The NFL championship is drawing thousands to Santa Clara this February. If you are one of the lucky few to get tickets, we’re jealous. The rest of us will have to plan our trips for later this year. No matter when you go to the South Bay Area, there are so many things to do. We put together this list of the best sustainable places to stay, eat and visit. Here you’ll find everything you need from organic breweries to sustainable go kart arenas.
The main event: Levi’s Stadium
Levi’s Stadium: Levi’s Stadium is LEED Gold certified and takes energy conservation seriously. With the severe drought in California, employees worked hard to create the most sustainable irrigation plan for the field. The stadium also has solar-paneled pedestrian bridges and one solar-paneled roof deck so it can generate its own electricity. A live dashboard with current energy measurements for the stadium’s daily operations is available for visitors to see. Check out the public stadium tours after football season.
Where to book your stay
Best Western Santa Clara: Best Western in Santa Clara aims to be the top eco-friendly hotel in the area. All showers and faucets are low-flow, and guests are encouraged to reuse their sheets and towels. The rooms have motion sensors to monitor lights and HVAC units and turn them off when the rooms are not in use. Additionally, all light bulbs, batteries, electronic parts and printer ink are given to CleanBayArea.com for proper disposal.
Hotel Valencia Santana Row: In just five short months, Hotel Valencia Santana Row reduced its carbon imprint by 47,740 pounds, according to Energystar.gov. The hotel installed a new Ozone laundry system that reduced water usage up to 35% and dryer time by 60%. The Ozone system is known as the most powerful disinfectant and oxidant commercially available. The executive chef works with local farmers and fisherman to get the freshest ingredients and decrease emissions caused by shipping.
Where to wine and dine
Clos LaChance Winery: All water used to process wines at this 60,000 case production facility is recycled. Clos LaChance uses cover crops to protect and enhance its soil. Cheryl Murphy Durzy, the vice president of marketing at Clos LaChance, currently sits on the Sustainability Committee at the Wine Institute and leads development for sustainability standards. This winery has a goal of running entirely on solar power one day.
Testarossa Winery and Tasting Room: Founded in 1993 in Los Gatos, Testarossa Winery and Tasting Room is committed to sustainability. The winery only partners with growers who share the same long-term vision for sustainability. Testarossa uses 100% food-grade oils and lubricants in wine production. The cleaning agents are steam and plant-oil based, so they are safe for the waste stream after they’re used. The low-flow barrel washers are designed to conserve water, and the barrels are repurposed after they’re used for winemaking.
The Farmers Union: A 2015 OpenTable winner, The Farmers Union is truly a Santa Clara favorite. Of the 52 beers on tap, most are local to reduce pollution associated with shipping. Wine enthusiasts can take part too, since The Farmers Union features all of its wines on tap to reduce waste from glass wine bottles. The restaurant uses organic ingredients whenever possible, and it makes an extra effort to be sustainable by recycling fryer oil and menu paper.
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing: Beers at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing are certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Its organic hops comes from Clearlake, California, and its grain and hops are not treated with harmful pesticides. The brewery has partnered with Garden Variety Cheeses so used grain can be used to feed the sheep for its line of sheep’s milk cheese. Water is a precious resource in California, so this brewery conserves water by re-using chiller water during the cleaning process.
Where to explore
Santa Clara University: Santa Clara University is taking action to conserve resources. The university transformed Palm Drive into Abby Sobrato Mall, now a pedestrian walkway that leads to Mission Santa Clara and reduces transportation pollution. Visitors can also visit the de Saisset Museum, for free, along the pedestrian walkway. Because of the drought in California, the campus garden uses a drip irrigation system to avoid over-watering. Additionally, four campus fountains have been turned off while the St. Ignatius and Abby Sobrato fountains will remain on, but will be converted to recycled water as soon as possible.
K1 Speed: If you’re looking for a fun outing, K1 Speed is an indoor go kart adventure that’s fun for everyone. The goal of K1 Speed is to give people a safe, comfortable environment to experience racing. In the arena, K1 Speed uses zero-emission Pro Karts that run on electricity, not gasoline. Used metal go kart parts are recycled locally, and old go kart batteries are sent back to the supplier for proper recycling. Recently, K1 Speed in Santa Clara planted drought-resistant plants out front to reduce their irrigation needs.
Alviso Marina County Park: The 18.9-acre Alviso Marina County Park is a gateway to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The pathways and trails offer scenic views of the mountains surrounding the bay area and the natural wildlife in the ponds. Visitors can hike, bike and bird watch in the park and refuge. You can even bring lunch and have a picnic in the park. Alviso Marina County Park is open all year from 8 a.m. until sunset.