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Five great, relatively-green winter getaways

Here’s our eco-rated list of great places for close, but not too close, holiday travel from Vancouver, B.C.

Photo of Chateau Lake Louise by Patrick Imbeau via Flickr
Photo of Chateau Lake Louise by Patrick Imbeau via Flickr

We got you covered this holiday season and into the new year. Upgrade your ‘staycation’ to a VO eco-rated 'nearcation' with these adventurous trips. Travel smart, and don’t forget your passport!

1) Portland

Green Vancouverites, meet your match. One of America’s greenest cities is also one of the farthest destinations on our list, but Portland’s cool vibe will make the kilometres you covered from Vancouver worth it. It’s always acceptable to ride your fixed-gear bike to Portland if you've got an extra month, but otherwise, bus or take the train to that city that doesn't like umbrellas for a low-carbon impact journey.

Welcome to the land of craft beers and food trucks. The city also has a reputation for well-maintained parks, a unique nightlife, distinguished nature and amazing artisan coffee; Portland even has its own fun-loving TV show Portlandia. Just going for a brisk stroll in the city will get your creative, artsy juices pumping.

Photo by sfgamchick via Flickr

How to get there:

The amazing Canada-US connecting Amtrak is by far the best way to travel down to Portland. It’s scenic, it’s affordable and it’s fairly fast. BoltBus travels from Vancouver to Portland as well, along with other select cities along the west coast, just book your seat early to get the best deals. If you do feel like you must drive, follow I-5 S to North Broadway in Portland, and you should get there in six hours. If you want a more scenic drive, check out this route.

Approximate distance from Vancouver: 507.2 km

What to do:

Big city equals a massive list of things to do. We’ve narrowed it down to a few, but don’t be afraid to aimlessly wander the streets and discover your own new favourite spot.

You can’t go to Portland and not try twenty different coffees. We recommend 'Heart Coffee Roasters' on Burnside Street and 'Stumptown Coffee Roasters.' Fun fact: the people at Stumptown are credited by many for starting the whole artisan coffee wave. Some call them ‘America’s hippest coffee brand’. Don’t forget to stop by at 'Voodoo Doughnut,' hop over to a pod of Food Trucks or 'Clyde Common (farm-driven Northwest cuisine)' for lunch. Did I mention that the stores in Portland are tax-free? Excuse me while I rip up my return ticket to Vancouver and hide out in 'Powell’s City of Books.'

You can also take a walking tour of Portland's bridges, but a better way to experience them is by bicycle, just like the locals do. Try the 38 km bike route from Waterfront Bike Path to Springwater Corridor Path, with many parks and trails along the way.  If you’d rather do a bike tour, companies like Pedal Bike Tours and Portland Bicycle Tours would be a great choice.

It’s easy to get distracted by all the hot tourist spots in Portland, but there are a lot of awesome winter activities to do too. Ninety minutes from Downtown Portland, you’ll find amazing winter wonderland Mount Hood to satisfy your skiing, snowboarding fixes. Some resorts include Mount Hood Meadows, Mt. Hood Skibowl and Timberline. Ski Bowl has the largest night ski area in the country while national historic landmark Timberline is as popular for its unwinding lodges as it is for its ski runs.

Photo at Mount Hood Timberline Resort by Dileep Eduri via Flickr

Where to stay:

It’s not too hard to find a sustainable hotel in green central, but why not stay at the original one? The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel was the first sustainable hotel in Portland. In addition to numerous sustainable practices, the DoubleTree, diverts 68% of its overall waste stream from landfills, and seeks first to purchase equipment, products and materials that are recyclable, made of recycled content and reduce waste. The hotel won various awards for its eco efforts including the "Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative" Transportation Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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