Part of green living involves paying careful attention to your environmental impact, even while away from home. Plane trips and unsustainable mega resorts often place a strain on the environment, which can make your fun vacation feel like a drag before it even gets started.
Travel is a huge component of a healthy, happy life all year round. Taking periodic breaks away from work allows you to re-focus, and vacations bring families closer together. But if you're concerned about your family's eco-footprint, you might be tempted to abandon the idea of a vacation all together. Luckily, you don't have to choose between protecting the environment and enjoying a great vacation.
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As more people become aware of the impact travel and tourism can have on the environment, organizations and enterprising individuals have found ways to provide an environmentally friendly vacation. Through ecotourism, unconventional vacationing and wise travel planning, you can enjoy your getaway while keeping your environmental impact to a minimum.
You can be kind to the environment while vacationing pretty much anywhere by seeking hotels with sustainable policies and practicing good environmental stewardship — i.e., respecting the natural environment and cleaning up after yourself. But if you're interested in doing more, you can seek out nearby locations known for their outstanding commitment to a healthy earth.
No matter what kind of interests you and your family members have, taking a vacation together will strengthen the bonds you have and deepen your relationships. Why not choose a a green option while you’re at it and strengthen the Earth, too? Here are four green vacation destinations you can visit with your family this fall.
1) Asheville, North Carolina
This up-and-coming city in the Southeast United States combines the best parts of urban and natural life. Surrounded by some of the country's best preserved natural landscapes, Asheville draws visitors in with its ecotourism opportunities. Fall is the perfect time to visit if you want to experience the full beauty of the surrounding mountains as the tree leaves change.
While in Asheville, your family can experience a number of natural wonders. Chimney Rock State Park and Great Smokey Mountains National Park are both located within an hour's drive of the city, and various other forests and wild locations provide ample hiking opportunities.
If you need a break from the outdoors, the city itself also has a thriving artistic community and an array of green restaurants. Progressive young people are drawn to the city and its surrounding area, so be careful, or you and your family might end up moving in!
2) Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon
Breitenbush Hot Springs is a resort run by the members of an intentional community and worker-owned co-op. The staff members are all community citizens dedicated to serving the environment while providing great experiences for their guests. With the exception of a few select dates that you can see on their website, they're open year-round.
At Breitenbush, you and your family can enjoy the beautiful forest surroundings, soak in the natural hot springs and take classes on topics of spirituality and healing. Children are welcome, though those under 12 should be supervised by an adult at all times.
While at Breitenbush, you can rest assured that you're not hurting the environment on your vacation. The community operates off the grid, generating the resort's electricity through hydropower and using the natural heat of the hot springs to provide heating. Its innovative sustainable practices make the resort a great choice for families looking to disconnect and embrace nature.
3) Great Wolf Lodge Resorts
Great Wolf Lodge has hotels across the United States. Though they're best known for their popular and kid-friendly water parks, they also stand out for their commitment to sustainability. As the first hotel chain to achieve Green Seal Certification for its lodging, Great Wolf Lodge is a leader in green tourism.
To limit their environmental impact, Great Wolf Lodge resorts continue to limit water, energy and fuel usage. Some individual lodges have even started battery recycling initiatives. As part of their commitment to sustainability, they also provide environmental education programs for visiting kids.
Though the water parks at the resorts are not Green Seal certified, the company is taking steps to make them greener as well, so a Great Wolf Lodge could be a good vacation spot if you're hoping for a more traditional family vacation.
4) Lake Placid, New York
Instead of New York City, try Lake Placid, New York for your next vacation. The town itself is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint, and with nearby eco-friendly resorts and plenty of natural spots to explore, it's a great place for a family retreat.
While in Lake Placid, take a trip to Adirondack Park and visit The Wild Center with your kids to learn about the Adirondack forest. You can walk on bridges above the treetops, experience the 54,000 square foot museum or go on a guided canoe tour. The center provides both indoor and outdoor hands-on learning opportunities to connect with nature.
Whether you choose one of these destinations or find another green spot near you, it's possible to make your next family vacation both fun and safe for the environment. Ecotourism and sustainable resorts give visitors a more conscientious way to enjoy nature, so get out there guilt-free!