Seattle to San Francisco on the techno-Savvy West Coast Green Highway
By Robin Cherry
Called “the Corridor of the Future” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the West Coast Green Highway could just as easily be called heaven for your Chevrolet Spark EV, or any other electric or alternative-fuel vehicle. This collaboration between the states of Washington, Oregon and California, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia, places fast-charge stations every 40 to 60 miles along the 1,350-mile Interstate 5 corridor that runs from Canada to Mexico. Since we can’t think of a more fitting road trip for your game-changing Spark EV, here are some notable green stops along the scenic stretch between Seattle and San Francisco.
Start your road trip in Seattle after a restful night at the eco-friendly Alexis Hotel, which was awarded four Green Leaves by the Audubon Society. The contemporary boutique hotel is steps from the waterfront and Pike’s Place Market, but even better, you get a 50% discount on parking for your Spark EVand you can give it a free charge at the hotel’s own Ecotality Blink Electric Car Charging Station.
Even though it’s only three hours from Seattle, Portland is one of the country’s most interesting food (and green) destinations, and warrants more than just a drive through. For lunch, check out Bamboo Sushi, the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant (and one of the country’s best). In addition to using only fresh, ethically sourced fish, meats and produce, chef Kristofor Lofgren purchases 100% of his power from renewable energy sources; composts; recycles; and offers reusable chopsticks and biodegradable take-out containers.
You can continue on, but if you haven’t been to Portland before, it seems a shame not to spend the night. Check into the Hotel Vintage Plaza (like the Alexis, a Kimpton Hotel, so the same parking discount and free charging station apply). Widely touted as the greenest city in America, Portland is filled with parks and gardens and surrounded with mountains lined with hiking trails.
Before you jump back into your Spark EV and continue south, charge your own batteries with a cup of joe from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Portland institution that’s widely credited with revolutionizing the coffee business by working directly with coffee farmers and highlighting the flavor profile of each bean.
Wolf Creek, OR
You can stop for lunch at the Wolf Creek Inn, a former stagecoach stopover and Oregon’s oldest continuously operated hotel. While the hotel and restaurant have been restored to preserve their historic character, you’ll know it’s the 21st Century as the inn has its very own EV charging station.
Continue south to Redding, CA to see Santiago Calatrava’s iconic Sundial Bridge, a cantilevered bicycle and pedestrian bridge that spans the Sacramento River and links the two sections of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a museum that explores the relationship between humans and our environment.
Continue 12 miles south to Anderson, CA and check into the Gaia Hotel and Spa, one of northern California’s most environmentally conscious hotels. (Gaia is Greek for Mother Earth.) Tubular skylights diffuse light throughout the simple, chic guest rooms, reducing the need for electricity. Picture windows provide views of the hotel’s gardens, fountains and swan lagoon. Treatments at the Gaia’s Living Waters Spa incorporate indigenous flowers and herbs into their holistic therapies.
San Francisco, CA
Once rejuvenated, head to San Francisco and check into the tranquil, eco-conscious Orchard Garden Hotel, near Union Square. It was the first hotel in California awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council when it opened in 2006, and it feels just as fresh and green today. Rooms are decorated in soothing ivory and beige with Forest Stewardship Council certified maple wood furniture and abundant natural light. Your key-card activates the thermostat, which is turned off when the guest room is empty, reducing energy consumption by 20%. When you’re ready to hit the road again (whether you head south to San Diego or back up north), there’s an EV charging station just around the corner on Kearny St.
The trademarks mentioned in this story are heald by their respective owners.
Robin Cherry is a travel, food and pop culture writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Afar, Islands and may other publications.