With the Columbus Day long-weekend almost here and the Thanksgiving and Holiday season approaching shortly thereafter, many Americans will be itching to get out of town for a long weekend getaway.
Today, more and more travelers are expressing an interest in ecotourism, focusing their weekend getaway search on visiting green cities, staying in eco-hotels, and supporting destinations with improved environmental practices.
The destinations listed below have been ranked as some of the greenest cities in the nation with plenty of options for the eco-conscious traveler.
Weekend Getaway #1: Portland, OR
Oregon’s largest city ranks number one on the list when it comes to the greenest and most sustainable city in the United States. This may be for a number of reasons, including that Portland uses 20% more renewable energy than the national average and was one of the first cities to ban plastic bags.
Portland first began paving the way for environmental sustainability back in 1971 when Oregon was the first state to implement refundable deposits on cans and bottles. Now, in 2017, residents of Portland recycle over 60% of their waste – one of the highest rates in the nation.
Portland implements extensive green urban planning. It uses timed traffic signals to cut back on gas consumption and CO2 emissions and is also one of the most bike-friendly communities in America. The city offers bikers over 300 miles of bike lanes and provides bike racks on public transit for commuters to use.
Where To Stay in Portland
Portland is a city with one of the highest number of eco-friendly accommodations, giving you a plethora of options when it comes to choosing a place that meets your needs. Check out the following hotels that are unique and also sustainable in their own ways:
- The Ace Hotel: This hotel specializes in recycling and repurposing. The furniture is designed from sustainably-harvested wood and the mattresses are made from organic materials. This trendy hotel also uses natural products to clean the rooms and uses non-toxic paint in the construction of its guest rooms.
- Doubletree by Hilton Portland: This hotel has received high ratings from both I Stay Green and Rez Hub as one of the greenest hotels in Portland. This eco-hotel specializes in water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainable housekeeping. The Doubletree also gives guests the chance to use a carbon calculator to learn how to best offset their carbon footprint from any carbon generated on their trip.
Where To Eat in Portland
- Tasty and Sons: This neighborhood restaurant serves inventive American dishes in a welcoming and industrial dining space. This farm-to-table restaurant changes its menu frequently for seasonal variations based on the availability of local produce.
- Le Pigeon: Often referred to as the best restaurant in Portland, Le Pigeon is a fine dining establishment in a relaxed atmosphere best known for serving creative French fare. Le Pigeon also takes pride in using quality ingredients from local sources.
What To Do in Portland
- Bike Tour: Explore one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities on two wheels by signing up for a bike tour. Rent a bicycle or bring your own to explore the city’s various attractions, breweries, wineries and more. With regular city tours along with tours that are beer or food themed, there’s something for everyone.
- Portland’s Parks: Portland is home to some pretty incredible green spaces that are worth exploring during your visit. The Portland International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, and Forest Park are just a few worth checking out. Nature lovers will find themselves in paradise with some gorgeous trails for the perfect sunrise hike, along with numerous hikes that are fun for the whole family. The Portland area also offers accessible trails so that people of all abilities can enjoy the scenery of the region.
Weekend Getaway #2: Lake Placid, NY
There’s more to New York state than just Manhattan and the other four boroughs. New York offers a world of eco-friendly adventures; many found in the beautiful areas of Adirondack Park, the Catskill mountains, and the Hudson Valley.
Lake Placid, NY is one of my favorite places in the world for a number of reasons (getting engaged on the summit of New York’s highest peak tops my list). The fact that the town is striving to reduce its carbon footprint is an amazing reason to visit the area on your next long weekend getaway.
Three of the highest rated eco-sustainable properties in the United States can be found in the Adirondacks. Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn, Lake Clear Lodge and Retreat, and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort are 3 of only 6 resorts in America to have received platinum certification in the Audubon International’s Eco-Rating Program. The prestigious program works with hotels and resorts to ensure they are following environmentally-friendly best practices while running their establishment.
Where To Stay in Lake Placid
- Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is located in downtown Lake Placid. This hotel strives to achieve a balance between luxury and sustainability. Golden Arrow enhances the guest experience with resort programs, towel programs, recycling and other green programs that are environmentally friendly.
Where To Eat in Lake Placid
- Golden Arrow’s on-site restaurant, Generations, supports the resort’s philosophy of sustainability; featuring a menu of foods that are sourced and grown locally. During the warmer months, the restaurant’s outdoor green roof deck . In addition to providing herbs for the restaurant, it also provides a beautiful ecological backdrop offering stunning views of the high peaks and Mirror Lake.
What To Do in Lake Placid
- Adirondack Park: As the perfect getaway for you to connect with nature, Adirondack Park is a mix of a state park and forest preserve, and home to over 6.5 million acres of land. With over 3,000 lakes and ponds and home to the Adirondack High Peaks, there are outdoor activities for both those who love adventure and those looking for more laid back activities.
- The Wild Center: Visit this natural history center in Tupper Lake, close to the center of Adirondack Park. The organization’s mission is that people and the natural world can coexist together. The Wild Center’s sustainable building project, youth climate program and “Build a Greener Adirondack” Expo are just a few ways that it is reducing its carbon footprint.
Weekend Getaway #3: San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is a beautiful place that is not only California’s most sustainable city but also one of the top sustainable cities in America. The Golden City has a number of practices in place with a focus on waste reduction, water conservation, sustainable food, transportation and infrastructure, and proximity to the great outdoors.
Where To Stay in San Francisco
- The Orchard Hotel and The Orchard Garden Hotel: The Orchard Hotel was recently voted one of the top 7 most eco-friendly hotels in the country. Along with its sister property, both hotels are committed to creating healthy and sustainable practices for their guests in all aspects of hospitality ranging from daily operations, food and beverages and construction practices. The company is 100% smoke-free and shows its dedication to the environment by using local and organic ingredients, being energy star rated and by exclusively using halogen, compact fluorescent or LED lighting.
- The Inn at Presidio: This 22-room boutique green hotel has earned the San Francisco Green Business Recognition. Located in the heart of Presidio, the Inn boasts stunning views of San Francisco Bay. The Inn shows its commitment to a healthy environment by offering paperless check-in, sourcing and purchasing locally as often as possible and by following San Francisco’s green cleaning product list.
Where To Eat in San Francisco
- State Bird Provisions: Located in the Fillmore District, State Bird Provisions is an urban rustic eatery with a seasonal menu of local ingredients. The Japanese influenced cuisine is served dim-sum style and advanced reservations are available up to 60 days in advance.
- Zuni Cafe: The menu at Zuni Cafe changes daily and is inspired by traditional French and Italian cuisine. Almost all of the produce, meat and fish served at Zuni are harvested or farmed in a sustainable way.
What To Do in San Francisco
- Golden Gate Park: Golden Gate Park is home to museums and gardens and is a beautiful green space in the heart of San Francisco. Explore the botanical gardens, take a stroll through the Japanese Tea Gardens or visit the California Academy of Sciences which is both the park’s main attraction and the largest building in the world to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green certified.
- Bay Area Green Tours: Explore the city by signing up for an experience through Bay Area Green Tours. This 501 C 3 certified organization provides educational tours and programs that demonstrate sustainability in action! San Francisco based tours include Urban Farm Experiences, Cityscapes: Green Building Tour of San Francisco, and Trash to Treasure: Zero Waste Tour.
Weekend Getaway #4: Chicago, IL
When you think of sustainable cities, Chicago may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, the Windy City has been on the green scene for nearly the last two decades and has become a national leader in environmental consciousness. Chicago focuses on urban green initiatives, starting with a green roof installed on the top of City Hall.
Where To Stay in Chicago
The Green Hotels Initiative has encouraged hotels to become more eco-friendly by reducing energy, minimizing waste and conserving water. The following hotels are just a few that rank the highest:
- The Fairmont Chicago: This Green Seal Rated hotel has made an effort to improve its sustainability over the years. The hotel has implemented a property-wide recycling program by placing dual-sided waste baskets in each guest room, allowing guests to separate glass bottles and metal cans for recycling. The hotel gave its sustainability program a facelift through a more modern and eco-friendly minibar. The minibar offers organic goods from local companies and has even made an effort to reduce unnecessary packaging on products. The Fairmont Chicago also gives back to charities by donating soon-to-expire products to local homeless shelters.
- Talbott Hotel: This luxury boutique hotel was one of the first hotels in the country to be Green Seal certified. The hotel’s platform of “Sustainability Without Compromise” insists that green initiatives enhance the high standards of the hotel. The hotel maintains recycling programs, uses recyclable consumer paper products, and uses non-phosphate and biodegradable supplies. Technical components of the program include installing energy efficient equipment and lighting, and water conserving fixtures. Guests also have the option to have bed and bath linens replaced every other day. Guests can also choose to adjust the room temperature by eight degrees while they are out of the room.
Where To Eat in Chicago
- North Pond: This modern restaurant is located in the charming neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Chef Bruce Sherman uses local and organic ingredients to create a flavorful menu of new American fare.
- Blackbird: Located in the restaurant district, this trendy Green-certified restaurant is known for creative midwestern fare sourced from local farms. Blackbird offers a reasonable fixed-price lunch menu so it’s a great spot for foodies who are looking to reduce both their carbon footprint and their spending.
What To Do in Chicago
- Green City Market: This nonprofit organization is Chicago’s largest and the first year-round sustainable farmer’s market. Green City Market is the perfect attraction for the foodie-obsessed traveler with over 60 vendors. The Market also provides free resources and programs to educate the public about local sustainable issues.
- Millenium Park: Plan a visit to Chi-town’s premier green space and second largest tourist attraction, Millenium Park. This 25-acre urban sanctuary is a public park located in the loop area of Chicago and is one of the largest green roofs in the world. This former parking lot and rail yard transforms into an urban playground complete with gardens, sculptures and performance space.