Have an Eco-Friendly Stay in Tennessee
Being sustainable every day isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle. But how can you continue being environmentally conscious as you travel? Tennessee has you covered with hotels and attractions committed to being earth-friendly and restaurants buying locally and using organic products. Tennessee’s landscape isn’t just green; its philosophy is as well. As that saying goes, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
Staying: Slip away from the hustling world and into a place hailed by National Geographic Traveler Magazine as “reflecting a destination of true character and out of the ordinary lodgings.” Richmont Inn in Townsend celebrates the culture of the mountain people through the architecture, décor and cozy pampering given to each guest. You can choose a chalet suite which features a shower with a rain head sprinkler and body sprays, a massaging spa tub and a fireplace. Snuggle down in your micro-fiber sheets as the fire slowly dies. The main building rooms are rich with antiques and artwork. “Country chic” comes to mind, especially in the Robert Mize room and the William Bartram room with its deep red fabric, hardwood floors and homey patterns. Rooms in the main building range from $160-$220 a night. Experience why National Geographic called it “Appalachia with Style.”
Doing: Pack a picnic lunch and spend your day surrounded by endless Great Smoky Mountain peaks. Learn about the culture and history of the people who call the mountains their home at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center. You’ll find historic buildings like the Wilder Chapel, a smokehouse, sawmill and granary. See 5,000 years of Native American life through hunting, pottery, food and medicine. Pioneer, mountain culture, a postal wagon, farm equipment and more are waiting for you to see. Want adventure? Head on over to Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend which was carved over tens of thousands of years in one of the earth’s oldest mountain chains. The 200-foot high Silver Falls, a double waterfall, is open on the lower section for visitors but you can take a peek at the lighted upper room where the upper falls is located.
Eating: If you don’t wish to pack a picnic lunch, dine at The Wild Plum Tea Room, named for the wild plum trees surrounding the log building. Sandwiches, house salads and yummy desserts like Brownie Delight, Amaretto Bread Pudding with its specialty wild plum tea is a delight not to be missed. Be sure to pop into the little gift shop that overlooks the dining area. The restaurant is open daily 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March to mid-December. Reservations are accepted after 10 a.m.
Staying: If you want to stay somewhere environmentally conscious while in Nashville, you’ll want to stay at the Hermitage Hotel. Besides the luxurious amenities the hotel offers, you have the option of donating $2 for every night of your stay to the Land Trust for Tennessee. Through this initiative, guests have raised over $157,000 for land conservation. Because of this program, the farm at Glen Leven, a 66-acre historic site, took shape. Originally donated to the Land Trust for Tennessee by the Thompson family, Glen Leven was bought by The Hermitage Hotel and made into a prosperous farm. The Trust allowed Capitol Grille, the restaurant inside The Hermitage Hotel, to grow tomatoes, potatoes, beans, squash and other vegetables which have been used in its culinary creations and the hotel’s room service. A small herd of cattle were purchased and beehives for honey are being planned along with expanding the vegetable area.
Doing: Get out into the surrounding area and tip your hat to the farmer by visiting the Tennessee Agricultural Museum which features artifacts from the pioneering days of Tennessee farm families like early farm equipment and household goods. See the agricultural development that happened in the state throughout the mid-twentieth century.
Eating: Chow down on delicious steaks, burgers and salads at Ted’s Montana Grill. They also have a gluten-free menu. The company is committed to being environmentally responsible. They use energy-efficient, low-voltage lighting to reduce energy consumption, reuse their cooking oil to reduce air pollution, carbon emissions and reliance on imported petroleum. The company recycles more than 370 tons of glass, plastic and aluminum each year and even uses paper straws as they aspire to be 99% plastic-free.
Staying: Memphis is the mecca of blues, soul and jazz music. Literally feel the electricity of the city by staying at the Peabody Hotel, which features four electric vehicle charging stations capable of charging the Nissan Leaf and the hybrid-electric Chevrolet Volt. There isn’t a fee for the charging stations and guests only pay for parking as they normally do while staying at the hotel. Tennessee is the only state east of the Mississippi to receive the electric vehicle charging stations. The historic hotel offers luxurious amenities including a spa and salon, pet friendly rooms and Segway tours of downtown Memphis.
Doing: Brush up on your musical history by making a stop on Union Avenue to see Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock and roll. Started in 1950 by Sam Phillips, a record producer, the studio became famous when a guy named Elvis Presley walked in and sang “That’s Alright, Mama” with a backup band with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. The rest is, as they say, history. Many other musical legends have walked in Sun Studio and recorded hit songs like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Charlie Rich.
Eating: Savor organic, locally grown produce in your meals when you dine at Felicia Suzanne’s downtown Memphis restaurant like goat and feta cheese from Bonnie Blue Farm, ham from Benton’s Country Hams and your dinner rolls from La Baguette French Bread & Pastry Shop. Try the trout almondine with caramelized sweet potatoes and almond brown butter or the pepper-crusted salmon on a bed of sweet corn etouffee. Finish off your decadent dinner with chocolate fried pies in Prichard Distillery’s rum sauce and salted caramel chocolate chip ice cream or the Peppermint Patty: old-fashioned baked fudge in chocolate sauce coupled with peppermint ice cream.