MENDOCINO: Retired Hippies’ Heaven
Never has the tie-dyed dream of traveling back roads in a vintage Volkswagen bus been more palpable than when turning off Highway 101 onto Highway 128 wending west, where the landscape turns to grapevines and farm houses. Yes, this is Mendocino County wine country, and as the axiom asserts — where wine grows, weed grows — it’s also cannabis country. Seeds of cannabis tourism have been planted here and will mature over time like wine. — Ed Murrieta
Discover medical cannabis dispensaries whether you drive to Mendocino by coastal Highway 1 or inland Highway 101. Mendocino’s must-hit dispensaries are Emerald Pharms and Mendocino Organics, both in Hopland. Located at the Solar Living Center (itself a destination for off-the-grid growers), Emerald Pharms is partially solar powered but that’s not its most shining quality; local heirloom genetics and a big selection of CBD-rich cannabis products are. Bring your vaporizer or purchase a vape pen: Emerald Pharm allows non-smoking consumption on its deck. (Ask a budtender whether solar hits — igniting bud with light from the sun aimed through a magnifying glass — equal smoking.) Mendocino Organics specializes its name and local artisan concentrates. In Mendocino Village, Leonard Moore Co-Op is a boutique-like experience. Love-In-It features house-grown genetics, including good-for-your-body, easy-on-your-mind Jamaican Lambsbread. On the coast, High Tides in Gualala and Herban Legend in Fort Bragg are your options.
Local, organic and reasonably priced. Not vegetables. Pot. Local events producers Terroir Mendocino hosts the monthly 215 Farmers Market in Mendocino Village, featuring flowers, clones, concentrates and edibles. North and inland in Laytonville, Healing Harvest farms runs a monthly cannabis-and-produce farmers market from spring through fall. Driving from Napa or Sacramento, arrive in Mendocino via Lake County to the southeast and visit the modest 215 Farmers Exchange at Good Karma Growers Collective in Lucerne. Valid doctor’s recommendation and ID required at all locations.
Come back after Terroir Mendocino’s 215 Farmers Market for dinners featuring cannabis fusion cuisine from local chefs. Perhaps you’d rather center yourself before a plate of vegan Buddhist dumplings in the restaurant at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the spiritual school and retreat located on the grounds of the former Mendocino mental hospital? Like the fare and decor of this simple restaurant that helps fund City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, dumplings contain no onion or garlic, recipes said to keep your consciousness clear — handy on this trip, in case you smoke too much pot. Boonville Hotel serves local food family-style.
JUST ADD WATER
Those CBD-rich edibles and tinctures you bought at Emerald Pharms pair soothingly with the waters at both Orr Hot Springs and Vichy Hot Springs in Ukiah.
You may want to seriously consider the VW (or maybe an RV) when you learn the only cannabis-friendly commercial bed and breakfast in Mendocino (and California) closed last year. Alas, a local cannabis grower who’s investing in other tourist-oriented interests operates word-of-mouth-only, no-money-exchanged-for-cannabis bud and breakfast inns on three of his four pot farms. He plans to open the inns for business next year. Otherwise, Apple Farm in Philo is not a cannabis destination but offers the country setting and cottage comforts that go together like pot and apple pie. And just dream of taking edibles cooking lessons in Apple Farm’s gleaming commercial-grade kitchen. New Mendocino Campground, two miles from Mendocino Village, just finished its first season of high-end tent-and-real-beds camping on the beach and will resume glamping in the spring.
MENDO @ HOME
Take home the trimmings of Mendocino’s cannabis harvest. Take home Mendocino olive oil. Infuse the former into the later. Bake batches of your Mendocino pot weekend vacation memories into your next homemade edibles. Pour your own Stella Cadente Olive Oil from European-style olive oil bars inside Boont Berry Farm and Philo Ridge Tasting Room in Boonville, Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah and Harvest Market in Fort Bragg.
The Aficionados’ Treat
California’s most sophisticated city promises the Golden State’s most sophisticated cannabis travel experience. Chic dispensaries, high-quality cannabis, smoking and vaping lounges, pot-paired dinners, edibles cooking classes and ganja yoga all available to visitors with valid medical cannabis recommendations. Plus all the general tourist attractions — restaurants, museums, shopping, big-city energy — that make San Francisco a world-class travel destination without weed.
Retired Hippies’ Heaven
Never has the tie-dyed dream of traveling back roads in a vintage Volkswagen bus been more palpable than when turning off Highway 101 onto Highway 128 wending west, where the landscape turns to grapevines and farm houses. Yes, this is Mendocino County wine country, and as the axiom asserts — where wine grows, weed grows — it’s also cannabis country. Seeds of cannabis tourism have been planted here and will mature over time like wine.
Firing Up Foodies
You think you’ve tasted Humboldt County? Clear your throat and try again. Humboldt’s farm-to-toke reputation overshadows its farm-to-fork roots — but behold grass-fed beef and grass-fed dairy; field-to-glass craft distilleries, cideries and breweries; single-origin drinking chocolates; and Humboldt Bay bivalves that account for 70 percent of California oysters.
The Outdoorsman’s Oasis
You’re midway into a 590-nautical-mile run down the Pacific from Seattle to San Francisco aboard your Tayana 37 sloop. Before you tackle Cape Mendocino, pull into the safe harbor of Humboldt Bay. Not a sailor? Bring or rent toys for paddling, surfing, rafting, biking and hiking. Take a pack-mule trip. Heck, just find naked swimming holes in any of the county’s six rivers. Humboldt’s a bounty of adventure — especially if you stray into the wrong pot patch.
Girls’ Spa Weekend
Don’t let the lack of an actual cannabis spa in the Bay Area keep you and your BFFs from enjoying a cannabis spa weekend. DIY and BYO, girls. Load up on body-soothing edibles, topicals and frozen raw cannabis juice shots. Check into a four-star spa. Hike the Headlands. Soak up Sausalito. Book a private cannabis products demo for you and your besties.
For the Bros
If the Rat Pack (and not just Peter Lawford) had been stoners, it would be all buds and bros in Tahoe today. Wait — it is, bro. Grab your goggles and go for solar hits and back-country boarding; ganja-fueled gambling; Nevada dispensaries and brothels; and a free haircut if you’re lucky.
Perfect for The Parents
Sacramento is a political town, but even cannabis regulation and taxation take back seats to the interest in the Kings’ new downtown arena. The city’s culinary scene sizzles and beckons even San Francisco food critics. To spark your appetite for Sacramento’s farm-to-fork fare, or to quell the nauseating hype of the new arena, medical cannabis patients can smoke throughout the state capital’s walkable and bikeable downtown neighborhoods — even on the Capitol steps. Stick to the city core and you may not need a car.