Slab City, California
A year-round (or lifelong) Burning Man for those tired of the grid
Whatever appeal Burning Man might hold for you -- the communal spirit, the art, the feeling of truly being in the middle of nowhere, the perpetually altered state of mind of so many visitors -- you can find it year-round in Slab City. The communal squatters camp lies about 200 miles from Los Angeles, east of the infamous Salton Sea, in the deep desert of California.
Full-time Slabbers, or "snowbirds," flock to the area in the winter months. Some stay in RVs; many live in self-made, found-object shacks. They live truly off the grid, with no electricity, water, or sewage system. Residents are said to give themselves their own addresses, as none formally exist. What snowbirds lack in modern comforts, they more than make up for in social freedom and overall incomparable life experience. (Perhaps the most famous visitor of recent years: the late Chris McCandless, the doomed wanderer extraordinaire of Into the Wild.) The camp features solar power, a community library, social clubs (complete with an annual prom), a golf club, and an abundance of art. The abandoned, converted WWII-era artillery range overflows with graffiti and sculpture gardens.
Visit when you're young, unless you plan to live there when you're old. To keep up with the Slabbers, even for a weekend visit, requires major energy, plus an uniquely open mind. -- Vivian Kane, Thrillist contributor