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Budget Travel | Dreamy, Earth-friendly Vacations for the…

Budget Travel | Dreamy, Earth-friendly Vacations for the…

Celebrate the environment, sustainability, and natural beauty by booking a trip to these lovely and Earth-friendly destinations. These places not only enchant visitors with their beautiful scenery, but special care is made by local organizations to protect and preserve their charm for generations to come. While booking a vacation for Earth Month (April) is a fun idea, there’s really no bad time to visit these spots below.

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful and unique states in the US, and local efforts to preserve the people, place, and culture are strong. County of Hawai’i’s Hawai’i Sustainability Summit 2024 Community Celebration takes places this year on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, April 20, 2024. Held at Kailua Kona’ Brewery Block, this celebration will showcase the accomplishments of this year’s Hawai’i Sustainability Summit and establish commitments to the county’s sustainable initiatives. The celebration will conclude this year’s summit with a community event featuring local-grown foods, sustainable products and live, local music and talent.

Also on the Big Island, the Hawai’i Land Trust (HILT) has opened its first series of Talk Story on the Land Hikes and Volunteer Days at the Māhukona Navigational and Ecological Complex on the Kohala Coast. In December, HILT, in partnership with the nonprofit Nā Kālai Waʻa as well as federal, state and county agencies, and the Kohala community, announced that it had closed on its largest-ever purchase, permanently protecting 642 acres at Māhukona. The public is invited to join community representatives for a brief guided interpretive hike or volunteer service opportunity. Both experiences aim to offer the community opportunities to learn about the Māhukona area’s cultural significance and history as well as elements of traditional Hawaiian ocean navigation.

On Oahu, the International Market Place (IMP) is hoping to inspire mindful travel and protect and preserve Hawai’i’s natural world with its recent partnership with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii for beach cleanups. Participants in IMP’s DIY Beach Cleanup Program can receive a $20 gift card valid through December 1, 2024. Visit the IMP’s Customer Service Desk on Level 1, Mauka Court to learn more.

Turtle Bay Resort is home to the 480-acre Kuilima Farm, which provides the resort with more than 700 lbs of fresh produce each week, and even more produce to the local community. Kuilima Farm offers 45-minute farm tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Tour participants enjoy a scavenger hunt for native Hawaiian plants and, occasionally, the opportunity to help with new native plantings.

Wayfinder Waikiki has created volunteer experiences for residents, visitors and hotel guests to explore O’ahu and make a lasting impact on the planet. The activities include farm experiences, beach cleanups, and cultural education and sustainability initiatives such as the ones listed below. As part of the hotel’s Mālama Hawaiʻi initiative, $1 per night of every stay is donated to the Bishop Museum.

  • Cultural Education and Sustainability Initiatives with the Bishop Museum — The recently launched “Hawaiian Stars and Stories: Wayfinder Planetarium Adventure” is a special initiative, happening every third Friday monthly, allowing participants to explore the science of traditional non-instrument navigation practiced by early Hawaiians and learn about Hawaiian history and royal artifacts on a guided tour of the museum’s Hawaiian Hall.
  • Taro Field Restoration with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi Farm — On the final Friday of each month, participating Wayfinder Waikiki guests are driven by shuttle to Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi farm to participate in the restoration of its lo’i kalo (wetland taro terraces), forge connections with its dedicated workers and gain an appreciation for the cultural and environmental importance of O’ahu’s Heʻeia community.
  • Beach Cleanups with Waikīkī ‘Ohana Workforce (WOW) and 808 Cleanups — Wayfinder Waikiki regularly partners on volunteer beach cleanups with these nonprofit environmental organizations committed to restoring the natural beauty and ecology of Hawaiʻi’s coastlines.
The sun ripples over the beach in St. Augustine, Florida by Maddie DiFilippo – Unsplash

Each year, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches, known as Florida’s Historic Coast welcomes visitors from around the world to enjoy its unique charms. One of the region’s main attractions is the 42 miles of pristine beaches that stretch from Ponte Vedra south to Marineland. Tucked into a slight nook on North Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the beaches provide a place for play and relaxation, a protected habitat for numerous animal and plant species, and a barrier that protects many waterfront homes, hotels, and businesses. Florida’s Historic Coast residents and officials are passionate about preserving this precious resource for today and future generations while still providing access to an important part of the destination. And soon, visitors and residents can enjoy lush, freshly restored beaches!

Much like the historic architecture that lines St. Augustine’s Historic District and the lush vegetation that thrives throughout Florida’s Historic Coast, resources like the beaches need regular and highly specialized care to ensure their integrity and natural beauty stay intact. St. Johns County, home to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches, is taking measures to protect its beaches by performing beneficial restoration projects with minimal impact on beachgoers throughout the summer. The short and sweet of it – the beaches will be open and ready to welcome visitors. Visitors and residents can plan their beach visits around the current work sites by visiting the St. Johns County project website here.

The beach is ready and waiting. As it has been for generations, surfing on Florida’s Historic Coast is a favorite pastime here. The Springtime winds kick up just enough waves for buggy boarding, traditional surfing, and the thrills of kite surfing. There are plenty of surf shops to set you up with the right gear. Once summer hits, plan to swim in the calm ocean waters, relax and soak up the sun on the newly restored beaches. What better way to see long expanses of the Atlantic Ocean than to bike the beach? Riding at low tide offers beach bikers a nice firm sand base. And, nothing beats a drive along the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway – A Must Do Experience.

There are several beautiful oceanfront resorts and hotels, as well as vacation rentals and campgrounds along Florida’s Historic Coast. Something for every budget and style. Use the trip planner to plan your seaside getaways to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and The Beaches today.

Mount Rainier National Park by Joshua Peacock – Unsplash

Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood is getting a new hotel in 2024. Located in RailSpur, a sustainable micro-district that includes three historic warehouse buildings, the hotel will include 120 guest rooms and suites, signature indoor and outdoor restaurant on activated “Railspur” alley, as well as a rooftop bar. Hotel Westland is anticipated to be one of the most sustainable hotel openings in the U.S and only the second hotel in the country to be “carbon-positive.”

While in town, check out the three national parks – Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park – are within driving distance of Seattle, making the city a fantastic basecamp for outdoor exploration. From stunning lake hikes to fall colors, to wildlife sightings of pikas, mountain goats, and marmots, there’s lots to love about our state’s national parks. Don’t forget to hit up a local brewery after your outdoor forays.

Anticipated to be completed in summer 2024, the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion shares the story that we have the power to save our oceans. In the Ocean Pavilion, visitors will be able to witness the exquisite biodiversity of a reef ecosystem in the Coral Triangle, a marine area in the tropical Pacific – coming face-to-face with sharks, rays, schooling fish, mangroves, seagrasses, and nearly 30 species of coral.

For a unique wildlife sighting, plan to come sometime between July and November, when visitors can witness three species of Pacific Salmon passing through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks. See as many as hundreds of salmon per day through huge glass windows at the fish ladder as they return upriver to spawn. An average of 15,000 Chinook salmon pass through the Locks each year, with peak viewing in August.

A bottle of Carbon-nay – courtesy of Evan Nelson/WarRoom Cellars + Bonny Doon Vineyards

Always innovating, Bonny Doon Vineyards in Santa Cruz, California is set to become the first winery in the country to use fully-recyclable paper wine bottles. The winery’s rosé wine — which is being marketed as Carbon-nay — will be sold at Whole Foods stores throughout California this spring and will expand to other stores throughout the U.S. This new packaging – shaped like a wine bottle – is five times lighter than a traditional wine bottle, reducing the carbon footprint of bottling and shipping. 

Fully recyclable, the packaging weighs just under three ounces, providing expanded real estate to print information and artwork around the bottle. Designed from 94 percent recycled paperboard with a food-grade pouch inserted to contain the wine, paper bottles are becoming ubiquitous in Europe. Through innovative practices like popularizing screwcaps and the first winery to embrace true transparency with its ingredient labeling initiative, Bonny Doon Vineyards grew to become the 28th largest winery in the U.S. and is credited with popularizing Rhône grapes in California.

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is one of the oldest in the country and many wineries within Santa Cruz County employ eco-friendly practices. Storrs Winery, located in Corralitos sits on the site of a former quarry. A 6,800 square-foot structure houses the production facility, barrel room and tasting room, adjacent to a vineyard complete with helpful signage explaining the habitat and wildlife that make this place their home. The organically-farmed site is also a teaching opportunity for biodynamic farming, catering to home gardeners and small scale farmers. A rare 1945 Willys Overland convertible also graces the site, as well as a piece of stained glass from an old church found at an antique shop decades ago and a table milled from pines culled from the estate’s property. Relying on stellar fruit from Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards, Storrs’ Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah are all hand-crafted from this boutique winery.

Located along the Central Coast, Santa Cruz County, California, is approximately 70 miles/113 km south of San Francisco and 349 miles/562 km from Los Angeles. Many visitors choose to take scenic Highway 1 along the California coastline to Santa Cruz or Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visitors can also choose to fly into San Francisco International Airport or San Jose Mineta International Airport.  

Cyclists explore Ridgeland, Mississippi – courtesy of Explore Ridgeland

Explore Ridgeland, based in central Mississippi, has introduced the Ridgeland Bikeshare Program, providing visitors with free bicycles for exploring Ridgeland and its surroundings.

The program aims to offer convenient and sustainable transportation options for both locals and tourists to explore Ridgeland’s attractions, including the National Park – Natchez Trace Parkway, the Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail, the Reservoir Overlook, shopping districts such as the Railroad District, Renaissance at Colony Park, and the Township at Colony Park as well as crafted trails.

Chris Chapman, executive director and CEO of Explore Ridgeland, stated, “We’re excited to offer our guests free bicycles to explore Ridgeland’s shops, boutiques, restaurants, and outdoor recreational venues. Thanks to our partners, Bikeshare racks are conveniently located, and bicycles can be unlocked using the Koloni App.”

As featured on the Bikeshare brochure and Bikeshare video, cyclists can explore natural scenery along the Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail or urban routes along Highland Colony Parkway, passing through outdoor shopping and lifestyle districts like Renaissance at Colony Park.

The Bike Crossing and the Ridgeland Visitors Center are available to assist both locals and visitors interested in using the Bikeshare service. Bikes are available during daylight hours based on availability, and safety is encouraged. The city of Ridgeland requires cyclists to wear protective helmets which are conveniently provided with the bike share program. Bikeshare cyclists will find helmets in the bike baskets.

Since its launch in February, the program has seen interest from visitors nationwide.

“My wife and I had a wonderful date on Ridgeland’s new Bikeshare bikes,” Russ Daniels, an entertainer from New York City, said. “We rode around the Renaissance, explored the bike paths, and ended by eating at Aplos. The process to rent the bikes was simple and the scenery was beautiful! We love Ridgeland!”

Ridgeland is renowned as Mississippi’s premier cycling destination, hosting various cycling events such as the annual Natchez Trace Century Ride. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own bikes to explore Mag Ridge BMX Track and at the Ridgeland Mountain Bike Trails.


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