out the Earth's green spots
By Rhoda Amon
Published March 6th, 2005
Senior travelers have a stake in going green. We breathe
better where the air is fresh and smog-free. We eat better
in places where we can get organic natural foods.
And many of us enjoy the quiet pleasures: viewing botanic
gardens, walking on scenic trails, visiting farms and
farmers' markets. We all want to leave this kind of a
world for our children and grandchildren.
One way to accomplish this is to take along a Green Map.
The nonprofit Green Map System, started more than a decade
ago, has mapped 181 places throughout the United States
and Canada and around the world. Green Maps chart the
eco-cultural sites in nations and neighborhoods, where
to see cherry blossoms or mangrove forests, find biking
trails, vegetarian restaurants, nature museums and old-fashioned
B&Bs. Green Maps go "wherever nature and culture
connect with daily living," says system founder anddirector
Wendy Brawer of Manhattan, who created the first Green
Apple Map of New York City in 1991.
The map-makers are local environmentalists charting their
own territory, so the maps differ greatly in style and
format. Some are highly professional and easy to read;
others are handmade and may be more difficult to follow.
There is, however, a uniform system of icons in use from
New Zealand to Brooklyn.
If you're heading for Southern California but worried
about smog, for example, there's a Green Map of Santa
Monica that shows where you can find the tall trees planted
to fight pollution and global warming. Other icons guide
you to state parks, nature trails, vegetarian restaurants
and natural-food shops.
Many of the maps are interactive and include the names
of the designers and their e-mail addresses so you can
write them with questions.
Heading north? One of the more comprehensive Green Maps
is called the OTHER map of Toronto (see www.greentourism.ca),
which shows the green things to see in the central area
and the waterfront, beaches, islands and surrounding villages.
One of my favorite historic sites is Toronto's First Post
Office, where the computer-weary traveler can try to remember
how to write an old-fashioned letter with a quill pen
Also listed are Toronto's environmentally friendly hotels
that provide chemical-free laundry and restaurants serving
organic and vegetarian food. There are eco-lodges such
as the Algonquin Log Cabin on a lake in Algonquin Park
that promotes canoe, hiking and dogsled trips with comfortable
beds at the end of the day.
The Niagara Watershed Green Map invites visitors to go
beyond the falls and explore the whole region between
the Great Lakes Ontario and Erie, including the farms,
22 wineries and great theater in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Very different from the OTHER Toronto but just as useful
is a handmade map of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which pinpoints
parks, nature trails and healthful eateries.
For those who may be going farther afield this year,
Japan beckons to Expo 2005, which opens March 25 and continues
through Sept. 25 in Aichi Prefecture. The Japanese love
world's fairs, and so do we, especially the dwindling
number of us whose memories go back to the 1939 New York
World's Fair, where we went as schoolchildren to ride
the General Motors Futurama through the "cities of
tomorrow" and where we saw for the first time something
The Japanese theme this year is "Nature's Wisdom,"
and its lofty aim is "to pursue a sustainable and
harmonious coexistence for all life on Earth."
The Green Map system will have a pavilion at the fair,
and local residents are drawing up 30 maps of the central
Japan area where the fair will be held, Brawer says. For
a virtual fair experience, visit the Web site www.expo2005.com.
For seniors staying closer to home this year, an updated
Green Apple Map of New York City is available. There's
also one of Brawer's own favorites, the "Lo-Map"
of the pleasures and pastimes of lower Manhattan, drawn
up from site nominations by New York City schoolchildren.
"Grandparents can use the Lo-Map for touring the
city and having fun with their grandchildren," says
For a free Lo-Map, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope
to Green Maps at P.O. Box 249, New York, NY 10002. For
printed copies of other maps, visit the Web site www.greenmap.org
and click on the Online Store, or call the Green Map System
RHODA AMON gladly accepts letters from fellow senior
travelers. Write to her at Newsday/Travel, 235 Pinelawn
Rd., Melville, NY 11747-4240,
or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.