By Lauren Levine
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Charlotte without wasting gas, ditching trash and leaving other harmful footprints on the planet as you go. For those who are environmentally conscious (props to you!), here are some of the best green-friendly experiences and natural beauty the Queen City has to offer.
Marvel at May Flowers
Located on the banks of stunning Lake Wylie and boasting 380 acres of lush scenery, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the perfect way to spend a spring or summer afternoon. Take a horticulture walk to learn about the blooms that surround you or try a birding walk to scout out feathered friends. To bring life to your own backyard, check out one of the McMillan Greenhouse’s At Home in the Garden series classes at UNC Charlotte. You’ll learn about pruning, planting and timing to create a flourishing garden.
Turn Your Retail Scene Green
Attention, all shoppers: if you’re tired of doing your grocery gathering under fluorescent lights, flex your green thumb and try a different approach. The Charlotte Regional Farmers Market offers a refreshing take on buying produce, beef, cheese, baked goods and more. Instead of guessing which ingredients are best for that recipe you have in mind, get advice directly from the expert who grew them right here on local soil. And for eco-chic fashions and accessories, head to American Apparel at SouthPark Mall, which features a 100-percent organic cotton collection.
After a day of play at Discovery Place, it’s time to refuel. But if you think greasy fast food is your only option, think again. The museum’s in-house Community Café serves up health-conscious selections that include fresh, local products sourced from Charlotte-area purveyors. The Café is dedicated to the Something Classic Green Goddess Alliance, a program that features organic fare and biodegradable service ware. Kids will love chowing down on choices like turkey sloppy joes, fruit and yogurt parfaits, and eggplant fries. At the end of the meal, toss your trash into the on-site recycling and compost bins; you’ll take one big step toward reducing Charlotte’s carbon footprint.
THREE TO SEE
Landing a killer penthouse view at LEED-certified The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is typically exclusive to VIPs, but if you’re one of the 100,000 bees that call the hotel rooftop home, it’s no big deal. Find the honey produced by these very bees infused in the hotel restaurant BLT Steak’s decadent desserts or incorporated in the Spa’s skin-perfecting treatments.
At Customshop, farm-fresh ingredients anchor the menu. The Elizabeth Avenue eatery creates dishes based on seasonal, sustainable and organic offerings from local growers. Be sure to order the weekly catch; it’s brought in fresh from local fisherman Rock Stone.
Camps at the Charlotte Nature Museum are the perfect way to ward off summer monotony while teaching kids to appreciate the planet. Camp offerings, like “Wild in the City,” which explores urban wildlife and the unique survival habits of animals and plants that call the city home, give kids a hands-on understanding of our ecosystem. Plus, little ones will get a kick out of having permission to play with dirt and bugs.