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Eco-vacations help families connect with nature during their time off

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Updated: 12/12/2012 12:06 pm

For American families, taking a break from work and school to get in touch with nature is nothing new. Getting away from the grind of city life is necessary from time to time and the restorative power of the natural world allows us to come home relaxed and refreshed. For some that means heading to a rustic cabin in the woods or pitching a tent in the nearest state park, but others are finding that you can connect with nature without having to venture off the grid or give up modern comforts.

Eco resorts focus on providing guests with the opportunity to explore nature and relax in its tranquil surroundings, while also offering upscale and modern amenities once you return from your time in the great outdoors. In addition to offering access to natural beauty, eco resorts also offer visitors the chance to learn a little more about the natural world as well.

Terranea in Los Angeles is one example of a resort that doesn't scrimp on style of luxury, yet still offers eco-minded visitors plenty of opportunity to connect with nature without having to leave the property. Here are a few examples of what families interested in an eco-vacation can expect to find at the resort:

* Nature hikes on the property. The resort's Discovery Trail guides visitors along the natural areas surrounding the resort. Hikers can relax while taking in panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean on the trail's scenic overlooks. Interpretive areas teach visitors about the area's native plants and wildlife.

* Wildlife viewing. The resort's natural areas offer plenty of opportunity to see animals large and small. The preservation of the land's natural plant species provides refuge to the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly and visitors can see Pacific grey whales through telescopes at viewing points along the Discovery Trail. Guests also have the chance to sit in on educational falconry expos from local experts and learn about the important roles falcons, hawks and owls play in the local environment.

* Outdoor activities. One of the best ways for kids to develop an appreciation of nature is through fun outdoor activities. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, surfing and biking are just a few of the activities available to families staying at the resort.

* Sustainability. Visitors to eco-resorts should also know that the resort is doing all it can to lessen the impact of human activity on the environment. At Terranea, restaurants focus on offering local food options, buildings were designed with storm water management in mind and 15 acres of the grounds were restored to its native habitat. It's hard to place a value on spending some time away from your home in order to connect with nature. For some families that might mean traveling to remote parts of the country, but if you're simply looking to get away and experience the outdoors, but don't want to worry about preparing for a trip to the backcountry, an eco-resort might be the perfect place for your family getaway.

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