VACATION TIME: A CAR-FREE URBAN EXPERIENCE

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Cities across the country are taking steps to become more sustainable. Reflecting these efforts, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) launched the Smarter Cities (smartercities.nrdc.org) initiative to rank cities doing it best. With Seattle in the top spot, a range of beautiful tourist destinations from Austin to Chicago and San Francisco round out the top 15. Cities are measured by their strengths in areas such as green space, public transportation, recycling programs and more.

An urban adventure is perfect for families who enjoy the hustle and bustle that cities offer and who don’t mind walking and using public or alternative modes of transportation. Even city hotels are employing sustainable best practices to lure today’s eco-conscious guests.

ELEMENT BY WESTIN

Element by Westin, is a new green hotel chain from Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (starwoodhotels.com/element). Locations already open or opening soon include the following Smarter Cities: Boston, Denver, New York City. All element hotels have committed to pursuing the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Certification, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. In addition, element hotels use features like low-VOC paints, recycled materials in construction, and dispenser systems for bath amenities.

KIMPTON HOTELS

Kimpton Hotels (kimptonhotels.com) is a boutique hotel group with a solid record of sustainability and numerous awards to show for their efforts. Some of the more walkable U.S. cities where you’ll find Kimpton include San Francisco, Portland, Cambridge, and Chicago. Kimpton’s EarthCare® program guarantees restaurants with organic menus, water- and energy-efficient products in rooms and an aggressive recycling program.