9 Eco-Conscious Ways to Explore Pure Michigan

Some folks like to get back to basics with organic foods, raw cuisine, a walk outdoors, green restaurants  and more. Explore a few of these environmentally conscious options in Pure Michigan.

A girl reaching into a bucket of fresh picked cherries
Klenk Orchards | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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1. Visit a Farm, Winery and Brewery in One

Pond Hill Farm is a year round destination for family fun and delicious foods. For more than 20 years, the environmentally sustainable farm has sold herbs, fruits and vegetables grown and canned onsite. This eco-friendly farm also offers a store that features everything from maple syrup to Christmas wreaths made with local tree greens.

2. Taste new Flavors

Try Ann Arbors Cafe Zola, you'll find the freshest ingredients for their omelets, crepes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees and pastries. Nearly all of the restaurants produce, dairy, eggs, poultry, meat and seafood dishes are made from organic products. Use utensils made from corn and potato starch at Brick Road Pizza Co. in Grand Rapids. Munch on pizzas made with free-range meat or order one of the many vegan items.

3. Get a Glimpse at Going Green

Solar energy heats The Nature House at Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor. The center is a special place where people of all ages can explore 50 acres of land and Black Pond Woods. Composting toilets use no water and many of the interior finishes are made from soy resin and sunflower plants.

4. Explore the Seasons on Horseback

Explore the trails on more than 4,000 acres at Boyne Highlands Resort. Guided rides are taken in every season, so you can take a fall color tour, bask in the sun or experience the hush of the snow-covered terrain in Boyne.

5. Walk on the Wild Side

Ride caravan-style through Marshland Wildlife Drive and backcountry to see animals in their natural habitat at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the nearly 96,000 acres of diverse habitat live a wide variety of wildlife species. Here visitors encounter the cry of common loons, regal trumpeter swans, brilliant dragonflies, nesting bald eagles, and industrious beaver. Visitors can drive the Marshland Drive or walk the Pine Ridge Nature Trail, from dawn until dusk.

6. Paddle Along

Kayaking is one of the most popular water sports and Michigan has some of the best paddling opportunities in the country. Paddlers can enjoy quiet inland lakes and rivers as well as Michigan's Water Trails and more than 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline.

7. Stay Downtown

The El Moore Lodge, in the walkable, historic area of Midtown Detroit, near the area’s art scene (Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit Institute of Arts) and excellent dining options (Selden Standard, Mario’s and Avalon International Breads), also focuses on environmental stewardship. The multi-use development includes a community park, Eco Art and urban sustainable food retail space, and focuses on the environment with solar PV panels and use of geothermal heating/cooling materials when updating the building to save on waste and much more.

8. Hit the Slopes

Crystal Mountain, a premier ski resort with 58 downhill trails and other year-round amenities, is home to the first LEED-certified spa in the Midwest, outfitted its hotel with geothermal energy and practices in-room recycling, plus electric golf carts. In 2018, the National Ski Areas Association awarded the resort its Climate Change Impact Award for the mountain’s advocacy of and investment in clean energy.

9. Crack a Beer

While exploring the booming beer scene in Grand Rapids, swing by Brewery Vivant, known for its Belgian and French style beers. The brewery operates according to the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet, & Profit. In 2014, it became the 4th certified B Corporation in West Michigan, meaning it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Brewery Vivant was awarded the first ever LEED certification (LEED Silver) for a production brewery in the United States, in 2012.