Take an ecofriendly Great Lakes break

This was written for my JRN 472 class and published on Great Lakes Echo on April 28, 2011.

Take an ecofriendly Great Lakes break

By Nicole LaChance

Between gas and fast food, a relaxing retreat can be hard on the planet. You can help by bringing a refillable water bottle and buying snacks in bulk before leaving.

Other tips for eco-vacations are at the Michigan Green Lodging page or The International Ecotourism Society. Some Great Lakes getaways try to ease the planet’s burden and provide fun for travelers. A few eco-friendly vacation ideas in the region:

Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast

Location: Ludington, Mich.

Less than a mile from Sterns Park Beach, the Candlelite is an ideal destination for a romantic weekend getaway. Guests can check in to one of the Inn’s seven themed rooms, visit downtown Ludington and spend the day on beautiful Lake Michigan. Want adventure? The Inn also offers Murder Mystery weekends like Maiming of the Shrew and Star Trek-The Next Generation. The weekends are only offered for groups of 6 to 8.

Green tip: Since 2008, the Inn has been a Michigan Green Lodging Partner, earned by having prominent recycling and avoiding disposable dishware, among other things.

Cost: $85-$159 per night. Prices vary for special packages. Visit www.candleliteinnludington.com to check out the rooms and make a reservation.

Apostle Islands

Location: Minnesota and Wisconsin

Paddle through the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and marvel at the natural beauty of Lake Superior, the deepest Great Lake. The island chain is known for its rich culture and environmental preservation, even receiving honors as an adventure destination from National Geographic Magazine.

Green tip: Exploring this area will give any visitor a greater appreciation of the Great Lakes. And kayaking doesn’t use any oil so a carbon footprint is no worry.

Cost: Starts at $2,495 per person for an eight day tour, lodging and some meals. Check out the tours here.

Chicago Lakefront

Location: Chicago, Ill.

Cruising down Chicago’s lake front path provides an urban oasis bustling city on one side and the pristine lakeshore on the other. A visitor can easily spend hours biking the extensive lake shore, so be sure to bring along a picnic.

Green tip: Too tired to travel back? Check out the Allegro Chicago and grab some fair trade coffee while basking in the energy-efficient air conditioning. The hotel even uses non-toxic cleaning products free of bleach and other harsh chemicals.

Cost: Bike rental starts at $35 a day at www.bikechicago.com. Visit www.allegrochicago.com for room rates.

Inn Serendipity

Location: Browntown, Wis.

Inn Serendipity is all about the calm. Guests go back to a simpler time while exploring the Inn’s farm, which includes a dairy barn and large garden. Guests are served fresh, organic produce right from the Inn’s backyard.

Green tip: Even Serendipity’s electricity is designed with the earth in mind. Since 2003, the Inn has been powered by 100 percent renewable energy, including a solar-powered greenhouse and a wind turbine. It also serves as an educational site for carbon-neutral living.

Cost: For rates and information on Inn Serendipity’s environmental mission, visit www.innserendipity.com.

Isle Royale National Park

Location: Keeweenaw, Mich.

This Great Lakes island is known for its wolf and moose populations. In fact, the wildlife has made Isle Royale a part of one of the longest ongoing investigations of predator-prey relationships. Does it get any more natural than that?

Green tip: The island appears to be almost untouched, and can be easily walked or canoed around. Any visitor will enjoy this look at the beauty of Lake Superior.

Cost: Starts at $3,195 for an eight day tour, lodging and some meals. Visit here for more information.

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