With climate change and greenhouse gases at the front of everyone’s minds these days, many of us try to find way of ‘going green’ to save the environment. From recycling to paper over plastic packaging, we’re trying to do our bit but what about entertainment and leisure?
“Going green can increase your overall wellbeing!”
Going green can actually increase the spaces available to the public for activities. There are also proven health benefits of enjoying green spaces. According to a 2013 study from the UK, going green in your leisure time can lower stress levels, allow the brain to access a natural meditative state as well as increase your overall quality of life and wellbeing! Whether you love classic country parks, urban trails or epic national parks, you will find something here to enjoy. You can also be happy in the knowledge that you’re improving your quality of life as well as going green and saving the planet.
Edgy and Trendy Green Space
The Bloomingdale Trail, Chicago.
Some attractions lose their appeal due to the sheer volume of tourists overfilling the area. Whilst being a tourist is great, you might also want to soak in the atmosphere of nature. Chicago’s new greenway is the place to go for urbanites who want a bit of green space.
This $95 million greenway is built on an elevated freight train line which has been disused for many years. The original track dates back to 1873 but was elevated in the 1910s. . Rather than demolish it, the city has invested into making it a gorgeous and lush walkway. It’s part of a much larger project, The 606 where the city plans to invest millions into more than 800 parks by 2017.
The track is 2.7 miles and so there and back is a lovely way to spend the day, stopping off for lunch at the other side. It runs through the communities of Logan Square, Humboldt Park and West Town.
Want something similar elsewhere?
In the USA, The High Line in New York City is of the same elk as is The Trestle, in St Louis. Further afield you can jet off to Paris to the Promenade Plantee, the original greenway where old railtracks were repurposed for green space use.
The All-American National Parks
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park was the first ever national park to exist in the world in 1872. It sparked a global trend for countries to follow suit with the idea to protect the most precious spaces in their lands.
For those pure wow moments where nature takes you in its tumbling, enchanting grip, Yellowstone Park is among the best in America, even the world. The park itself houses many of America’s wonders including the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone Lake as well as one of the world’s largest petrified forests.
Also nicknamed the American Serengeti, Yellowstone is famed for its wildlife housing 67 species. The chances of catching a glimpse of grey wolves, grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, bison, bighorn sheep and pronghorn are excellent.
The Telegraph quotes writer Walter Stegner who hails the notion of the national park and the subsequent governing body, the National parks system as “America’s best idea…Absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worse.”
When the park was first created it was the strange, bubbling mud and volcanic scenery that attracted visitors rather than the wilds of animals which back then you could see in your own hometown. How things have changed!
Channel Islands, California
One of the main attractions of the Channel Islands are the fact that they see very few visitors making the 8-island chain a wonderful location to explore the glories of nature, particularly that of the ocean and it’s surroundings. There are more than 150 species some of which are unique to the Islands which has contributed to the Channel Islands nickname of the North American Galapagos.
The Islands are haven for water-folk where you will find hundreds of activities. In the summer, the largest aggregation of blue whales in the world assemble here and there are plenty of opportunities to go whale watching. Alongside kayaking through sea caves and secret camping spots you can also go diving to explore giant kelp beds.
Great Smoky Mountains
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains straddling the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina, is the most visited park in The United States? Well, it shouldn’t put you off taking a green outing to the idyllic, mountainous lands because there are plenty of acres to explore. The key thing to do is to avoid the main highway that acts as the main pass directly in the middle of the mountain range. It’s beautiful, granted, offering eye-dropping views as you pass but the bumper-to-bumper blockage in peak season leads much to be desired. Instead, follow one of the many byways covering 584 miles of wilderness and find your own secret hideaway.
Outside of your car, there are hundreds of hiking trails through acres of forest and wooded coves dotted with fairy tale streams with water so clear you could be in your own beautiful story. This parkland is especially suitable for those who appreciate earthy nature with more than 1600 species of plants including lady’s slipper orchids making it the most flowering park in all of North America. In June you can also expect to witness the synchronous fireflies in their ancient mating rituals which is a truly spectacular sight!
Love the great outdoors and crave the wilderness adventure? Check out these national parks:
The Everglades (Florida) for a subterranean adventure, Theodore Roosevelt for rugged, mountainous wild-west dreams, Zion (Utah) an imposing canyon flanked by rocky peaks and swirling river for awe-inspiring views.
The Urban Dweller Goes Green
Discovery Green Park, Houston Texas.
This is a wonderful city park with acres of green space and perfect for families. It’s also a dog-friendly zone so your four-legged friend can frolic and play ball to his heart’s content! With 12 acres in the middle of the city and plenty to offer, it’s no wonder the park has been nominated for the Nation’s Best Parks award for 2016.
It’s a very young park compared to many others, only opening it’s gates in 2008. Back in Texan history, the site once housed luxury accommodation for the elite until it was re-purposed as a set of two grey parking lots in the late 20th Century. With only a small strip of lawn, it was a sad and depressing spot. Now It’s hard to believe this tranquil green space was once an undeveloped, concrete monstrosity. The presence of the park has regenerated an entire area of Houston as well as providing a wonderful attraction for green-space lovers who crave the comforts of urban life.
Why not check it out for yourself? It’s somewhere to visit all-year round with plenty to do and loads of free events. In the winter, you can take park in a little festive ice-skating.
Love urban green spots and want more of the same? Similar Spots across the United States include:
Washington Park (Portland) for an outdoor oasis in one of the nation’s healthiest cities, Central Park (Manhattan), for endless trails and tranquility, Prospect Park (Brooklyn) for acres of green space, Millennium Park (Chicago) for urban edginess, Balboa Park (San Diego) for so much space you need to by a Balboa Passport!