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Sustainable California

Mar. 15, 2019

Travelers who think it’s not easy being green haven’t been to California. The Golden State continues to innovate in the sustainability space, from mitigating environmental impacts and promoting cultural preservation to educating visitors about responsible travel. Below are just a few ways to sleep, eat, drink and play sustainably on your next California road trip.

Sleep Sustainably

The LEED Gold Lodge at the Presidio, repurposed from historic 19th century military buildings, uses many sustainable practices, including green housekeeping, recycling and composting.

Two Sonoma County Green Certified inns offer the chance to experience the region as it was over 100 years ago. The Sonoma Orchid Inn, a restored 1906 farmhouse, uses solar power and sources ingredients from its chickens and organic garden. The Case Ranch Inn, set in an 1894 Victorian farmhouse, boasts a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat, generates 40 percent of its power via solar and offers an electric vehicle charging station.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach just joined the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of boutique hotels that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. The Ranch owns a GLS and glass bottle crusher that reduces glass to a sand-like product. Meanwhile, the change to sustainable bamboo key cards keeps 25,000 plastic keys from reaching landfills.

The LEED Gold Shore Hotel has saved 31 million watts of energy, 5.2 million gallons of water and 28,000 plastic water bottles from entering landfills. The hotel, which just launched a new scholarship for environmental students, also uses JUST Water, made from biodegradable paper with a corn product exterior and lined with aluminum.

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel just added 10 beehives on their roof, using the honey for craft cocktails and menu items. The hotel boasts an 80 percent landfill diversion rate and their “Stay Green” program offers guests who choose a sustainable housekeeping option a dining credit.

Drink Sustainably

California boasts the world’s largest sustainable winegrowing program in terms of case production and winegrowing acreage. To celebrate California’s global leadership in sustainability, “green” wineries host events for Down to Earth Month in April. To make it easier to find sustainable wine, many of these wineries now boast a California CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE bottle logo.

Many Golden State wine regions feature renowned sustainability programs, such as Napa Green, which visitors can experience on a self-guided tour at Similarly, the Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures program helps travelers learn about sustainable wine on free self-guided walking tours.

Safety and sustainability go hand-in-hand in California. Santa Barbara Sustainable Vine Wine Tours use all-Teslas, and the towns of Carmel, Livermore, Napa and Sonoma all offer wine trolleys.

Eat Sustainably

Treasure Island’s Mersea restaurant features an innovative design reusing 13 local industrial shipping containers, an herb garden made of recycled pallets and tables built from old bowling alley lanes. They provide jobs for low-income people and support 4Ocean, which cleans the ocean through the sales by selling bracelets made from recycled materials.

The green-certified Half Moon Bay Brewing Company brews beer from recycled water and uses sustainable seafood and locally-sourced produce, low energy and water usage processes. They source recycled, compostable paper products, and donate cooking oil for gardener diesel trucks and spent beer grains for pig farmer feed. Siskiyou features several farm-to-fork restaurants, including Five Marys Camp, a women’s glamping retreat where guests can sustainably farm and dine. Scott River Ranch serves certified organic beef and constantly improves its riparian corridor by planting native trees and shrubs.

Tocaya Organica in San Diego uses sustainable practices, from sourcing organic ingredients, printing on recycled paper and utilizing eco-friendly to-go products, to using reclaimed wood and LED lighting and hosting quarterly street and beach cleanups. Its charity–TocayaLife–hosts initiatives that positively impact local communities and the environment.

Nick’s Cove and Cottages supports local fishermen, farmers and winemakers who practice sustainable agriculture, from the oysters harvested right outside the restaurant to the onsite farm and garden where the chef sources eggs, honey, produce and herbs.

Play Sustainably

The LEED Platinum certified Exploratorium features the Fisher Bay Observatory and Living Systems galleries where guests can investigate the history, geography, and ecosystems of the Bay Area.

Santa Monica boasts a variety of eco-friendly attractions, including the Pacific Wheel, the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which inspires conservation of coastal waters and marine life through education.

North Lake Tahoe’s hospitality industry aims to “Keep Tahoe Blue” for generations to enjoy, with Northstar California aiming for a zero-operating footprint by 2030, and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows targeting 100 percent renewable energy this year. Boulder Bay resort will be completely sustainable upon completion.

Mono County Chamber of Commerce organizes volunteer events for mindful travelers who care for the land they’re visiting, while learning expert tips on new trails, climbing crags, fishing holes and other natural points of interest to come back and enjoy.

The Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau recently created the new stewardship campaign, Tuolumne County is Too Cool to Trash, to help keep Tuolumne County and public lands clean and beautiful for locals and visitors to enjoy. To further enforce the love of public lands the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau has dedicated a page in their 2019 Visitors Guide to “Love it Like a Local.”

Learn what the world’s top scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are researching during a free, one-hour, outdoor walking tour, which includes a working research pier that is usually closed to the public. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps will launch a permanent seadragon conservation exhibition by Memorial Day 2019.

The above are just a handful of ways that the Golden State encourages sustainable travel; for more information, check out