Top Five Eco-Friendly Summer Excursions

By Allyson Koerner

“Being committed to this for so long it is great to see more and more
people are aware of green travel.”
-Laura Hurley, Public Relations Associate Director of Appalachian Mountain Club

Getting ready to plan an exciting summer vacation? Why not embrace the new vacationing movement known as “Responsible Tourism?” Here you can help protect the environment by selecting green destinations and activities.

To help you in your quest to “vacation responsibly” below are some of our favorite eco summer excursions throughout the U.S and Canada.

1. Wine Country
We couldn’t create a top destination list without including one of our all-time favorite vacation spots–Napa Valley. Meaning “land of plenty,” Napa Valley is a flourishing area of agriculture with more than 438,000 acres of preserves and watershed protection lands. With seven Regions of the Valley visitors can choose from a variety of attractions.

One is the region of American Canyon. Located in the southern end of Napa County, American Canyon boasts a variety of eco-friendly attractions and accommodations including the Wetland Preserve where many bird species reside and the “World’s First” Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certified Hotel called Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa. Greek for “Mother Earth,” Gaia is totally sustainable in design, operations and amenities. Its restaurant uses only locally produced food while the hotel features carpet made from with recycled materials, and uses only eco-friendly cleaning materials and non-toxic fertilizers for landscaping, among other things. And let’s not forget about Spa Gaia, which offers luxurious massages, spa treatments and skin care services using only organic products. Stunning views, luxurious amenities and green—what a combination!

Photo Credit: Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa

Photo Credit: Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa

2. Health and Relaxation
The Midwest is a great region to travel if you’re seeking a combination of fun and healthy relaxation. Michigan’s Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa is home to the renowned Crystal Spa, the only LEED certified spa in the Midwest. Spa guests enjoy massages, body and skincare treatments, along with nail and makeup services. Resort guests also enjoy outdoor adventure programs like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which has sand dunes that rise 460 feet above Lake Michigan. Other activities include a climbing wall, water playground and two certified golf courses.

Photo Credit: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa

Photo Credit: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa

3. Sun and Fun
A great way to enjoy the sunshine, water and natural environment is vacationing in the South. Florida’s Amelia Island Plantation Resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, and has taken part in green practices since it opened in 1971.  The resort is a proud member of  the Florida Green Lodging Program, utilizing “green” practices through water conservation, energy efficiency and recycling.

Guests enjoy a variety of eco-friendly activities such as golfing 54 holes on the acclaimed golf courses that use reclaimed water for irrigation or a relaxing day at the holistic spa that uses “clean and green” products. Kids can also venture to the nature center and learn about nature and its creatures.

This summer, the resort is offering a Family Nature Adventure where the whole family can learn about and explore nature.  Another fun activity includes Amelia’s Wheels where you can rent bicycles and golf carts to travel around the resort and trails.

According to Amy Lacroix, marketing manager of Amelia Island Plantation, “Over 30 years ago we developed the tagline, ‘In harmony with nature,’ and we are educating people to continue with that.”

Photo Credit: Amelia Island Plantation

Photo Credit: Amelia Island Plantation

4. Hiking and Sightseeing
Like the outdoors and hiking through the mountains? Travel to the East Coast and stay at the Highland Lodge in gorgeous New Hampshire. Children and adults can participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, paddling and trips to White Mountain.

The Highland Lodge is part of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the nation’s oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization. The lodge is committed to environmental and energy conservation and is also a part of the Highland Center, a lodge and education center made of recycled steel with natural vegetation planted in front. The Highland Center also includes educational trails where guests can learn about trail maintenance, explore nature and learn about the local history.

According to Hurley, “The Highland Lodge was [AMC’s] opportunity to build from the ground up and incorporate an environmentally friendly design.”

Guests can learn more about the center through its daily “Green Tours” and can learn more about the environment through the center’s outdoor exploration programs that teaches both kids and adults about ecology, how to track animals, rock climb and snow shoe in the winter. Don’t want to take the trip to New Hampshire? Check out AMC’s other 12 locations.

Photo Credit: Sarah Jane Shangraw, Courtesy of AMC

Photo Credit: Sarah Jane Shangraw, Courtesy of AMC

5. Adventure on the Water
If you like adventure on the water, travel North to experience Seascape Kayak Tours. Based in the Bay of Fundy on Canada’s East Coast, Seascape offers small-group sea kayaking in the Bay of Fundy along with organized trips to Newfoundland and Costa Rica. Through kayaking, paddlers come in direct contact with the environment, and learn about the ocean ecosystem and the importance of preserving land and water.

Seascape offers tours year-round and will customize a trip to fit your schedule. Don’t know how to kayak? No worries, because Seascape offers training programs and uses the Bay of Fundy as an outdoor classroom. Courses such as “Introduction to Sea Kayaking,” “Sea Kayaking Safety” and a “Coastal Kayaking Guides Course” are available for anyone to take.

Photo Credit: Warren Lynn

Photo Credit: Warren Lynn

There you have it, our top five picks for eco summer excursions. Know of some other environmentally-friendly hot spots that we didn’t include? We want to hear from you! Comment on this blog post or email us at news@econewsnetwork.org.

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