What does a ‘green city’ mean? For travel lovers, it means safe bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly roads, great public transport, gorgeous green spaces to explore. For the locals, a city transforms itself through green technology, sustainable architecture, renewable energy, and policies that promise to cut waste, reduce water consumption, and through investment in public transportation. Plus, they make for great additions to your America travel list!
Here are the ten greenest cities in the US – not an exhaustive list by any means, but they do make for memorable travel.
Also, we all know we have to be well-prepared for any active travel. If you’re looking for some high quality gear to make your adventure complete, Globo Surf has some great guides and articles about outdoor gear that can be very helpful.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco earns its place for being at the forefront of green initiatives. SF is home to AT&T Park, the first major league baseball stadium that uses solar panels! The California Academy of Sciences, the world’s greenest museum, has a planetarium, natural history museum, wildflowers on the roof, a four-story living rainforest and coral reef ecosystem – making it a must-see when you travel to SF. The hiking trail, Twin Peaks, open up 360-degree views of the city and East Bay.
That is not all: over half of their bus and light rails are zero emission, sustainable food is prominent, and the solar panel usage average is higher than the entire country’s average! It’s also a great city for vegans. That’s why San Francisco is one of the coolest cities for your America travel list.
Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast, has almost 300 public parks with over 37,000 acres of green space, along with tons of farmers markets. It also features hundreds of miles of bike lanes, making it an appealing way to get around the city for travel lovers. Kayaking, sailing, white-water rafting, surfing, stand-up paddling boarding and lazy river floating is a brilliant way to soak in adventure when you travel to Portland. There are even SUP yoga classes, if you’re bendy enough!
Oregon was the first state to implement the policy of refundable deposits on bottles and cans, kicking off a recycling revolution. Portland now recycles about 63% of its waste and has one of the highest LEED-buildings per capita in America.
Travel to Honolulu involves stunning coast and endless opportunities for adventure. You can travel around on a bike easily by joining up the bike share program – look up Bikeshare Hawaii. Take the Waikiki Trolley, which takes you to several major Honolulu travel attractions. Hike to the top of Diamond Head State Monument for panoramic views of Waikiki and Honolulu.
This city has the highest rate of solar panels per capita in the United States. There are eco-friendly hotels and many restaurants are ocean-friendly certified which includes implementing policies like recycling, no styrofoam, no plastic bags given out, and using only reusable silverware. It would be easy to treat the water around Honolulu as a giant garbage dump, but the inhabitants are not letting this happen.
It’s probably that the capital features on your America travel list. See the sights on the Metro—composed of subway and bus lines— one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around. 42% of its people commuting to work daily can’t be wrong! When you’ve had your fill, hike or bike
Rock Creek Park for an escape in nature.
It also houses about 250,000 acres of parkland in the Greater Washington Metropolitan area. Plus you can choose an eco-friendly hotel when you travel – there are plenty here!
One fabulous way to explore the Capital and learn its stories, legends and secrets is to embark on a city bike tour. We recommend Fat Tire Tours for their knowledgeable tour guides who will entertain you with the most fascinating stories and anecdotes about the history of DC covering everything from past Presidents, Congress, memorial, parks, architecture, and political scandals. And it’s such a wonderful, eco-friendly way to explore the city.
Seattle has been an eco-friendly super city for a while and a treat as a travel destination. Foodies can head to Pike Place Market or Chinatown-International District. Walk around the city’s “first neighborhood,” Pioneer Square, famous for its Renaissance Revival architecture or stroll to Queen Anne Hill to the most well-known lookout, Kerry Park for a view of the skyline.
Seattle earns its green cred in various ways: a Climate Action Plan that dates back to 2013, the first electric utility that became carbon neutral and a public-private partnership was forged to restore and maintain Seattle’s forested parklands. Transportation is another area where Seattle shines. It is one of only five cities in which less than half of commuters drive to work alone, and they have a higher walking and biking rate than most of the country. They excel in garbage collecting too. Over half their waste is recycled or composted!
When you travel to Boston, you immerse yourself in its vibrant cultural scene, nightlife and fab museums. Boston also made it to one of our ‘top cities to explore on foot‘ list! You’ll love the The Freedom Trail that covers 16 locations, ranging from Massachusetts State House to Paul Revere’s home. You can also stroll along the Boston Harbor, take in local parks, and feast on great food!
As the Boston tourism website says, “We were eco-friendly long before it was cool.” 15% of Boston’s population walks to work, and the commuter rail encourages more people to use public transport. The transit line is the nation’s oldest, making Boston the birthplace of American mass transportation! Even the famous Boston Marathon is being more eco-friendly. They use less paper to communicate, and their pre-race dinner has new composting and recycling stations. A super travel destination that scores many green brownie points!
This city might come as a surprise, but Albuquerque is one of the top eco-friendly cities in America. Albuquerque green has the first solar-powered farmers’ market! The city itself is home to over 100 solar panel companies. It has over 100,000 homes being powered by solar energy, and this number is only growing.
Rich in culture and heritage, Albuquerque is a great destination for conscious travel lovers! With guaranteed sunshine, outdoor adventures are abundant including hiking, biking, skiing and even features a super volcano!
As a travel destination, Minneapolis is perfect for green adventures! Zipline over a canopy, enjoy 200 miles of bike trails in the “Healthiest City in America” or kayak on the river!
Minneapolis has green public transportation that runs on biodiesel fuel and has their own bike share project that was created in 2008. Their baseball stadium is the highest LEED-certified stadium in all professional sports. Travel to Minneapolis is full of suprises.
New York City, NY
With the massive Central Park in the middle of the city, you know NYC would make the list. With world class museums, an enviable food scene and the gorgeous High Line, you’re in for a fab time always.
There are around eight million people here, so you know how crowded the streets are. There is barely room for cars with the millions walking around every day! Between the walking, subways and buses take you everywhere, so New Yorkers rarely take vehicles alone. About 77% of people in New York do not even own a car! This is the biggest reason for their notable eco-friendly ways, but there is more. New Yorkers have a lower electricity average than America as a whole. America travel is incomplete without a trip to NYC!
Denver is home to the largest city park system in America, and they have almost one hundred miles of hiking trails to get around. Don’t miss Denver Museum of Nature & Science, when you travel here.
Denver also has a plan called Greenprint Denver that set specific goals for cleaner air, water, and land. These goals are all attainable and measurable, and few other cities have plans as comprehensive as this. Finally, Denver collects about 26,000 tons of recyclables a year. Denver is another city that is working its way towards an even greener future.
These are just ten cities that are also wonderful to travel to, apart from being green. Many smaller cities are doing the same – so here’s to some green America travel!