Jonesing for an excuse to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway or visit Western North Carolina? If a long weekend in the mountains is in your future, you may want to plan your visit around foliage expert’s color predictions. This year, biologists and naturalists in Western North Carolina and the Asheville area are singing the same tune: Seasonal weather patterns and early climate indicators may trigger the most colorful leaf season in years.
“A long spell of dry weather during the spring and summer could provide some of the most brilliant colors seen in several years for leaf-lookers headed to the mountains of Western North Carolina this autumn,” reported Katherine Mathews, Western Carolina University’s assistant professor of biology specializing in plant systematics.
Extreme elevation variations and biologically diverse microclimates combine to give the Southern Appalachian Mountains one of the longest and most colorful leaf seasons in the country.
Jesse Pope, chief naturalist at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina predicts that color at the highest elevations will begin at the end of September.
“I’m very optimistic about the intensity of color we could see this year. However, the duration and timing of fall greatly depends on these last couple of weeks in September. Rapid changes in temperature could start the color action early,” said pop Pope.
“While there were periods of low rainfall with some higher than normal temperatures, the mountains around Asheville have had plenty of rain toward the end of the summer. With cooler, clear weather moving in this September, fall seems to be setting up nicely,” seconded Parker Andes, director of horticulture at Biltmore in Asheville.
To plan your vacation, consider visiting a site like FallintheMountains.com or a Twitter account like @FallColorHunter, both sponsored by the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau. Both will track up-to-the-minute color updates.
As full-time traveling photographers, my husband and I have traveled all over the U.S. in search of the most beautiful cities and sites to photograph. From the vast open desert to towering urban skylines and raging river canyons, we’ve compiled the top 10 best places to visit for photographers. You’ll find a few well-known favorites along with some unique photography hot spots where you’ll find new inspiration. Grab your camera and let’s get clicking!
10. Seattle, WA
From gorgeous harbor views to the dramatic Mount Rainier, Seattle is city with plenty of photographic appeal. Wake up early and head down to Pike Place Market as the vendors stand claim their booths for the day. From photos of vibrant street life to stunning views of the waterway, Pike Place Market is the place to start your photo adventure in Seattle. If you are lucky enough to be in Seattle during the month of June, the Freemont Summer Solstice Parade is a photographer’s dream come true! Watch as thousands of people parade down one of Seattle’s most eclectic streets, leaving little to the imagination with colorful painted bodies and wild parade floats. It’s a blizzard of color and activity not to be missed.
Of course no trip to Seattle is complete without a trip to the Space Needle. We highly recommend shooting this famous structure at night. Behind the Space Needle is a museum designed by Frank Gehry, another beautiful structure to photograph. If you’re into architecture, continue on to Seattle’s Public Library for a few more shots. Walk along the waterfront for more camera opportunities, visit the Sculpture Gardens and if you have time, and be sure to venture out on one of the giant Ferry Boats to enjoy a ride to one of the Port cities, taking in Seattle’s majestic harbor along the way. 9. Outer Banks, NC
Sand dunes and peaceful shores await you on a photographing adventure to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Travel north past Whale Head Bay and walk along the oceanfront, if you’re lucky, you can photograph wild horses as they run through the sand and splash in the water.
Travel along Corolla Blvd. to the Currtick Beach Lighthouse for the most beautiful sunset over the still waterways. Photograph pelicans landing on the gazebo and the lighthouse just as the sun drops below the horizon. Travel south and take a ferry to Ocracoke, a quaint town offering a diverse photographing experience and beautiful views of the ocean.
8. Las Vegas, NV and Red Rock Canyon, NV
The lights! The glitz! The shine! From the bizarre to the beautiful, Las Vegas has it all for photo hunters. Schedule a trip to the Neon Graveyard to photograph the old neon signs of Las Vegas. Then head down the strip to the New York, NY hotel, The Venetian, Caesars Palace and Paris for some impressive neon-lit hotel shots. Every night starting at 8:00 pm make your way to the famous Bellagio water fountain show. The lights, the water and the amazing formations will have you clicking a mile-a-minute to keep up with this amazing display.
When the neon of Vegas is too much, head out to Red Rock Canyon Park. The park is about 15 minutes away from the strip, and boasts a 10-mile loop through some of Nevada’s most beautiful landscapes. Be sure to get there for sunset and watch the mountains change colors as the sun goes down. Beautiful rock formations, wildlife and scenic overlooks will delight any shutterbug.
7. Asheville, NC Asheville, NC offers a wealth of options for camera-toting visitors, from historic sights and natural wonders. Start with a drive on the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway and stop at amazing vista points. Travel the nearby hiking paths to see wildlife, waterfalls, and beautiful pines. Visit Chimney Rock Park and the Carolina Mountain trail for more leisurely hikes and photo experiences. For the more rigorous hikes, try the Dupont State Forrest and an unforgettable photography experience. Of course, no trip to Asheville is complete with out a trip to the Biltmore Estate. The luxurious gardens and historic mansion offer an abundance of great scenes to be snapped. 6. New York, NY New York City is an urban photographer’s dream come true. From the lights of Broadway to the Bakeries of Little Italy, the “picture perfect” photo opportunities are everywhere. Our favorite spot to shoot in New York City is Central Park. Nestled amongst thousands of skyscrapers, this urban sanctuary offers countless photography opportunities. Head to the Central Park Zoo in the Northern end of the park, or photograph the beautiful lake as boaters enjoy the city skyline. Then move to the famous historic carousel, and hop on! The views are beautiful as you take your camera and steady it on a the ride’s colorful circus animals.
In the winter visit Central Park’s ice skating rink, where hundreds of children stumble on the slippery ice with their parents. Take a stroll in the fall through tree lined paths, and in the spring enjoy the blooming spring flowers. Central Park can be enjoyed during any season, and offers the perfect picture taking experience.
5. San Francisco, CA
For photography lovers, San Francisco is the perfect mix of natural and urban. Start your day below the Golden Gate bridge to capture this amazing structure in the early morning light. Then head for Fisherman’s Wharf for the street life and views of Alcatraz. The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is another photographic must, with beautiful gardens surrounded by the dramatic city views. End your day by heading across the Golden Gate Bridge for the Marin Headlands. Head to the water surrounded by rocks and grassy hills and if you are lucky enough, see wildlife grazing in open fields.
4. Joshua Tree, CA
This extraordinary National Park in Southern California is one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the United States. Located about an hour East of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree has no shortage of amazing wildlife, scenery and fascinating rock formations to photograph. Of course, the park’s Joshua Trees are the main attraction, their odd silhouettes outlining the skyline at dusk.. Be sure to head to the vista point over the San Andreas Fault to stand this amazing geological oddity. Make sure to stick around for the picture-perfect sunset.
3. San Diego, CA
There is not a bad time of year to photograph sunny San Diego! One of the most beautiful spots in San Diego is Torrey Pines State Park. Dramatic cliffs lead to the spectacular ocean and shore line. Between January and March head to the park’s cliffs, overlooking the ocean. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the whale migration from Alaska to Baja, Mexico, perfect for some dramatic photos.
Next head to Balboa Park for beautiful photography opportunities of gorgeous buildings, and complex landscapes. Then make your way North to La Jolla to check out seal beach, where hundreds of seals bask in the sunny shores. And of course no photography trip to San Diego is complete without going to Mission Beach. Walk the two mile boardwalk for spectacular views and a gorgeous sunset, and of course Belmont Amusement park, at the end of the boardwalk.
2. Grand Canyon, AZ
The Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world, lives up to its reputation in every way. There’s no shortage of photographic experiences in the Grand Canyon either. A photo-taker could spend days in one single spot and never get the same image twice. Wake up early to see the brilliant sunrises or stay late for sunset and watch as the mountains change colors. Stop at all the scenic overlooks as you drive from one end of the park to the other. Be sure to find a hike that is comfortable for you to really get into the depths of the canyon.
1. Jerome, AZ
A hidden gem located between Sedona and Cottonwood, Jerome, Arizona is a town of 500 people embedded into the surrounding mountains. Situated on the beautiful switchbacks, Jerome offers photographers an amazing view of the valley and mountains below.
Once a fading mining town, Jerome has been revived in recent years by a growing community of artists. Every thing about Jerome is an artistic photograph waiting to happen, from the old doors to quirky light fixtures. The beauty of Jerome can be seen any time of day, but sunset is an experience you won’t soon forget. Jerome might be small, but its beauty is big, making it our favorite spot to take our cameras.
From coast to coast, America is packed with great photos waiting to happen. So, head out with your camera, find a new place, and be sure to snap a few shots along the way!
Whenever I travel overseas, I always pack a stack of postcards from North Carolina and my hometown, Asheville, located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The postcards show beautiful scenery, and they pinpoint a location some non-Americans might be unfamiliar with. By sharing my postcards, anyone can start a generic conversation (e.g., “This is where I live…”) and go from there.
Bonus: by giving someone a postcard, it becomes a souvenir from our meeting. Add your contact info on the back, and you can always stay connected.
Deciding on a top ten list of anything is usually pretty difficult. Unless you’re talking about, say, the top ten numbers one through ten… narrowing down and choosing only ten of whatever often takes a great deal of effort.
When it comes to the world of beer, with the vast array of choices out there, things become extremely problematic. Luckily, choosing ten of the best cities in which to drink a beer isn’t quite so difficult. While there are no definitive answers to the best places in the world to sip a brew — and beer culture in certain areas changes from year to year — there are certain cities that deserve special attention. In no particular order, here are 24 outstanding beer cities you should definitely try to visit with your mate — or your bar mate.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Portland is a beer lover’s paradise. Often referred to as “Beervana” or “Beertown,” the city boasts a collection of production breweries and brewpubs totaling a whopping 31 — more breweries per capita than any other city in the world.
Well-known craft breweries Widmer Brothers and Pyramid call Portland home, as does near-cult status brewery Hair of the Dog, and popular craft breweries Rogue Ales and Deschutes Brewery operate brewpubs practically around the corner from one another. In addition to such a proliferation of great brewing operations, Portland is fairly well-regarded for its beer culture and gastronomy, making the city’s title of “Beervana” difficult to refute.
Brussels, Belgium If Portland is leading America in the fine art of beer gastronomy, Brussels is certainly leading the way in Europe. While its sister to the south, France, is content with basking in the fame of the grape, Belgium has taken on the glory of the grain. The country is world-renowned for its unique beer specialties, many of which use spontaneous fermentation by wild yeasts and bacteria, and there’s no better place to enjoy Belgium’s famed beers and Cuisine à la Bière than its capital city, Brussels. However, if you’re looking for a “beer vacation,” be sure to check out this essential guide to Belgian breweries by region.
San Francisco, California, USA For any lover of American craft beer, San Francisco could be considered the Mecca of the American beer world. It was here that Fritz Maytag purchased the floundering Anchor Steam Brewery in the mid-1960s, reviving not only the brewery but several near-extinct beer styles, and re-introduced Americans to styles like Barleywine, Winter Warmer and IPA.
It’s no surprise, then, that San Francisco is thought of by many as the birthplace of the “craft beer revolution” in America, with Maytag the founding father. Maytag and his brewery are still churning out popular beers today, alongside many of the other breweries and brewpubs that have sprouted up, such as the popular 21st Amendment Brewery.
Bamberg, Germany No guide to good beer locale can truly be complete without the inclusion of Germany’s historic city Bamberg. The city, located in the Franconia region of Bavaria, survived Allied bombings in the Second World War, and its Altstadt is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Köln, Germany, Kobes (waiters) in the city’s Brauereien, keep the 200ml glasses (Stangen) coming until you signal you’re finished by placing a coaster over your drinking vessel.
But the city’s biggest attraction for beer lovers: it’s traditional specialty Rauchbier, or smoke beer, which uses malt dried over beechwood fires. The beer takes on a deep smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with smoked dishes, and nowhere can this specialty be enjoyed fresher or in greater quantity than in its historic hometown.
Dublin, Ireland Brewed and imbibed the world over, the prototypical Irish stout was first brewed up in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. The brewery celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009, having been founded in 1759 when Arthur signed a 9,000-year lease for the spot at St. James’s Gate. While every batch of Guinness stout brewed around the world uses a little of the original, visitors to Dublin know that it’s best consumed at the source, served up from a cask at one of the city’s classic pubs.
Köln (Cologne), Germany Cologne is another one of Germany’s cities with its own special beer tradition: Here it’sKölsch, a pale, subtle top-fermented ale that drinks as easily as a light lager. Perhaps it’s because it goes down so well that theKobes, waiters in the city’s various Brauereien, keep the small 200ml glasses (called Stangen) coming until you signal you are finished by placing a coaster over your drinking vessel.
And because Kölsch is protected by an appellation, the city is the only place in the world to truly enjoy this delicacy, and to enjoy it fresh at that.
Atlanta, Georgia, USA Though the American South lagged for quite some time behind the rest of the country in embracing craft beer, it’s catching up quickly. Next to Asheville, perhaps the greatest city in the South in which to enjoy beer is Georgia’s capital, Atlanta.
Two award-winning production breweries operate in the city, Atlanta Brewing Company and Sweetwater, and brewpubs and great beer bars are scattered throughout. But for a real treat? Head to Decatur, where you’ll find one of the nation’s premier beer bars, the Brick Store Pub. Here you’ll find constantly-rotating taps, a second bar dedicated to Belgian beer, an extensive bottle list, and a wonderfully eclectic, beery atmosphere.
München (Munich), Germany
Not to mention Munichin a list of great cities in which to drink beer would be like leaving hops out of the libation — sure, it can be done, but it just wouldn’t seem right.
Though the traditional beer culture in many of Germany’s cities seems to be slowly withering away, the famous beer halls of Munich’s Altstadt, especially the (in)famous Hofbräuhaus, provide a jovial atmosphere full of kitschy charm stoked by huge liter mugs of beer freshly brewed on-premises. Then there is what is undoubtedly the most famous marriage-ceremony-turned-beer-festival in the world, the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Sure, there may be some cities in the world better-suited than Munich in which to enjoy beer, but there are none more well-equipped for drinking it.
Alcohol isn’t the drug most associated with Amsterdam, but maybe it should be. Because of its central location, the Netherlands capital is practically overflowing with English and Belgian beers. It’s also got cobblestone streets, scenic waterway views and beer bikes. Wait, beer bikes? Yep, in Amsterdam you can rent a bicycle that fits 10 to 20 people – and a full bar. So you can do your sightseeing and beer-guzzling at the same time.
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Underdog Asheville beat out brew king Portland in a battle for “Beer City USA” in 2009 and some Pacific Northwesterners will never forgive them. But they should. Along with a big city-worthy music scene, a drop-dead-gorgeous mountain backdrop and good old southern hospitality, Asheville has one brewery for every 10,000 of its citizens, including the rocking Highland Brewing Company. That puts it right at Portland’s heels with the second most breweries per capita in the U.S.
Boston has a history rich in both rebellion and beer drinking. Heck, the rebellion may have started with beer drinking, as colonists met in taverns to plot against the English.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Boston has a history rich in both rebellion and beer drinking. Heck, the rebellion may have started with beer drinking, as colonists met in the taverns to plot against the English. Some of those old bars still stand today, like the historic Green Dragon and the Warren Tavern, the oldest tavern in the state.
After the Revolution, Boston saw a surge of Irish immigrants – and Irish pubs, many of which are still pouring Guinness. But Beantown’s culture of revolution isn’t stuck in the past. Boston kicked off the microbrewery trend with one of the country’s first craft brews, Samuel Adams.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
As arguably the most European city in North America, Montreal boasts brew houses that resemble British pubs and French taverns and beers that rival the best Irish stouts and Belgian wheats. At Le Cheval Blanc, the city’s oldest brewpub, try a Canadian specialty like a maple or cranberry ale. Also like Europe, Montreal patrons like to stay out late – most bars don’t open until late afternoon and stay open well into the wee hours of the morning.
San Diego, California, USA A sunny, semi-tropical paradise where serious craft brewers mingle with Corona-swigging surfers, San Diego was named the country’s top beer city by Men’s Journal. There are a mind-boggling 24 breweries mentioned on the San Diego Brewers Guild’s Web site. One such brewer, Green Flash, is named for the phenomena purported to appear over the horizon at sunset as you sit sipping a cold one and noshing on fish tacos.
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
The Rockies don’t just taste like Coors anymore, thanks to a certain broken bicycle. Before it swept the nation, New Belgium Brewery’s toasty amber Fat Tire was dreamed up in a Fort Collins basement. Host of the Colorado Brewer’s Festival, where else can you swig brews from up-and-comers like Big Horn Brewing Company (home of the Buttface Amber Ale), tour the first wind-powered brewery and also visit the home of the country’s most famous beer maker, Anheuser Busch Brewery, all while surrounded by Old West storefronts and purple mountain’s majesty?
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
It can get cold in Wisconsin. Real cold. Fortunately, Cheeseheads have a history of warming their spirits with beer, wine and spirits. Like many U.S. cities, Madison has seen a rush of microbreweries in recent years, like Ale Asylum and The Great Dane Brewing Company. But lest you think the progressive college town’s suds scene is getting snooty, remember you’re in a state where sports bars still outnumber gastropubs by a long shot. Wisconsinites drink beer because it’s their state mascot, because of their region’s deep German roots and because, well, they really like beer.
Portland, Maine, USA Portland is home to six microbreweries, including the award-winning Shipyard Brewery. Gritty McDuff’s in-house restaurant features outside seating which is dog-friendly. The state as a whole is home to a tremendous number of craft breweries, creating a beer culture that runs through the taps of the finest restaurants and the coolers of the simplest convenience stores. Be sure to pick up a six-pack to enjoy on the Casco Bay Lines sunset cruise, which allows discreet imbibing.
San Antonio, Texas, USA
With its pedestrian-friendly climate and the Tex-Mex cuisine that invites pairing with good beer, the Riverwalk of San Antonio is a great city for beer drinking. Whether sitting and sipping beer while people watching, or strolling after sampling the offerings at any of the local brew pubs, the beauty and beer of San Antonio make a combination not be missed.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
In New Orleans, it’s not unusual to find great beer deals, such as “buy one get three free”; you can save enough on beer to cover your flight and hotel.
Nawlins is the undisputed home of amazing food, great music and parties that never end. The Quarter is the center of all of this. To-go cups are common, making it easy to continue the party as the mood motivates movement. It is not unusual to find great beer deals, such as “buy one get three free”; you can save enough on beer to cover flight and your hotel in a heartbeat.
And let’s be honest, even if The Big Easy weren’t that awesome, the city would still make this list, thanks exclusively to the incredible Abita Brewery.
Key West, Florida, USA
Key West has “end of the world syndrome.” As the Southernmost point of the North American continent — and home to the country’s southernmost brewery — Key West boasts an eclectic group of locals and visitors, which translates to a (nearly) judgment-free zone. It is also another one of the few places where beer is offered in to-go cups, allowing you to wander the streets and sample the music in any of the open-air venues before committing to going in to any one of them.
Seattle, Washington, USA
Seattle is also known for having a bit of the “end of the world” syndrome. While the climate is not as bad as it is reputed to be, it is not quite as welcoming as that of Key West. Regardless, the weather is more than compensated for by the music and microbrew culture. Seattle itself is home to a slew of brew pubs and six breweries, including the now bi-coastal Red Hook Brewery.
Burlington, Vermont, USA There is much to be said for the atmosphere of a college town. It doesn’t fit the pattern of “end of the world” syndrome, but it still has an atmosphere of acceptance. Even better, Burlington is strongly influenced by the presence of Magic Hat Brewery (located in nearby South Burlington) and is host to the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Located on the banks of Lake Champlain and surrounded by Vermont’s trademark mountains, Burlington is a perfect beer-love nest.
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
NoHo, as locals call it, is far from your average college town. Local schools range from the University of Massachusetts to two of the Seven Sisters. You will be hard-pressed to find an establishment that doesn’t have at least one beer you’ve never tried, with plenty of street performers to entertain you from site to site. A short drive will take you from the city’s center to the Northampton Brewery and restaurant to cap off your visit.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Every city on this list celebrates its beers. To that end, Baltimore hosts Baltimore Beer Week, which, appropriately, is a ten day celebration. The city proper boasts several breweries, and the bars in town pride themselves on the variety of craft beers on tap. Just remember that when the bartender calls you “Hon,” it’s not flirting – it’s just the city’s trademark hospitality.
If you’ve been counting, you’ll see we’ve only listed 23 cities. So what happened to City Number 24? Well, we meant to include 24, but when we looked over our research, some of our <burp> notes were too hard to read. So we’ll just close with this: whatever city you’re in, enjoying with friends or family and a cold beer — that’s the 24th city on the list.
Not too long ago, any hotel that had one of those “please reuse your towels” signs in the bathroom was considered “green“. But with new hotels upping the ante by adding more features that reduce waste and environmental impact, it takes a lot more than that to truly be green. Here are some of the greenest hotel features to look for in an eco-friendly hotel.
Sheet and Towel Reuse Programs Literally, this is the least a hotel can do. Asking guests to reuse towels and only changing the linens every few days or between guests no doubt saves water (and money for the hotel) but those positive contributions can easily be negated through other actions. If this all the hotel does, it might just be more frugal than green.
Bulk Toiletry Dispensers Every time you check into a hotel, you’re provided with small bottles of face wash, body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Even if you’ve only used a minuscule drop, those bottles are tossed out and restocked at the end of your stay. This happens every day, for every room sold, at hotels all around the world. That’s a lot of tiny bottles clogging up landfills. The greener option being implemented in many hotels is to install bulk dispensers (similar to soap dispensers in public restrooms) that dole out small amounts of shampoo, soap and lotion without the extra packaging.
Local and Organic Cooking Hotel restaurant chefs that use local, fair-trade, sustainable and organic ingredients get a gold-star for for being green. Using local products means that the food travels less to get to the consumer, which in turn means less energy is used and less emissions are added to the air from the planes, trains and trucks that transport food. Organic ingredients are created without the chemicals and pesticides that can harm the surrounding eco-systems, fair-trade products support local farmers, and sustainable foodstuffs are made in a way that doesn’t deplete the natural resources of the area. Hotels that employ these practices in their restaurants are doing something that is not only healthy for their guests, but is healthy for the community and environment as well. The hotel gets even more bonus points if some or all of the produce comes from the hotel’s own garden.
Green Lighting Practices Replacing fluorescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) means that a hotel will use 75% less energy per year. While hotel guests can do their part by turning off all unnecessary lights when not in the room, some hotels, like the LEED-certified Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco, make this easier by requiring the lights to be activated by key card. The key card, usually attached to the hotel key, must be inserted into a slot in order to turn the lights on. Since you’ll obviously need to take the key and lighting key card with you when you leave the room, there’s no way you can leave the lights on while you’re out.
Green Building Materials The buildings at Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge in Alaska are constructed from scavenged driftwood, the mattresses and bedding at the Asheville Green Cottage in South Carolina are made from all organic materials, and the walls at Los Manos B&B in Colorado are built of local adobe and the ceilings are insulated with cellulose from old newspapers. All of these properties are using green building practices that help conserve precious resources. Using recycled, organic, scavenged and eco-friendly (like low-emission paints) materials in the building process makes a hotel green from the very beginning.
Reducing Water Usage The El Monte Sagrado in Taos, New Mexico filters its wastewater into pure drinking water, but there are plenty of other ways hotels can save water that are a littler easier to do. Many green hotels install low-flow regulators in showers and toilet tanks, and some even put in automatic-timer showers that shut off after a certain number of minutes. (You can restart them with the push of a button, but the ticking clock serves as a powerful reminder to make it quick). Hotels in temperate areas have chosen to do their landscaping with tropical plants, which require less water to maintain.
Alternative Power Many hotels are looking to alternative sources of power; the Alpine House in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gets all of its power from wind turbines. Look for hotels that boast the use of solar and wind power for even part of their energy usage. Hotels that use shade trees and crosswinds to cool rooms, rather than air conditioning, also increase their eco-friendly factor.
Recycling Programs All the paper used in the Hotel Triton in San Francisco, from napkins in the restaurant to stationary in the guest rooms, is made from recycled materials. Of course, after it’s used, it still gets tossed out. I’ve never seen a recycling bin in any hotel I’ve stayed in, and I highly doubt that housekeeping takes the time to separate recyclables from trash. As a result, plenty of paper, aluminum and plastic that could be recycled ends up getting tossed. Any hotel that offers recycling bins in the room is one step up on the green ladder.
Green Cleaning Products Using non-toxic, all-natural cleaning products helps reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals that get into the water system and cause pollution. Look for hotels like Denver’s Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast which uses only baking soda to its clean tubs, sinks and toilets.
Other Green Practices When combined with some of these larger-scale practices, the smallest acts can help make a green hotel even more eco-friendly. All Fairmont hotels offer free parking for hybrid cars, the Vancouver Hilton offers an alternative fueling station, and many hotels will provide free bikes for guests to get around on. Stocking guest rooms with glass drinking cups instead of plastic and relying on natural lighting as much as possible in public areas are two additional practices that make a big difference.
I doubt there’s any hotel that employs every single one of these practices. But it’s a safe bet to say that the more of these strategies a hotel uses, the greener it is. No hotel will have zero impact on the environment, but choosing a hotel that take does its best to use environmentally-friendly policies will help make your travels greener.