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Chicago City Tour - Green Travel - organic ingredients, sustainable hotels and urban initiatives

Chicago city tours for the green traveller are readily available whether you want to take part in an organised ramble around the Windy City, go it alone and find your own way or take part in prepared tours that take you around the various interesting sites that the city has to offer.

Chicago has really got to grips with environmental issues in recent years and has appointed a Chief Environmental Officer and installed a green roof on the top of City Hall. Further measures include a new convention centre, which has been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Chicago city tours

You can choose to use the bus and train connections in Chicago if you fancy exploring the city on your own. However, there are also numerous tours that you can take with a guide including the Lincoln Park Chicago city tour which allows visitors to truly escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to nature.

Meet the animals at the Park's zoo or just lose yourself in the serenity of the Lilly Pond; this Chicago city tour takes around 4-5 hours and has a wealth of plant and animal life for you to enjoy.

Alternatively, find your way around on Chicago's trains and buses; this can be done on an ad-hoc basis or you can really get stuck in and plan every aspect of your Chicago city tour from the comfort of your armchair using travel planners available on the Chicago Transport website.

For an even greener option why not cycle around the city? Chicago has recently installed bike racks and sheltered parking at all of the transit stations throughout the city and has around 117 miles of on-street bike lanes. For more information on biking your way around your Chicago city tour, visit the Chicago Bicycle Program website.

Of course, any Chicago city tour wouldn't be complete without taking a ride on the open-top Chicago hop-on-hop-off bus. This allows you to get off the bus at any of the scheduled stops and pick it up again when you've finished exploring the area on foot. Or you can simply stay on the bus and relax, taking in the sights of the city from the fresh, open upstairs seated area.

Green hotels in Chicago

We're happy to report that you have plenty of options for staying at environmentally friendly hotels in Chicago as the city has recently introduced a city-wide Green Hotels Initiative.

The Hotel Allegro is in the heart of the business and theatre districts, a perfect base for your Chicago city tour and evening entertainment both. It has been given the Green Seal, a certification program that rewards participating hotels for the work they have carried out to minimise the impact on environment.

The Allerton is also one of the hotels leading the way in sustainability in Chicago and has introduced a recycling program, environmentally friendly cleaning products, water conservation measure and more. However, this is not to say that the facilities are minimalistic, as there is plenty for those who really enjoy their home comforts to revel in.

If you have a limited budget, then the Hilton Garden Inn situated in Chicago's downtown on the Magnificent Mile is a great choice. This hotel has made an 'Earth Pact' and is committed to reducing the hotel's carbon footprint by recycling, using earth-friendly cleaning products and is lit completely with energy-saving bulbs.

Shopping and organic food in Chicago

For the green traveller, a trip to Chicago's Green City Market is an absolute must. Here you will be able to find a very wide range of sustainably grown, local, high quality foods from even the smallest of local farmers. Local chefs have also focussed on producing food from fresh, locally produce foods now for a number of years, prompting something of a trend for it in the city.

If you would prefer organic to come to you, why not give Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks a try? They deliver a range of fresh, locally produced organic produce directly to your door and have specials on each week to reflect the season and provide certain health benefits such as clearer skin.

For more high quality organic produce you can visit the Wholefoods Market too; markets are also a great way of finding your way around the city and mixing with the local people. This means that you can really get stuck in and immerse yourself completely in the local culture and see first-hand how people live in the Windy City.

If you prefer to eat out then Chicago has plenty of organic restaurants that serve excellent food such as Uncommon Ground which was recently voted the greenest restaurant in America by Michael Oshman of the Green Restaurant Association.

A trip to the USA is often considered to be less than environmentally friendly as the States are perceived to be unconcerned about sustainability. However, this is a complete myth as many of the US cities now have an awful lot to offer for those looking to reduce their travelling carbon footprint.

Certainly a trip to Chicago won't do anything to harm this and actually has a lot to offer the ecotourist. Not only is there a plethora of green hotels to suit every budget, but there is a host of organic food options, including some great restaurants and various options for getting around on your Chicago city tours.

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