SACRAMENTO: 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. — Ed Murrieta
Sacramento dispensaries fit every style and budget. Some of the best are clustered in the trendy, tree-lined Midtown area. For a wellness-minded experience in a classic Sacramento craftsman a short walk from a manicured city park rose garden, visit A Therapeutic Alternative. For connoisseur-quality genetics, visit Abatin Wellness. For a cannabis flowers and concentrates of the quality you’ll find in San Francisco, Northstar Holistic Collective calls. For a dose of what corner-market-style legal retail pot might look like, All About Wellness is the place. You’ll likely score some first-timer freebies — joints, grams, low-quality edibles.
There are no dispensary smoking lounges in Sacramento but California’s capital — and the state Capitol itself — brims with opportunities to burn one. In California, you can smoke medical cannabis where cigarettes are allowed. All those designated smoking areas outside downtown state buildings — and on the steps of the Capitol building — aren’t just for state workers and their cigarettes. You can jump aboard a downtown pedicab sponsored by local dispensary All About Wellness — but it’s illegal to light up when the pedicab’s rolling.
Sacramento has no shortage of smoke-friendly lodgings, not all of them Motel 6. Amber House Bed and Breakfast features a cannabis-friendly smoking garden and two private smoking balconies attached to rooms in two vintage houses in tree-lined Midtown. Overlooking the Sacramento River in the golden shadow of Tower Bridge near Old Sacramento, Embassy Suites offers four smoking rooms on the third floor. If you can get through the weekend on edibles, Sacramento Hostel is non-smoking, fabulously historic and offers guests use of its full kitchen.
Rent a bike and pedal the American River Parkway, a riparian corridor that wends 30 miles from Old Sacramento to historic Folsom, passing Cal Expo, CSU Sacramento, Lake Natomas and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, Ride part or all of the paved path; ride light rail back downtown. Riverside smoking opportunities abound.
Sacramento boasts of being the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America, where even the new arena’s hot dogs are locally sourced and sustainable. Ella and Grange are elegant takes on the trend. Empress Tavern has enough meat on its menu to cover for its nearby vegetarian sister cafe, the lunch-only Mother. Ordering is confusing at South, but fried chicken is the crystal-clear favorite. For Japanese, Kru’s chef has a rock-star rep. For great food without the farm-to-fork fanfare (and few millennials), Waterboy, California-French and tres grown up, is for you. Not far from Sacramento’s farmers-market-under-the-freeway is Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic church where on Sundays a pop-up festival of food vendors — menudo, tamales, tacos, tortas, churros and duros — spills from the church’s dining hall into the street facing Southside Park.
Like seemingly every other mid-sized city in America waking up to the movement, Sacramento is awash in craft breweries. Midtown’s Rubicon is Sacramento’s oldest. Bike Dog is worth a short trip over the Tower Bridge to an industrial section of West Sacramento. Device Brewing and New Glory are near each other and are two more reasons to venture beyond the downtown-Midtown grid. Track 7 is the other. While you can’t smoke on downtown pedicabs, you can drink on Sacramento’s dozen-passenger beer bikes that roam Midtown. For third-wave coffee downtown, Temple, Insight and Chocolate Fish are on fleek.
Sacramento is a hotbed of pot comedy. Local pot comic and activist Ngaio Bealum performs often at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sacramento. Bealum’s got his own brand of Blueberry buds from OrganiCann Natural Cannabis Company; look for it at Two Rivers, a dispensary just beyond downtown near Sacramento’s homeless badlands. Los Angeles-based comedian Doug Benson is a regular at the Punchline, in the suburbs near Cal Expo. Touring pot comics play both venues. Two joint minimums? Not even funny. Yet.
Two tasty Thiebauds — pies and cakes — grace the permanent collection of significant California paintings at the Crocker Art Museum, one of the West’s small gems. Robert Arneson’s stoned chef bust sculpture features an in-joke oven baked right in. Check out the dreamy, farmy mural painted on the belly of the freeway above the Sunday farmers market, then fly by the Royal Chicano Air Force’s multicultural mural adorning the bandstand at Southside Park. Stroll galleries, shops and cafes on tree-lined Midtown streets during Second Saturday art festivals. The public commons area of Sacramento’s new downtown arena features a controversial piece of public art: an $8 million sculpture of the Winnie the Pooh character Piglet by international artist Jeff Koons.
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.