6 of the best eco-friendly USA destinations

Concerned about your ecological impact when you travel to the USA? Here’s our pick of eco-friendly USA travel destinations, where you can cut your carbon footprint, enjoy the great outdoords, eat local, support sustainable companies and even volunteer on conservation programmes. 


Hit the urban nature trail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Once known as the ‘Smoky City’, the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has become an urban eco hub with bike rental schemes, green-certified building space, and companies deploying pioneering sustainable design and green technology. Once an industrial centre, this city is surprisingly green and offers ample opportunity for outdoors adventures - kayaking on rivers, cycling along riverfront trails or hiking through parks, right. Head off on the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage trail which begins at Pittsburgh's Point State Park, and connects with the C&O Canal Towpath in Maryland allowing you to end up in Washington DC 335 miles later! 


Sustainable fun in LEED Platinum Washington DC

In 2017 Washington DC was named the first LEED Platinum city in the world thanks to its environmentally-friendly practices. You can travel eco by making use of an extensive network of bike paths, a bike sharing scheme, and take your pick of ecologically-responsible, LEED-certified hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, including the city's Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer stadiums. You can even hang out in the city's new sustainable neighbourhood, The Wharf. This waterfront development, pictured left, just four blocks from the National Mall, offers entertainment, dining and shopping and was built using sustainable measures that earned it LEED-Neighborhood Development Gold status.


Go green in California

As one of the forward-thinking - and wealthy - states in the USA, it’s no surprise that California is a top eco-friendly USA destination. The state of California has 125,000 green jobs, the most in the entire USA, and ecotourism is high on the agenda. Head to the city of San Francisco for a sustainable holiday; it regularly ranks as North America’s greenest city and has a history of environmental consciousness. Visitors can explore by foot or bike on extensive cycling and walking trails and eat local at farmers markets. Outside the state’s cities, you can explore the great outdoors - hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more. 

Eco ambitions in New York City

New York is one of the most eco-friendly cities to visit in the USA, and has committed to the OneNYC strategy. Goals include reducing NYC's greenhouse-gas emissions to 80 per cent of 2005 levels by 2050, eliminating waste sent to landfills by 2030, and ensuring all New Yorkers have access to green spaces. The result is a raft of innovative initiatives that benefit locals, visitors and the environment. It’s easy to travel eco here, thanks to greenways including the High Line aerial park, right, and more than 1,000 miles of bike lanes and routes. The city is focussed on the development of green spaces including green roofs and urban farms, and recently made Central Park and Prospect Park car-free. Its hotels are becoming more sustainable too, with new hotels built to high eco standards and 19-plus properties committing to the NYC Carbon Challenge — a citywide initiative focused on reducing building-generated emissions 30 percent by 2025.


Support the ecosystem in Maine

Maine’s natural landscape is one of its key attractions for visitors, so it’s not hard to see why the state’s Department of Environmental Protection encourages ecotourism behaviour and practices and offers visitors a series of ecotourism guidelines. It also encourages visitors to support local businesses as well as environmentally-conscious hotels including Inn By The Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, and tour operators. If you're visiting, you can support Maine's conservation efforts in different ways, but holidaying in the 100-Mile Wilderness region is one of them. The area is being promoted as a world-class outdoor recreation destination as part of the Maine Woods Initiative, which is designed to promote both the economy and ecology of the area. It’s the place to go for hiking, fishing, biking, rafting, wildlife watching and skiing in an area of extraordinary natural beauty.

Take part in coral conservation in Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is committed to sustainable tourism, and has established the Florida Green Lodging Program, a set of environmental guidelines for hotels and motels to help them save water, save energy, reduce waste and prevent pollution. There are also plenty of protected parks and reefs. Visitors can learn about Florida Keys’ barrier coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which was established off the Upper Keys in 1963 as America’s first underwater preserve.


Alternatively visit the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, located on the Key West waterfront at Truman Annex. The centre is home to a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory, and a 2,400-gallon tank full of fish and sea creatures indigenous to the Keys. Visitors to the Keys can also volunteer to take part in the world's biggest reef restoration effort, working with marine experts in coral nurseries with Coral Restoration Foundation or doing marine surveys with Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) REEF.  


Meanwhile there’s a refuge for each of the key indigenous creatures including Key Deer, Great White Herons and Turtles. Marathon’s Turtle Hospital, is the only one of its kind in the world. Visit to tour the facilities and learn how they care for loggerhead, green, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley turtles before retiring them to the wild.   

Posted on: 14/10/2018

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