by Alisha McDarris
Read more from Alisha on her blog, TerraDrift.com
Santa Monica is Los Angeles’ beachy playground, and travelers from far and wide flock to the area for seaside fun with an electric vibe. If you aim to leave a lighter footprint while visiting this outdoorsy paradise, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of green attractions in Santa Monica. Whether you’re eating, staying, or playing, options for sustainable travel in this part of Los Angeles are plentiful.
1. Groundwork Coffee
Start your day off right with a latte from this café that’s all about coffee, tea, and community. All their beverage options are organic and, with the exception of their house-made cashew milk, they don’t upcharge dairy-free folks for non-dairy milk. You can even get breakfast or pastries (vegan and gluten-free options included) in any of their dozen locations in and around LA.
2. Frozen Fruit Co.
This all-vegan soft serve parlor makes organic, frozen, dairy-free desserts in-house daily. Their ice cream is sweetened with dates and uses a coconut milk base, and the ingredients for all flavors (like chocolate mint or pineapple-passionfruit) are listed right on the board.
3. Buffalo Exchange
We’ve all been there: you arrive at your dream destination, jetlagged and worn out, and start unpacking, only to realize you forgot your favorite sweater. Well, fear not! Head over to Buffalo Exchange, where you’ll find stylish used clothing and accessories for every taste, but for a lot less than you’d pay if it were brand new. Plus, since the clothes are second-hand, you can expect that warm fuzzy feeling for keeping them out of a landfill.
4. Rent a bike
The bus is great and walking is free, but the most fun way to get around Santa Monica by far is on two wheels. It’s super eco-friendly, you’ll get some exercise while you’re at it, and it’s just plain fun to cruise up and down the beach. Grab a bike from any number of local purveyors. Public Bike Rental charges as little as $16 per day.
5. Vegan Scene
If you really want to treat yourself while visiting Santa Monica, head over to Vegan Scene. It’s technically in Venice, which borders Santa Monica, but the cute, cruelty-free clothing and trendy accessories are worth the trip if you feel like splurging on locally designed fashion with a conscience. Plus, Sinners and Saints bakery is just two blocks away and has delightful vegan desserts!
6. Santa Monica Farmers Market
For all manner of farm-fresh produce, afternoon snacks, and organic treats, don’t miss the twice-weekly Santa Monica Farmers Market. The market is huge, offering plenty of opportunities to pick up dinner fixings for the week.
7. Pacific Wheel
Looking for a fun place to spend the afternoon? Head to the Santa Monica Pier for a spin around the large Ferris wheel. It won’t come cheap at $10 per ticket, but it promises great photo ops. It’s also the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel.
A local chain opened in the 1970s, Earthbar was one of the first organic restaurants in Los Angeles. Now with several locations around Santa Monica and the greater LA area, it’s easier than ever to stay healthy and eat organic while traveling. Smoothies, acai bowls, vitamins, and grab-and-go snacks are all on offer. They’ve even got a Santa Monica location right across from the beach, so you can slake your thirst while still working on your tan.
9. HI Los Angeles Santa Monica
For eco-friendly accommodation in Santa Monica, look no further than HI USA. The organization purchases 100% wind-powered electricity, and many of its locations, including the Santa Monica hostel, boast green certifications. In addition, HI USA is turning its focus to reducing water usage with its Million Gallon Challenge. HI USA is installing Hydrao SmartShower heads in its hostels all over the country, and HI Santa Monica is already complete. The illuminated showerheads change color the longer you’ve been in the shower, giving you a visual signal of how much water you’ve used. Guests who take the hint and opt to shave just 30 seconds off their showers will each save a whole gallon of water. Once the showerheads are installed at HI USA hostels across the country, the goal is to save a million gallons overall, 30 seconds at a time.
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