For a city so committed to green issues that it has banned plastic carrier bags, it’s hardly surprising that San Francisco is home to one of the world’s most deeply green hotels, the Orchard Garden (466 Bush Street, theorchardgardenhotel.com). Designed according to sustainable principles, the hotel was built using recycled ash and is certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed). It features furniture made from sustainably grown maple, low-energy light bulbs, in-room recycling bins and organic toiletries and cleaning products. Doubles from £130 (room only).
Fish & Farm (339 Taylor Street, fishandfarmsf.com) makes for a memorable evening out, with a sophisticated menu that focuses on local, sustainable produce and super-stylish surroundings. The restaurant’s executive chef, Jacob des Voignes, aims to serve all-organic produce from within a 100-mile radius. If you’re not in the market for seared Californian sea bass or mesquite-smoked risotto, opt for the similarly sustainable, but more laid-back fare at Mixt Greens (mixtgreens.com), where salads cost around £7. Or, enjoy a liquid dinner at Elixir saloon (3200 16th Street, elixirsf.com) with its delicious organic drinks list and sustainable-business happy hours.
Anyone still under the misapprehension that eco fashion means hemp dungarees and rainbow-hued ponchos is in for a surprise at Eco Citizen (1488 Vallejo Street, ecocitizenonline.com). This ethical boutique offers high-quality, fair-trade, fashion-forward clothing in a planet- and people-friendly manner. Run by a former New York Times Magazine stylist, the store’s stock ranges from asymmetric organic cotton slip dresses to designer bikinis and men’s T-shirts. For a souvenir with a difference, head to Mollusk Surf Shop (4500 Irving Street, mollusksurfshop.com) and pick up one of Danny Hess’s handmade surfboards, crafted from cork and sustainably harvested wood.
With more than 17 per cent of San Francisco given over to open space, taking a hike or going for a bike ride is an easy, low-impact way to get to grips with the city. Golden Gate Park (sfgov.org) is one of the largest urban parks in the world and is also home to the California Academy of Sciences (55 Music Concourse Drive, calacademy.org). Designed by Renzo Piano and reopened last autumn, the city’s Natural History Museum now includes an aquarium and planetarium and is set beneath a two-acre living roof. Entrance costs £16.
San Francisco’s public transport system, known as ‘the Muni’ (sfmta.com), has trams, cable cars, buses and metro trains, and last year it was joined by the even greener CultureBus ( sfculturebus.org ). Shuttling locals and visitors between Market Street and Golden Gate Park, via such attractions as the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Japanese Tea Garden, all CultureBus buses run on biodiesel or are diesel hybrids. Hop-on, hop-off tickets cost £4.30. Plan other trips at 511.org .