It’s Easy Being Green on Your San Francisco Vacation

The city teems with eco-friendly hotels, restaurants, spas and shops. Find out where right here.


The City by the Bay—a veritable cauldron of arts and culture, world-class shopping, eclectic entertainment and outdoor adventure—continues to be a getaway mecca for travelers. It’s also one of the greenest cities in the United States. From cuisine featuring locally grown produce and all-natural spas, to Zen retreats and hybrid car rental packages, San Francisco is cruising in eco-overdrive.

Consider turning your San Francisco trip into an eco-vacation. Here are a few ideas to get your green gears spinning. 


The Fairmont

The Fairmont hotel chain was one of the first to implement environmental stewardship into its company model—back in 1990. The Fairmont San Francisco’s “Eco is the New Chic” package includes a one-night stay in the hotel’s Lexus Hybrid Living Suite, a luxury accommodation designed specifically for eco-conscious guests, which includes organic towels and sheets, sustainable building materials like bamboo and natural lighting. Wraparound windows provide phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Alcatraz. Guests also get to use a 2008 Lexus hybrid sedan during their stay—with free hybrid parking—a bottle of organic wine and the Green Guide to San Francisco, where you can get eco-itineraries to continue your green wanderings.
Package starts at $869 per night, plus tax; rates are good through 2008. 950 Mason St., tel. 415-772-5147,

The Orchard Hotels

The Orchard Garden Hotel and the Orchard Hotel in San Francisco are boutique accommodations with a long green streak. The Orchard Garden Hotel claims to be the “first true ‘green’ hotel in California,” where luxury meets natural design, conservationist mentality and organic cuisine. Orchard Garden’s “Eco Getaway Package” includes deluxe green accommodations, free Wi-Fi, breakfast buffet, a Greenopia Guide to the city and optional airport transfers in a Toyota Prius. The package also includes a discounted Mr. Toad’s “Postcard San Francisco” sightseeing tour package—featuring eco-friendly touring cars—and discounted bicycle rentals. Rates range from $169 to $369 per night, based on availability. 466 Bush St., tel. 888-717-2881,

Second in the chain, the Orchard Hotel offers the “San Francisco Eco-Getaway Tour Package," with similar green options including discounted Mr. Toad tours, and a 3-hour Gourmet Chocolate walking tour through the best local chocolatiers in San Francisco. Rates range from $149 to $329 per night, based on availability. 665 Bush St., tel. 888-717-2881,

Hotel Triton

Hotel Triton, a pet-friendly boutique hotel near Union Square, offers an “Easy Being Green Package”—a deal to makes others green with envy. The package features a Deluxe Eco-Premier King room full of eco-amenities such as recycling bins, organic bath products, and in-room spa services featuring all-natural skincare treatments. Guests also receive two one-day MUNI passes per night, $10 off for hybrid car parking and a sports bottle with energy bars.
Package rates start at $239 and are valid through December 2008. 342 Grant Ave., tel. 800-800-1299,

All-Natural Spas

Epi Center Med Spa was recognized as San Francisco’s greenest spa in 2008 by local city living and entertainment 7x7 Magazine, and offers organic cosmetic treatments, eco-facials and skin rejuvenation treatments. The spa center was also constructed and designed with sustainable materials, eco-friendly paint, energy-efficient light fixtures and low-flow plumbing to conserve water—garnering the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for an existing building. Choose organic facials such as Smells Like Roses (50 minutes for $150), Yogurt Power Peel (35 minutes for $125) and Fruit Pulp and Spicy (50 minutes for $140), a Hungarian mask that uses 100 percent organic fruit.
450 Sutter Street, Suite 800, tel. 415-362-4754,

Zen Retreat

If you’re looking for a little piece of mind while on vacation, consider spending the night at the San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm, located in Marin County, just outside of the city. Come study Zen meditation, work in the organic garden and even spend the night in one of the guesthouses or cottages. If you stay as a Guest Practice Retreatant, (three-night minimum) you can participate in the early morning meditations and community work, and have the rest of the day and evening to yourself. Rates start at $55 per night, Sunday through Thursday.

Other overnight options include stays at the Lindisfarne Guest House, a 12-room two-story octagonal building with a 30-foot atrium, and the four-room Wheelwright House. Rates start at $145 per night for a small double room, $160 on weekends. (Children ages 6 to 12 cost $25; each extra adult costs $50.)

Guests can also stay at the exquisite hilltop retreat, Hope Cottage, which has views of the Pacific Ocean, Green Gulch Valley and Mt. Tamalpais; the only catch—you have to walk 25 minutes uphill from Green Gulch to get there.
Rates start at $200 per night, double occupancy, with a two-night minimum; $60 for each extra guest. Tel. 415-383-3134,

Green Cuisine

Plenty of restaurants in the Bay Area have earned green status and can boast that all or most of their ingredients come from local farmers, they’re sustainable and they serve only are in-season products. Here are a few favorites:


A vegetarian restaurant located at historic Fort Mason, Greens opened in 1979 under the direction of the aforementioned San Francisco Zen Center—the Center’s carpenters built Greens out of recycled and reclaimed wood, and the restaurant’s original employees were Zen students. The Green Gulch Farm still provides Greens much of its fresh, organic produce to this day. Greens dishes feature seasonal ingredients, so the menu is updated regularly. Choose lunch entrées such as the Vietnamese Tofu Sandwich or Spinach Fettuccine ($8 to $14), or dinner entrees like Filo Pastry, with artichoke, crimini mushrooms, leeks and pecorino cheese ($16 to $23). For dessert, try the Chocolate Truffle Tart or Basmati Rice Pudding with pistachio baklava.
Located at Building A, Fort Mason Center, tel. 415-771-6222,

Café Gratitude

Practice some self-affirmations at Café Gratitude, a feel-good vegetarian and vegan restaurant that hopes to nourish your belly and soul. The menu consists of fresh sustainable products from local farmers, with empowering entrée names like “I am Accepting” (Sushi Bowl; $12.50), “I am Sensational” (pesto pizza; $12.50) and “I am Elated” (special enchilada of the day; $15). Also choose from coffees, teas, cocktails and beer—all organic—and “Live Desserts,” containing raw nuts, seeds and cacao.
Two San Francisco locations: 2400 Harrison St., and 1336 9th Ave., tel. 415-824-4125.

Destinations: San Francisco

Themes: Ecotourism

Activities: Eat, Sightseeing, Sleep

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