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The Good Life – Nature at its Best

“To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness.” – John Muir

The venerable naturalist of the high Sierras inspired millions by espousing the soul-nurturing benefits of nature. Such, too, is the goal for many a planned community: to gift its residents with places of nature and wilderness. We’ll look at several that are doing just that, starting in New England and moving south to Florida.

 

PLANNED COMMUNITIES PRESERVE NATURE

Eastman

Residents of the Eastman community near Dartmouth in New Hampshire have embraced nature and sustainable living for over 40 years. Roughly 12% of the land is set aside in conservation easements, home to sparkling streams, dense virgin forests, and low-impact recreational opportunities. Their golf course is even a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. And students can participate in the popular Youth Conservation Corps in the summer.

Bay Creek

As the Chesapeake Bay flows to the Atlantic, near the tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the Bay Creek community stuns with two miles of private beach. It also offers an engaging 350-acre Nature Preserve, stewarded by an in-house staff naturalist and discovery guide, Joe Fehrer, a veteran of The Nature Conservancy for decades.

Waterways

Five miles of lagoons and lakes swirl through the Waterways community in Richmond Hill, GA, just south of Savannah. A haven for water recreation, Waterways has also set aside the Hawk Island Nature Preserve as a pristine setting for birds and birdwatchers. The Ossabaw and Wassaw barrier islands provide thousands of acres of protected wetlands to discover, with the Atlantic just beyond.

Wildlight Community, Florida

Wildlight

Located just minutes west of Amelia Island and Georgia’s prized and protected chain of 15 barrier islands, Wildlight is a tidy, walkable, and bikeable planned community that has dedicated over half of its land to preserved wetlands and open space—just 15 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport.

The Isles of Collier Preserve

You can find classic coastal living informed by the charm and history of Old Naples, FL, at the nature-inspired The Isles of Collier Preserve. In addition to eight miles of on-property trails and waterways, the community is framed by 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forests in the Rookery Bay National Estuary, home to 150 species of birds and a magnet for eco-tourism. The Naples Botanical Garden is also just minutes away.

 

COLORADO

The old adage is that you come to Colorado for the winters but stay for the summers. There’s a lot of truth to that. And a lot to do!

June through mid-August, the high alpine meadows of Colorado bloom with a rainbow of wildflowers, flanked by scores of trails waiting for you to explore the beauty.

Piney Lake at Sunset near Vail Colorado

Colorado has four National Parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park with its towering peaks stretching to 14,000 feet. Or, wander in the Ancestral Pueblo dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, with its nearby International Dark Sky Park, for consummate star-gazing.

There are also ballooning festivals, cultural, and sporting events in Denver, white-water rafting and countless places to take a mountain, road or touring bicycle excursion. Or, maybe trek the red brick streets of Aspen in search of an outdoor café and maybe a celebrity or two.

In late summer, on the Western Slope of the Rockies, you’ll revel in the Colorado Mountain Winefest, named the best wine festival in the country by USA Today.

And, the concert season is already in full swing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, perhaps the most stunning music venue in the country. Just a few hours south, the U.S. Air Force Academy is open for tours of the impressive campus.

THE NATURAL STATE

Spring and summer getaways in Arkansas, the “Natural State,” hold the promise of glorious dogwood blossoms, national class sporting events, poignant historical landmarks, and cool July temperatures in the ancient and stunningly beautiful Ozark Mountains.

Maybe start your spring ventures in Hot Springs, home to the prestigious Arkansas Derby, hours spent lazing in the National Park’s healing waters, or touring the awesome lakefront Garvan Woodland Gardens. Cabot is not far away, just northeast of Little Rock, home to the 2023 Strawberry Festival, April 29-30.

In the middle of the state, Little Rock is the jumping-off point for a myriad of discoveries. Head east to the swirling Mississippi River Delta that defines the Arkansas border for biking, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, and hunting.

Come summer, head northwest to cooler temps in the mountains and search for hidden waterfalls, hike the Ozarks Highlands Trail, fly fish in pristine streams, mountain bike, or float down the Buffalo River, the first national river in the country.

If a mix of culture beckons, there is a compelling outdoor architecture exhibition hosted by the remarkable Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The museum has five miles of hiking trails dotted with world-class artwork and natural beauty.

 

Reposted from an article in Ideal-LIVING Magazine, 2023 Spring Issue – THE GOOD LIFE

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