Ashley Katz

Ah, California! Home to pristine beaches, lush forests, and vibrant cities, California is a vacationers paradise. Often lauded for its progressive environmental policy, commitment to LEED and its Greenbuilld hospitality, its diversity of LEED-certified vacation destinations should not be overlooked. The state also tops in the nation for LEED—our recent state snapshot counted 6,438 commercial LEED projects, totaling more than one billion square feet of space.

If you’re planning a summer getaway before Labor Day bares its ugly head, look no further than the sunshine state. Here’s our itinerary celebrating all things LEED! 

First stop—Santa Monica

Start your adventure in Santa Monica, home to Muscle Beach and the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel. Check into the LEED Gold Shore Hotel, where you’re steps away from the Santa Monica Pier.  From there, rent a bike or walk to Santa Monica Farmers Market for a farm-fresh lunch, before hoping aboard public transit for the LEED certified J. Paul Getty Museum Art.


With its not-to-miss coastal trails and beaches, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for the Central Coast gem. Hang your boots (or flip flops) at the LEED Silver Portola Hotel & Spa, a waterfront retreat within arms length of Monterey’s famous scenic bike path to many must see destinations-- Del Monte Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row.

After spending a few days exploring Carmel by the Sea, Big Sur, Carmel Valley and 17-Mile Drive, take Pacific Coastal Highway to head further north to the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Fan of city living? Stay at the LEED Silver W Hotel, and plan to explore eclectic neighborhoods (The Mission and Castro are not to miss), museums like the San Francisco Museum of Art and urban gardens like Yerba Buena.

More into natural scenery? Explore the largest green space in San Francisco--Golden Gate National Park. Spread along three miles of the pacific coast, Golden Gate Park offers walking, jogging, skating and cycling trails, peaceful spaces and gorgeous ocean views.

Plan a visit to the LEED Platinum California Academy of Sciences-- a 400,000 square foot structure that houses an aquarium, a planetarium a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one (living) roof. 

While in the Bay Area, don’t forget to board a ferry for a daytrip in Sausalito. If you have more time, make it an overnight excursion and stay at Cavallo Point Lodge. Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on 27 acres of parkland, the LEED Gold Cavollo Point Lodge, a former military base, officially became a National Park in 2002.

Next stop: Napa Valley

It wouldn’t be a proper California vacation without a jaunt to wine country. Spend a few relaxing days at the LEED Platinum Bardessono in downtown Yountville where you’ll find dozens of winery within walking distance.  While touring the area, take a 20-minute detour to the LEED Gold CADE Winery located on the foothills of the Howell Mountain for a glass (or two!) of the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon.

Are you planning on vacationing green building style? Share your vacation plans in the comments.