa offers ultimate relaxation options, allowing you to unwind in a soothing space without your phone.
Lake Moomaw, close to either of these lodging options, is a well known spot for fishing and boating, and is stocked with brown and rainbow trout, bass, pan, and crappie. The lake is encircled by hiking and biking trails, offering a full day of phone-free activities.
- Fort Lewis Lodge Farm in Millboro
- Tuck Away Cabins in Millboro
- Natural Retreats Shepherds Cottage in Hot Springs
- The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs
- Fort Lewis Restaurant in Millboro
- Waterwheel Restaurant in Hot Springs
- Sam Snead Tavern in Hot Springs
- The Omni Homestead Dining Room
LOCAL OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS:
- Douthat State Park in Millboro
- The Marina at Lake Moomaw in Warm Springs
- Allegheny Outdoors in Covington (South of Bath County)
—A Rugged Mountain Escape to Breaks Interstate Park—
Discover the rugged mountains, valley landscapes, and rich culture of the Heart of Appalachia with a trip to Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”, Breaks is one of the only interstate parks in the United States, straddling the borders of Kentucky and Virginia. Within the park, you’ll have access to hiking trails, rafting, kayaking, fishing, and boating spots on the river, and campsites that will get your family back to nature and away from their electronic devices. Book one of the park’s seasonal elk viewing tours to get a closer look at the animals in their recently restored habitat, or visit a public wildlife viewing shelter on your own for an opportunity to see these majestic animals at any time of day. Add more adrenaline to your Breaks Interstate Park vacation and get a bird’s eye view of the canyon from the park’s ziplines, which run above the Russell Fork River Gorge.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
While Breaks Interstate Park has lots of outdoor activities, this part of the Commonwealth is packed with things to help your family disconnect from the phones. Nearby St. Paul is an outdoor lover’s dream, offering fishing, canoeing, and tubing on the Clinch River, as well as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and ATV riding on hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross the Appalachian Mountains. Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure rents their ATVs at the trailhead of the Spearhead Trails’ Coal Canyon route, a multi-use trail system also open to mountain bikes, dirt bikes, and hikers. With an unobstructed view of the night sky and low levels of surrounding light pollution, Southern Gap is a remarkable location from which to stargaze. Rent one of their cabins or campsites for the weekend and spend the evenings searching for your favorite constellations and other cosmic wonders as you take in the clear night skies.
- Breaks Interstate Park Rhododendron Lodge
- Breaks Interstate Park Luxury Cabins
- Breaks Interstate Park Campgrounds
- Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure Cabins in St. Paul
- Western Front Hotel in St. Paul
- The Inn at Wise in Wise
- Rhododendron Restaurant at Breaks Interstate Park
- Main Street Pizzeria & Grill in Haysi
LOCAL OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS:
- Breaks Interstate Park
- Pathfinders & High Knob Outfitters in Norton
- Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures in St. Paul
- Clinch Life Outfitters in St. Paul
—Waterfront Fun on the Eastern Shore’s Chincoteague & Assateague Islands—
Photo Credit: Jason Barnette
With miles of sandy shorelines, most of them federally protected from development, Virginia’s Eastern Shore is the ideal place for an “unplugged” beach vacation. Head to the northeastern town of Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore to experience the allure of Virginia’s beaches in a laid-back coastal community.
Photo Credit: Todd Wright, @toddwrightphoto
Just east of Chincoteague Island, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge provides sanctuary to a wide array of wildlife and native species, with 15,000 acres of protected land stretching along the coastline. Visitors can bike and hike along the refuge trails, or purchase passes at the Visitor’s Center for a guided tour that takes you through the refuge to catch a glimpse of the famous wild ponies. To see the ponies from the water, consider booking a pony watching wildlife cruise through Assateague Explorer. Before leaving the refuge, stop by the Assateague Lighthouse, an historic lighthouse that was built on Assateague Island in 1867. The beachfront section of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island National Seashore, has designated kayak and canoe launch points where you can set out on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Biking trails are also found within Assateague Island National Seashore, allowing you to ride along sandy beaches, maritime forests, and quiet bay waterways.
Back on Chincoteague Island, opt to leave the four-wheeled, fast-paced life behind and rent bikes or scooters to get around town. If you’re bringing along the kids on this phone-less vacation, don’t miss a visit to Maui Jack’s Waterpark, a family-friendly waterpark complete with epic slides, several pool areas, and a lazy river.
- Marina Bay Hotel & Suites on Chincoteague Island
- Refuge Inn on Chincoteague Island
- Snug Harbor Waterfront Cottages in Chincoteague
- AJ’s on the Creek on Chincoteague Island
- Bill’s Prime Seafood & Steaks on Chincoteague Island
- Island Creamery on Chincoteague Island
LOCAL OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS:
- Assateague Explorer Cruise & Kayaking in Chincoteague
- Bay Country Kayaking in Onancock
- Burnham Guides Paddling Adventures in Onancock
- The Bike Depot & Beach Outfitters on Chincoteague Island
- Broadwater Bay EcoTours in Exmore
- Chincoteague Island Adventures on Chincoteague Island
- Queen Hive Farm in Assawoman
—Outdoor Adventures in Farmville—
Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame
About an hour southwest of Richmond, Farmville is one of Central Virginia’s most charming small towns. Stay at the Hotel Weyanoke, just across the street from the Longwood University campus in downtown Farmville, for a vacation that puts you steps away from countless technology-free activities. Rent bikes from The Outdoor Adventure Store and set out on High Bridge Trail, a multi-use trail that runs 31 miles from downtown Farmville. The highlight of the trail is the high bridge for which it is named; the bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia (and one of the longest in the U.S.) and sit 125 feet about the Appomattox River, affording picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. Book kayaks or canoes from a local outfitter and explore Farmville’s outdoor beauty from the water. Adults looking for some home decor should stop by a few of Green Front Furniture Company’s twelve massive warehouses, which total almost a million square feet of sales space and showcase everything from Oriental rugs and one-of-a-kind home accents to leather couches and dining room sets. If you’re looking for historic sites in Farmville, visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum to learn about Prince Edward County’s significant role in the nationwide fight for Civil Rights in Education.
photo credit: Kyle LaFerriere, @laferrierephotography
If you’re looking to stay outside of town, check out Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort. In addition to a challenging treetop obstacle and zipline course that will guarantee phones stay on the ground, the 23-acre resort has a family-owned and operated farm where you can greet the animals, pick veggies from their garden, and collect eggs from the resident hens, all without leaving the grounds. The on-site accommodations include log cabins and luxury glamping tipis that sleep up to seven people and feature private bathrooms, air conditioning, and a full kitchen. Just outside the tipis are fire pits where you can relax at the end of the day and roast hot dogs and s’mores with your friends and family. With minimal light pollution, the resort also offers prime stargazing on clear nights, ending your days with incredibly vivid and uninterrupted views of the stars.
- Sandy River Retreat Log Cabins or Glamping Tipis in Rice
- Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville
- Appomattox Inn & Suites in Appomattox
- Charley’s Waterfront Cafe in Farmville
- Macado’s in Farmville
- The Babcock House in Appomattox
- Hotel Weyanokes’ Effingham’s Restaurant in Farmville
- The Fishin’ Pig in Farmville
- Uptown Coffee Cafe in Farmville
LOCAL OUTDOOR OUTFITTERS:
- The Outdoor Adventure Store in Farmville
- The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat in Rice
- Appomattox River Company in Farmville
- Sailor’s Creek Outfitters in Rice
Tell us, where in Virginia do you like to “unplug” from technology and enjoy the natural beauty of the Commonwealth? Share your phone-free vacation suggestions with us in the comments below!
The Virginia Creeper Trail, beginning in Abingdon, consists of the Appalachian Trail in nearby Damascus.Don’t miss the muster grounds for the Over Mountain march – a turning point in the Revolutionary War.
If you mention St. Paul and Mendota, you need to highlight the historic town of Abingdon. An amazing number of outstanding restaurants for those times when you don’t want to cook on the trails. The Virginia Creeper Trail, beginning in Abingdon, connects to the Appalachian Trail in nearby Damascus.Don’t miss the muster grounds for the Over Mountain march – a turning point in the Revolutionary War. There is so much more. Maybe Abingdon deserves a piece on its own!
I definitely agree, I’ve done a blog solely about Abingdon and Bristol! Here you go: https://blog.virginia.org/2018/08/crush-friday-bristol-abingdon/
Looking forward where to go on my Honeymoon