Boom or bust, California has always been a destination for travelers of every stripe. From the ocean and forests to the foothills, mountains, high desert, and beyond, the Golden State has lots to offer visitors interested in world-famous attractions, national parks, and urban nightlife.
The tourism association Visit California estimates that 2022 will see a 94% recovery to pre-pandemic levels of leisure travelers. Now, those leisure travelers seeking sun and fun can schedule cannabis-friendly destinations and activities on their California dream itinerary.
Travel and cannabis on the West Coast
“California is setting itself up as a true cannabis vacation destination. We have seen a noticeable increase in trip-planning lately," said Monique Jackson-Fitzgerald, CEO of the cannabis-friendly travel booking platform Inndica.
“It has been the summer of travel," she added. "For our visitors, coming out of the pandemic restrictions, the new travel mindset is about finding meaningful gatherings, unique destinations, and transformational experiences. We have found that there are nearly unlimited ways to pair cannabis with travel, so it's easy to craft an itinerary that encompasses all the best of a destination's offerings.
After all, with its enviable climate, California contains some of the most legendary cannabis-growing regions in the world, like the Emerald Triangle located north of San Francisco, in forests and mountains that stretch from the ocean northward past the border with Oregon.
Here are some 420-friendly destinations in California.
420-friendly destinations in Northern California
Once considered clandestine, visitors to Humboldt County's Lost Coast and little towns like Mendocino and Guerneville can increasingly find “420-friendly" bed & breakfast accommodations, cannabis-infused wellness activities, and cannabis farm tours.
“In Northern California, one of our favorite spots is Mine+Farm Inn. It's a gorgeous property surrounded by nature. They are located next door to Korbel Vineyards (in Guerneville, California)," Jackson-Fitzgerald said. “A perfect place to pick up a vintage to enjoy with your flower."
Mine+Farm Inn offers organic breakfasts with ingredients sourced from local farms, as well as special dining events. Guests can easily arrange a cannabis farm tour with one of several local tour companies. “Both the Sonoma County Experience and Happy Travelers Tours are in the area and present an opportunity for visitors to explore cannabis from seed to shelf," Jackson-Fitzgerald said.
Oakland Cannabis Trail
Hop on Highway 1 to make your way up the winding coast to the Bay Area and the City of Oakland, which has grown to become a hub for the state's cannabis industry. They're also a leader in social equity through the efforts of local pioneering cannabis businesses like Harborside dispensary and its affiliated cannabis college Oaksterdam University, as well as local women- and POC-owned small manufacturers and vendors.
Hoping to promote the city's cannabis renaissance, the tourist organization Visit Oakland developed the Oakland Cannabis Trail, a wandering guide through downtown Oakland, where tourists can hit a long list of cannabis retailers and attractions including interactive art, dining, shopping, and entertainment.
“Visit Oakland launched the trail in Spring 2022, so this is a new Oakland experience," Peter Gamez, president and CEO of Visit Oakland told Weedmaps. “There has been a lot of interest in the Oakland Cannabis Trail. It quickly became one of the top ten searches on our site and keeps climbing. The dispensaries have experienced people visiting because they've heard or read about the trail. We are confident this will continue to increase as the information is shared and people are more aware of their cannabis travel options when visiting Oakland."
“Some of the most popular experiences," Gamez added, "have been hiking in our beautiful redwood forests, visiting the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), and taking a self-guided art walk. The most popular activity is exploring Oakland's diverse and amazing culinary scene,"
Cannabis dispensaries on the trail guide include Harborside, Cookies, NUG Oakland, Ivy Hill Cannabis, and Blunts + Moore, among others. Local outdoor landmarks like Lake Merrit are included on the Trail, and several options for foodies like LJ Quinn's Lighthouse Pub, Off the Hook Seafood & Super Burritos, Au Lounge, and Aburaya's Japanese Fried Chicken, to name a few.
420-friendly destinations in Central California
For all-inclusive cannabis getaways, buzz over to the central California coast.
Higherway Travel is based out of Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo County, near Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. Its co-founder, April Black, has organized cannabis travel tours and special events since the early 2000s and said that she also has recently seen an increase in inquiries for some of Higherway's popular tours, which are offered in Central and Northern California, Hawaii, and, previously, even in Europe.
For the destination event traveler, Black can custom-design a curated cannabis experience to suit any occasion, including bridal showers, weddings, birthdays, and group trips, as well as help guests coordinate accommodations and schedule local activities, “With so many people going 'California Sober,' many are opting out of gatherings that include alcohol," Black told Weedmaps. “I had a group of senior ladies for a private yoga class, and they were absolutely a joy. With private yoga, I come to you with everything. That experience includes mats, blankets, straps, blocks, aromatherapy, music, CBD topicals to try, edibles, smoke sesh, and, of course, yoga."
Curated events range in price depending on what kind of activities guests would like to experience; elaborate, all-inclusive weekends can start at $1,000 and may include wine tasting, a visit to local hot springs, spa treatments, gourmet cuisine, and a round of golf. Black attempts to accommodate every request.
“That is the best part about being a cannabis tour guide — the sky's the limit," she said.
420-friendly destinations in Southern California
In Southern California, Jackson-Fitzgerald said that the Coachella Valley is heating up with lots of options for a high desert holiday, whether you're into health and wellness or lounging like a lizard.
Desert Hot Springs Inn
“There are dozens of consumption lounges, delivery services, and canna-friendly hotels. Desert Hot Springs is home to a couple of the first (hotels), and they roll out a green carpet welcome," Jackson-Fitzgerald shared. “If you are looking for an escape, walk through the gates of Desert Hot Springs Inn, and leave the rest of the world behind. DHS Inn is also dog-friendly. Bring the pooch, and they can romp in the enclosed dog run or hang with you in the fully fenced backyard."
Because rules and regulations vary by municipality throughout the state, weed-friendly hotels in California are few and hard to find. That said, Desert Hot Springs Inn has officially listed “cannabis-friendly" on its website's list of amenities. The hotel also features natural mineral water from local hot springs piped into the hotel's courtyard pool and spa facilities.
Local mineral hot springs have been an attraction there since the 1940s, and Desert Hot Springs is California's official Spa City. Today, CBD oil can be infused into one of the hotel spa's menus of massage treatments for an added topical application of relaxation. When ready for a night on the town, the mid-century glamor of Palm Springs is only 15 minutes away.