Ecotourism in America: Virginia eco-itinerary

In the third installment of a series that focuses on the natural beauty and wildlife viewing opportunities available within the U.S., consider a family eco-getaway to Virginia. Within its state-sponsored website, Virginia Green, one can find travel tips, green vacation packages, eco-lodging by region and dining options as well as information about holding green conferences. There is also a special emphasis on eco-events, which from birding to dolphin watching to scavenger hikes to farm tours to park restoration days promises fun for each member of the family.

Depending on your proximity to the Washington, D.C metro area (including Virginia and Maryland), you can either take an Amtrak Virginia train or rent a hybrid vehicle from Enterprise, Hertz, or Budget.

Suggested family ecotourism activities:
  • Front Royal in Shenandoah Valley is spectacular when showing off its autumn colors. While there, you can go rafting, birding or fishing along the Shenandoah River. You can go biking and horseback riding in the Shenandoah River “Raymond R. Guest” State Park or enjoy a great hike along the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail.
  • Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Virginia Beach that provides refuge to snow geese, ducks, loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers, peregrine falcons and bald eagles.
  • Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With more than 14,000 acres of beach, maritime forest, salt marsh and freshwater marsh, it’s home to a variety of migratory birds, plants, and other animals.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with plenty of opportunities to explore areas such as Floyd County where you can hike Buffalo Mountain or Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail or bike, fish, camp, and photograph till content.
Suggested green lodging:
  • Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains collaborates with the Mountain Lake Conservancy to manage the lodge in a sustainable manner. This means that there is an emphasis on protecting resources, educational programming, managing and interpreting research, and providing recreational opportunities for all members of the family.

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