Earth Month is for the birds – and the butterflies, loggerheads, whales and wolves for that matter. Travelers this April can get in touch with their wild side with animal experiences for all ages, from falconry to aquatic adventures. Here are a few ideas for an Earth Month vacation:
- Red Deer and Falconry in the United Kingdom. In a pair of eight-day tour itineraries sure to enchant children and adults alike, CIE Tours International blends wildlife adventures with the magic of Harry Potter. The English Knights and Wizards tour combines an exclusive falconry experience with castles, steam trains, Stonehenge, Warner Bros’ the Making of Harry Potter, and more. New for 2018, the private falconry demonstration takes place behind Chester Cathedral in a meadow sanctuary. Visitors learn about the animals’ habits and wellbeing as they hold and fly birds of prey. Rates begin at $2,690 per person.The Scottish Lochs and Castles tour stops at Highland Safaris for an interactive experience with Britain’s largest native land mammal, the Red Deer, including a chance to pet and feed the animals and join a ranger on a forest hike. Guests also enjoy speed-boating along River Clyde, riding the Jacobite Steam Train of Harry Potter fame, a visit to Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth Natural History Museum, sheepdog demonstration, and more. Rates begin at $2,490 per person.
- Animal Experiences in the Adirondacks. Tucked into woodlands above Lake Placid, Whiteface Lodge provides its guests with complimentary activities showcasing its outdoor adventure setting. Among them are presentations by The ADK Wildlife Refuge and Adirondack Raptors, two local organizations that regularly bring local wildlife – from great-horned owls, barn owls and hawks to opossums, porcupines, foxes, skunks and snakes – to the resort for guests to learn about and touch. In the summer, the highlight is a visit by Kiska, ADK Wildlife Refuge’s Great Plains Wolf. (New this summer will be a special Yoga with Wolves experience.)
Guests can also explore woodland trails starting at or near the resort, either on their own or by booking a guided hike through a specialty concierge known as an ADK Guide. Hikers often encounter rabbits, deer and raccoons and it’s not uncommon to spot an osprey or great blue heron as the on-site fishing pond thaws in April. The Stay More, Play More package includes a nightly resort credit that can be applied towards kids’ programs, golf, boating, and other experiences. More information can be found online or by calling 888-582-0505.
- A Scottsdale Sanctuary for Monarchs and Hummingbirds. Thoughtful landscaping at Arizona’s ecologically progressive Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa has drawn enough monarch butterflies to be a certified butterfly habitat, and its love for lepidoptera is echoed in the monarch butterfly motif in the guestroom area rugs. Befitting its name, the resort is also a hummingbird sanctuary, home to as many as 400 species. Sanctuary protects its desert environment with drought-tolerant plants, organic cleaning products and services, low-flow toilets, and a staff incentive program encouraging positive environmental practices.
- Creatures of the California Coast. Pebble Beach Resorts’ location along Central California’s rugged and breathtakingly beautiful coastline provides golfers and resort guests with endless opportunities to observe a rich array of wildlife. Bird watchers can expect to see anything from terns and pelicans to great egrets and great blue herons, along with shore birds and other species. In the water, sea otters, seals and sea lions can be spotted throughout the year and, best of all, many species of whale make their way past the resorts and golf courses in their annual migrations, including humpbacks, gray and blue whales, orcas and minkes.
- Close Encounters of the Aquatic Kind in Monterey. Just two blocks from the spectacular Monterey coast, Embassy Suites by Hilton Monterey Bay Seaside has parlayed a partnership with the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium into a value-filled package for guests. The two-night Monterey Bay Aquarium package includes two, two-day aquarium tickets; complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast; Evening Reception with drinks and snacks; local airport transportation; and access to the indoor pool, fitness center and spa. Tickets must be redeemed on consecutive days. Rates are based on availability and subject to change.
- Make a Splash in Cabarrus County. North Carolina’s attraction-filled Cabarrus County is home to SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, where visitors enjoy astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish to graceful rays and tropical sharks. The Interactive Touch Pool Exhibit invites youngsters to reach in and touch one of many amazing rockpool creatures including sea stars, urchins, and more. With a breathtaking underwater 180-degree ocean tunnel, more than 20 display tanks, and 5,000-plus sea creatures, the aquarium is an ideal family destination. Special activities during Earth Month include a Where’s Waldo themed Scavenger Hunt and egg-themed workshops on topics from how sea animals lay eggs to how they hatch.
- Take a Walk on the Wild Side on Martha’s Vineyard. While human visitors flock to the island every summer, Martha’ Vineyard’s protected wetlands, forests, meadows, and beaches extend year-round hospitality to a wide array of wildlife. April is a great month to observe the island’s ospreys return to their nesting sites. Guests of the historic Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, are well-situated for visits to Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, just a few miles away. Great Rock Bight Preserve, Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, Long Point Refuge and Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach, and Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, also offer many miles of trails and vantage points.
- For the Love of Loggerheads on Florida’s Gold Coast. With the world’s third largest barrier reef just offshore, the all-suite Palm Beach Marriot Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is an eco-adventure destination in itself. The resort is committed to protecting Florida’s turtle population with three initiatives that benefit the nearby Loggerhead Marine Life Center. They include plush turtles in-suite available for purchase (a percentage of sales go to the center); “For the Love of the Si Turtles” program at the resort’s SiSpa, donating 10 percent of sales from a 50-minute Signature Massage or Signature Facial; and a Little Loggerhead overnight package featuring a private tour of the Loggerhead Marine Life Center, participation in its Adopt a Sea Turtle program, and a percentage of proceeds donated to the center.