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Eco-Friendly Getaways Near Chicago

March 30, 2017 By Mira Temkin

Looking for a place to escape within driving distance of the Chicago area? How about some family-friendly venues and destinations that support a “go green” initiative? These great getaways near Chicago are all within a five hour drive. Plus, find tips for reducing the carbon footprint of your travel at carbonfund.org.

Going Green in Wisconsin
Our neighbor to the North is one of the few states that actually features a Travel Green Wisconsin website, complete with certifications that promote smart, environmentally friendly business practices. Just a few hours away are a variety of Travel Green certified restaurants, hotels and venues that are committed to sustaining green practices and supporting the local economy.

It’s Grand in Lake Geneva

Splash down fun at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark (Photo courtesy of Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark.)

The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark are close by, so you can slip, slide and sleep while creating wonderful memories for your family. The big draw at Timber Ridge is the 50,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor waterpark, Moose Mountain Falls, with pools, slides, a lazy river, several hot tubs, and new musically inspired waterslide, Avalanche Falls. Check out their special packages for great savings and family fun.

Right next door is the AAA Four-Diamond Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, an all-season resort with a weekly schedule of recreational activities, family entertainment and leisure programming. Take on a life-size game of Human Foosball or let the kids go for Pastries and Picassos, where they can create a masterpiece on a plate and enjoy a delicious treat.

“The natural beauty of Grand Geneva is something that should not be taken for granted. Grand Geneva and Timber Ridge are committed to going green, reducing their carbon footprint and embracing the natural beauty that surrounds them,” says Steve Magnuson, managing director at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark.

Green initiatives at Grand Geneva and Timber Ridge include the full range of amenities. “The resorts’ fertile locale cultivated a natural herb and vegetable garden, which provides fresh produce for the Ristoranté Brissago, Geneva ChopHouse
and Grand Café,” says Magnuson.

In addition, local partners are utilized in all of the Grand Geneva restaurants.
“Since 2009, Grand Geneva has participated in the Clean the World program, which collects leftover soap and bottled amenities from guest rooms for redistribution to children and families in need,” Magnuson says. Clean the World has distributed more than 17 million bars of soap in 96 different countries.

In 2010, Grand Geneva became the first resort in the Midwest to offer an on-site charging station for electric cars, including two Tesla electric charging stations. Timber Ridge regulates its electricity, heating and cooling with guests’ keys alone, and has converted to all LED lights in guestrooms

Braise the Bar in Milwaukee
Check out Braise, Milwaukee’s first community supported agriculture (CSA) restaurant, where diners find a truly unique farm-to-table experience that supports the local economy. Braise grows their own vegetables, bakes their own bread and butchers their own meats. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new to try. From seasonally inspired menus and creative cocktails, to hands-on classes and events, they work to educate their community on food. Braise serves dinner only.

Earth-Friendly in the Dells

Enjoy a bacon cheeserburger at Moosejaw. (Photo courtesy of Moosejaw Pizza.)

It’s not just great pizza. It’s pizza and burgers that subscribe to eco-friendly practices. Yes, at Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company, delivery vehicles run on vegetable oil, recycled from the kitchen fryer. They also handcraft 10 varieties of their own beer with the used brewing grains recycled as horse feed. And there’s a gluten-free menu as well.

Race to Indy
Just a few hours south lies Indianapolis, a great city known for its family-friendly venues. The largest children’s museum in the world, the five-story Indianapolis Children’s Museum, continues to win awards for its innovative, hands-on activities. Enjoy interactive exhibits exploring art, science, history and culture, a Dinosphere, and planetarium.

Another good bet is White River State Park, America’s only cultural urban state park with 250 acres of green space. Explore the park by bike, Segway, or your own two feet as you meander through the Indianapolis Zoo, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, NCAA Hall of Champions, Indiana State Museum and Victory Field. A recommended green stay is The Hampton Inn Indianapolis/Carmel, which features energy efficient, LEED certified accommodations. The Hampton also offers organic products, recycling programs, solar panels, biodegradable materials, and even eco- tourism activities. Ask about their special package for the Children’s Museum.

Do the Dunes in Silver Lake, Michigan

Kids have fun rolling down the dunes. (Photo courtesy of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce.)

Located on Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Ludington, Silver Lake is often called Michigan’s “Golden Coast,” where you’ll find 70-foot tall sand dunes. You can ride in dune buggy or simply hike to the top — it’s pure joy to run down the dunes. Visit the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, which sits right on the beach. Try sandboarding, which lets you glide down the sand. Rent everything you need for sandboarding at The Sand Box in Mears.

“Our sandboards are specifically designed just for sandboarding,” says Terri Sharpe, owner of The Sand Box. “You can ride it like a sled or stand up. The boards have to be waxed before each run. People love it because it’s exhilarating and it’s easy for kids to do. There’s nothing quite like a run down the dunes under your own power,” adds Sharpe.

See more here.

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