santa monica sustainable travel

Sustainable Travel in Santa Monica

Known for its longstanding commitment to sustainability, Santa Monica continues to practice and push for greener, environmentally-friendly ways of living and doing business, including a focus on sustainable tourism. In recent years, even more of Santa Monica’s businesses, hotels and restaurants have stepped up their sustainable practices.

What Green Means to Us

The City of Santa Monica is the very first city to achieve Platinum level certification under the LEED for Cities program, making it a leader in sustainability for global travel. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed LEED, which is the world’s most commonly utilized green building grading system. Local governments are exhibiting leadership and responsibility through certification at the municipal scale through LEED for Cities, aiming to reduce their environmental impact.

Going green with blue jeans

Beach House Sustainability

Just north of the Santa Monica Pier is Annenberg Community Beach House: the country’s first and only public beach club, and a Gold LEED certified building that used recycled blue jeans for insulation. This public facility is located on five acres of oceanfront property that was initially developed during the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies.

Visitors can take a dip in the same original marble pool where the old Hollywood elite did, play volleyball, have lunch at the Back on the Beach Cafe, take yoga classes and learn about Santa Monica history and cultural heritage with free docent tours at the Marion Davies Guest House.

Heal the Bay Aquarium

Featuring hands-on presentations and interactive exhibits, the Heal the Bay Aquarium is a part of the “Heal the Bay” program–an initiative to educate, inspire and empower visitors to be stewards of the environment.

Heal the Bay hosts monthly free, volunteer-based beach cleanups. Locals and visitors come together to beautify beaches by picking up trash, plastic water bottles and other waste that would end up in the ocean.

santa monica aquarium
sustainable travel

The architect responsible for New York City’s celebrated High Line Park, James Corner Field Operations, designed Tongva Park’s six-acre urban oasis just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean.

Centrally located and ocean-facing, Tongva Park is full of native and drought-tolerant plants, reducing its water needs. Much of its water comes from the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURFF)! Enjoy winding walkways, observation decks, picnic tables and ample open grass.

Tongva Park
green santa monica
Tongva Park

Coolest wheel

The 13-story Pacific Wheel is the world’s first and only solar-powered Ferris wheel and was named one of the “World’s Coolest Ferris Wheels” by Travel + Leisure.

Panoramic views

Hop on and take in panoramic views of the all-natural Los Angeles coastline and mountains from more than 185 feet above the Santa Monica Pier.

Energy friendly

On the Pacific Wheel, 174,000 energy-efficient LED lights create an 85-foot high computer-generated light show that’s as cool-looking as it is eco-friendly.

green hotels santa monica
Stay sustainably

Green Hotels in Santa Monica

Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica Motel and Shore Hotel are all certified green hotels in Santa Monica, by the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program, part of the California Green Business Program Network, which leads the state and nation in working with small to medium-sized businesses to grow a vibrant and healthy green economy.

The program details measures for conserving resources, preventing pollution, reducing carbon emissions and minimizing waste.

For a current list of all the Santa Monica Certified Green Hotels that meet the criteria established by the California Green Business Network, click here.

Certified Green Hotels

The Ambrose Hotel is Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and Proper Hotel is Silver LEED certified. They offer eco-friendly accommodations in addition to a variety of fantastic amenities.

To improve sustainability and create eco-experiences, these hotels use a range of green business practices including reduced water consumption, increased water & energy efficiency, solar panels, LED lighting and more.

sustainable hotels santa monica

Earn rewards

The waterfront Hotel Casa del Mar uses low VOC paints, has implemented low flow toilets and utilizes ORCA technology to reduce food waste as some of its eco-friendly efforts. And employees at the hotel even earn rewards for walking, biking and carpooling to work.

Reduce & reuse

At the Viceroy, eco-friendly measures include refillable toiletries in the bathroom, leak-detection system for all fixtures, comprehensive recycling for everything from light bulbs to printer cartridges, and even $10 off overnight parking for guests who arrive in hybrid cars.

Keep it clean

The Shore Hotel boasts a solar energy-heated pool, next to which guests will find Raw Elements, a reef-friendly non-oxybenzone sunscreen, available in a pump dispenser.

Green Transportation

Santa Monica’s green public transportation options include Metro, Big Blue Bus, electric scooters and the Metro E (Expo) Line. The Santa Monica shuttle Circuit transports riders to Downtown Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier, Main Street and Montana Avenue.

No Gas, All Pedal

Another great way to get around Santa Monica’s unique local communities is on a bike.

The Santa Monica Bike Center, in downtown, rents bikes for $20 for two hours. And if visitors bring their own rides, the Bike Center also offers a safe bike valet program with bike parking for a nominal fee.

For riding along the coast, Perry’s Café and Beach Rentals also rents hourly or all-day cruisers to ride on beach paths.

Marvin Braude Bike Trail
biking downtown santa monica
sustainable restaurants food
Eat clean in Santa Monica

Sustainable Restaurants & Food

Named one of the best in the country by Travel + Leisure, the farmers market sets the tone for Santa Monica dining. With nearly 200 different growers and food purveyors at the beach city’s four weekly farmers markets, Santa Monica continues to attract famous chefs who value locally-sourced ingredients and foodies who want to explore diverse culinary offerings. You’ll find no shortage of local, organic ingredients as well as a variety of plant-based options when you visit Santa Monica.

Many restaurants in Santa Monica work with nearby farmers or source from local markets to ensure their food doesn’t have to travel far. Lunetta, Fig at the Fairmont Miramar, and the Rustic Canyon family of restaurants (Birdie G’s, Cassia, Esters Wine Shop & Bar, Huckleberry Bakery & Café, Milo & Olive, and Sweet Rose Creamery) are all committed to sourcing locally-grown produce, meats and provisions as much as possible.

Feel Good About What You Eat

Dating back to 1939, this local seafood distributor and market is a longtime champion of responsible fishing practices. Santa Monica Seafood partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and applies the program’s rankings to its own inventory. The distributor also founded the Responsible Sourcing Vendor Program to support other fish suppliers toward more sustainable practices.

Santa Monica seafood storefront
santa monica seafood

Green Shopping in Santa Monica

Also known as the “Green Light District,” Main Street offers a laid-back beach lifestyle and commitment to sustainability. This street has more certified green businesses than any in Santa Monica. It’s also home to a community garden, boutiques, design galleries, cafes, bars, restaurants and more.

See All Main Street Shops

Gold LEED-certified Santa Monica Place delivers three levels of retail and dining options with beautiful views of the Pacific.

Originally an indoor mall, Santa Monica Place was renovated into an open-air concept and reopened in August 2010. The new design maximizes sunlight and fresh air, creating an uninterrupted walking experience.

Today, Santa Monica Place uses water-efficient landscaping, a green roof element and many other sustainable property features to reduce their carbon footprint.

Less plastic

Recontained helps consumers rethink plastic containers. They sell personal care and home cleaning supplies that can be refilled and reused, plus biodegradable options: package-free laundry stain sticks made with orange essential oil, glass pumps of shampoo and conditioner, and scour brushes made from coconut husks that don’t end up in landfills.

More uses

Along Montana Avenue, the pint-sized Square One Refills shop specializes in sustainable personal care and home care products. Bring your own bottles and jars to be refilled with body washes, shampoo and dish soap. You’ll also find soap bars wrapped in paper, natural deodorant, solid dishwashing block soap and more.

Cool clothes

In downtown LA, Reformation is known for its sustainable practices using low-impact materials, deadstock fabrics and vintage clothing. The brand also works with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to neutralize its water footprint, and encourages consumers to cold wash clothes and skip the dryer to save energy.


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