Boom or bust, San Francisco remains an iconic international destination. The majestic Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes the city's status as the home of many unique attractions, as well as a global hub for industry, commerce, technology, and culture.
Where else can you have Irish coffee in Fisherman's Wharf, dim sum in Chinatown, Mexican food in the Mission District, and fresh, farm-to-table five-star dining in the Financial District, followed by a nightcap in North Beach — all in one day?
Combine all that with the counterculture vibe, cultural diversity, coastal climate, and colorful history, and San Francisco is a must-see for most tourists from near or far. Travel and tourism operator Club Med declared San Francisco the fourth “happiest" travel destination in America for 2022. Add a bit of cannabis, and it could be your number one by far.
Travel and cannabis in San Francisco
Northern California's agricultural bounty has always been a rich resource for the city's elevated aesthetic, with everything to offer from regional farms to vast vineyards. So, it's only natural that legal cannabis is the latest connoisseur experience to bring added allure to Bay Area vacations.
After all, since the social revolution of the 1960s, some of the world's best cannabis has been grown in the Emerald Triangle, just three hours north of the city.
“We've experienced wine consumers who, when they come to California, have the desire to take a tour through Napa or Sonoma County with us. We're starting to see an uptick in those consumers that want to experience California cannabis, really in California. It's one experience that's very California, and it's very San Francisco," said Victor Pinho, founder of Emerald Farm Tours.
Here are some 420-friendly accommodations, destinations, and activities to try in San Francisco.
420-friendly hotels in San Francisco
Cannabis-friendly accommodations in San Francisco (and California) are largely short-term rentals that can be found online at booking platforms like HiBnB.com, BudandBreakfast.com, and Inndica.com. Vendors on conventional booking sites, like Airbnb, that welcome cannabis tourists will typically denote that they're “420-friendly."
Listings can be sparse, even in big, legal cities like San Francisco, as regulations and permitting for cannabis-friendly accommodations are just starting to be developed by local policymakers. The presence of nearby consumption lounges may alleviate some of the necessity for cannabis-friendly accommodations since they provide a permitted, legal space for public consumption.
Noe's Nest Hideaway
Accommodations in San Francisco include Noe's Nest Hideaway, centrally located in the city's desirable Noe Valley neighborhood, in a stately Victorian home among rows of old Vics and Edwardian architecture. The bed-and-breakfast allows outdoor consumption in a private backyard.
The Purple Room
In Duboce Triangle, adjacent to the better-known Castro District, there are accommodations at The Purple Room. This shared townhouse is conveniently located directly over the Flore Dispensary for what would be a most unique cannabis-friendly experience with WiFi, a big-screen TV, a full kitchen, board games, and a washer/dryer. Consumption is allowed on a private outdoor balcony and porch.
Conventional hotel accommodations that are also 420-friendly are hard to come by. Hotels that are rumored online to be cannabis-friendly often will not list any indication of being so on their websites or elsewhere. That's the case with San Francisco's Hotel Kabuki, located at 1625 Post Street. Previously a Joie de Vivre Hospitality property, the boutique hotel is now operated by Hyatt. Located near the Fillmore District, the Kabuki is hip, retro rock & roll-themed, and pet-friendly. Though cannabis consumption is not mentioned anywhere on the hotel's official website, the travel platform Trivago Magazine lists Hotel Kabuki as one of “eight great 420-friendly hotels in California" thanks to its large outdoor garden.
420-friendly destinations in San Francisco
If you're looking to do more with your West Coast cannabis than smoke a little weed and walk around the city, then check out these activities made for tourists and locals alike.
Emerald Farm Tours
In US cities with access to recreational cannabis, where rules and regulations for public consumption are evolving, cannabis touring companies like Emerald Farms are becoming more popular. They typically feature cross-promotions with local retailers and lounges, as well as cannabis-friendly venues and events.
3-hour bus tour
“If you come to San Francisco and you really want to experience the city with cannabis, then take the $195 3-hour bus tour. That's the most popular cannabis tour, which takes you to three dispensary lounges, some sightseeing, and pairings at a winery, where you get to do wine-tasting," Pinho said.
All-day tour with wine and weed
“If you want to delve deeper into it, then I recommend our whole day tour that takes you to the southern corner of the Emerald Triangle, to Anderson Valley, where we take you to a beautiful cannabis farm, and you can walk around and take pictures," he described.
Walking the Wharf Tour
“The Wharf Tour is a little lighter," Pinho added. “It's a walking tour — we start in Fisherman's Wharf, and it's not a far walk. We cover about a half-mile in two hours, so it's easy to do. Guests get to visit two dispensaries, hear about the sights, and it's good if you just want to get your feet wet and experience cannabis for a couple of hours while you're in the city."
Visit a Bay Area dispensary
Dispensaries can be found throughout all of the city's unique neighborhoods.
Seaweed SF and Stiiizy's
Aptly named Seaweed SF in Fisherman's Wharf is a cable car ride away from Stiiizy's branded flagship store in Union Square.
The Apothecarium, founded in 2011, has locations in The Castro and SOMA district and offers online and phone consultations.
Originally a medical cannabis dispensary during the Prop 215 days, The Vapor Room was one of the first consumption lounges in California. It was shut down by the feds in 2012 and is now back, located in the South of Market area.
Bloom Room in San Francisco is located near Union Square, Mint Plaza, and the Westfield Shopping Center.
Berner's on Haight
In the famously psychedelic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, visitors can find Berner's on Haight, the dispensary owned by hometown rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Berner.
The Cookies cannabis brand that Berner co-founded is well known for its proprietary strains and bright blue painted storefronts. New Age hippies and day-trippers can visit the dispensary and peruse the Haight's vintage vinyl and clothing stores, as well as local landmarks like Buena Vista Park and the old Victorian houses once occupied by the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.
Toke up at Moe Greens consumption lounge
Moe Greens is located at 1276 Market Street and is open daily. Established in 2019, the store features a consumption lounge where guests can purchase products to enjoy onsite, in addition to offering its regular retail and delivery options.
Wood-framed windows and exposed brick walls lined with green-upholstered banquettes and tables give the lounge's interior a speakeasy-type feel. “We built it out just like a normal bar at a restaurant," said Sean York, marketing director at Moe Greens. "You can pull up on Friday, and it gets pretty packed. People are talking, like at a normal bar. It's a very popular thing because it's unique, not only in San Francisco but just unique in general."
A special feature at Moe Greens is a dab bar, where customers can consume a variety of cannabis concentrates using state-of-the-art dabbing equipment like the Puffco Peak or Zenco Flow. Specially trained dab bartenders help consumers choose concentrates and assist with equipment usage.
“You know, we have the Orpheum [Theater] and a lot of other cool things to see around here. A lot of people come in before the symphony or concerts at the Bill Graham [Civic Auditorium], and they'll do a dab or some flower and enjoy the weekend."
Like most lounges, Moe Green's offers a full roster of events for guests that includes live music, comedy nights, drag brunches, and open mics. York said they've hosted a lot of different activities and also cater to crowds of visitors that come to San Francisco for big sports and entertainment events. Maybe no surprise, with such close proximity to the world's largest tech corporations, York said that the lounge's most popular event is their gaming and dabs night.
Celebrate 4/20 at Hippy Hill
As events go, there is none bigger for cannabis enthusiasts than April 20. The unofficial stoner holiday was actually born across the bay from San Francisco, in the neighboring town of San Rafael. As the urban legend goes, a group of high schoolers in the 1970s would meet at 4:20 pm for afternoon smoke sessions, and the time evolved into a secret code for their sesh activities.
For tourists with cannabis at the top of their bucket lists, the 4/20 Festival at Hippy Hill held in Golden Gate Park is an unrivaled opportunity to experience the ultimate social cannabis experience. Prior to the pandemic in 2019, 19,000 attended the celebration on Hippy Hill, overlooking Robin Williams Meadow.
After a pandemic hiatus, the festival returned in 2022 with the first sales of legal cannabis products happening at the event.