Green Travel in the Garden State

New Jersey makes it easy for eco-conscious travelers to keep their carbon footprint as small as possible.
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You recycle. You use energy-efficient bulbs. You take your morning coffee in a reusable mug. It might have taken awhile to get used to this lifestyle, but we've all become a bit more green. But things can get tricky when you venture outside your little corner of the ecosphere. They don't have to be. No matter where in New Jersey you travel, there are several ways to keep your carbon footprint as small as possible.

Try Ecotourism: This doesn't mean a weekend at the Jersey Shore - recycling your bottles of SPF. Instead, take a closer look at just what we're all fighting to save. The Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia is a past winner of the Governor's Tourism Award for Best Ecotourism Site. Observe four different packs of wolves in their natural habitat during twice-daily guided wolf watches. Or, take to the high seas and head to Cape May for whale or dolphin watching. The Cape May Whale Watcher sails from March to December and offers a fully narrated 2- to 3-hour excursion.

Choose a More Natural Habitat: The Element Ewing-Hopewell is the latest venture from Starwood Hotels. One of the first of its kind, the Element hotel chain is an eco-friendly property pursuing certification as a high-performing building from the U.S. Green Building Council. Environmentally friendly initiatives like shampoo dispensers in showers (no plastic bottles!) and recycling bins in each room are currently being implemented. Crystal Spring Resort in Vernon offsets its greenhouse gases through MyClimate, a non-profit foundation for climate protection. The resort also waters its golf course using treated septic water, among other green initiatives.

Go Organic: Do the things you love to do, but babysit the environment too. Raise a glass guilt-free at Finesville's Villa Milagro Vineyards. Here, the land is worked using organic and sustainable methods such as herbicide- and pesticide-free harvesting. The vineyard offers wine tastings, tours, cooking classes and events throughout the year for novices and oenophiles alike. Or, support local farms at A Toute Huere, a BYO bistro in Cranford. For its weekly-changing menu, A Toute Huere uses locally grown ingredients whenever possible. The bistro also composts all food scraps and uses green technology throughout its restaurant - a restored home in Cranford's Centennial Village.

Change Gears: Try a smaller set of wheels on for size. Patriots' Path is part of an ever-growing network of paved bike trails (as well as hiking and equestrian trails) that begins in East Hanover and takes the leisure cyclist through several counties. HART Commuter Information Services is a great resource for biking information for Hunterdon County and other areas. Along the way, you can enjoy sites including the George Griswold Felinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, Cooper Gristmill in Chester, as well as various parks and environmental high points.