When people think of traveling in the United States, images of the Vegas strip, Hollywood glitz, and castles of Disneyland, and NY City come to mind. But there is more to offer than Rodeo Drive and Mickey Mouse and even more ways to save money and the planet while you see authentic America.
Florida – Forget Walt Disney World and all its gaudy glitz and glamour and check out Mother Nature. Florida is rich with crystal-clear springs for swimming and paddling, parks for bird watching, and sub-tropical wilderness to discover on the hiking trails. The “Real Florida” offers charming history in the “Oldest City,” St. Augustine—the oldest European settlement in the US. Forget the fake animals and check out the pink spoonbills, manatees and playful dolphins. Stay in a healthy vacation home like “The Riverview,” centrally located just minutes from all the sites, including parks and the beaches. The owners have a passion for art, community and the environment, a trio of passions that reveal themselves over and over again in this treehouse like two bedroom home set in a nature preserve on the Matanzas River.
Then head south to Palm Beach County where you can skip the bling and enjoy the real Florida at Peanut Island Park in the Lake Worth Lagoon of West Palm Beach. This site covers 86 acres and is accessible only by boat. You can snorkel safely in the lagoon which is teeming with colorful fish. Then pitch a tent on the beach in one of the designated camping spots or stay in an authentic Seminole Indian-style chickee huts.
In the south part of the county, check out the Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton which has a spring break camp for kids. The Nature Center is worth a visit anytime to see the rescued marine life, including endangered sea turtles.
Gamble with Vegas or head for Amazing Arizona. Stoneman Lake Eco Lodge, Arizona is set in five acres of pine woodland next to Stoneman Lake in the Coconino National Forest. The main room of the Lodge, The Great Hall is homey with comfy sofas and an old stone fireplace. The deck outside is the perfect setting for meals looking out over the lake. The lodge uses only solar and wind power for energy and was built using natural materials. Located near Flagstaff and Sedona, it makes an excellent retreat within driving distance of other sites.
Or have a spiritual awakening in the heart of the red rocks at Casita Colibri, Sedona, Arizona where you can walk to trails, vortexes and yoga studios. This healthy home is fragrance and smoke-free and greenovated with no VOC finishes and materials. The interior reflects the owners’ trio of passions for art, the environment and culture with many touches including sun-drenched colors and handmade furnishings.
Grand Canyon by Rail – Tour the southern rim of one of the Seven Wonders of the World by coach. Formed over millions of years by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon’s beauty and grandeur is impossible to explain so you need to go see it for yourself. The best time for viewing is at dawn or dusk when the hues of the red earth are at their best.
WildSpring Guest Habitat, Oregon – Set in a pristine forest beneath 100ft trees, this small eco-friendly luxurious resort overlooks the southern Oregon coast where you’ll be able to view Californian grey whales from the decking. Enjoy a dip in the open-air spa after a walk through the National Wildlife Federation certified habitat which is packed with historical sites and hiking trails.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Colorado saved 5,000 acres from high-density development. 16 cabins with heating and cooling developing only 1 percent of the land leaving the rest wild. 1-800-933-4339.
Discover the Sights by Rail - USA by Rail is a dedicated website for rail travel through the states. It’s a cheap and easy way to travel where you want to go and is kind to the environment too.