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Travel

Cannabis Tourism Guide: The Ultimate U.S. Cannabis Road Trip

Sheldon Sommer

by Sheldon Sommer

June 14, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 10 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
Cannabis Tourism Guide: The Ultimate U.S. Cannabis Road Trip

With 24 legal states to choose from (more for medical card holders), it is easy to feel overwhelmed with options when traveling for cannabis tourism. Rather than choosing a single destination for your cannabis vacation, you can instead take a road trip and hit multiple different exciting cannabis-friendly spots in one journey!

With this guide, you will get tips on how to prepare for your road trip, and we will provide some interesting locations to consider visiting along the way. Destinations were chosen because they are well-ranked as cannabis tourism hotspots that also feature a variety of other popular landmarks and vibrant sights to explore while you enjoy sampling the local cannabis offerings. 

Tips before you get started: 

  1. Water: Pack a lot of it. The journey can be long, and you do not want to find yourself dehydrated in the middle of nowhere. It’s just a safe thing to do. Pack more of it than you think you will need.
  2. Plan your route: You should write out a list of where you want to stop in order, so you can quickly look up directions from one destination to the next and not miss anything. Organize (roughly) how much time you will want to spend at each place and how much driving time you will need each day.
  3. Note that it is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis: Because of cannabis’ status as a federally illegal drug, you cannot transport cannabis over state borders, even between legal states. To avoid breaking the law, make sure you do not buy more products in one state than you can consume before heading to the next one, and stay informed about where your borders will be. 
  4. Look up the laws about keeping cannabis in the car for different states: Some states, like Connecticut, only allow cannabis to be stored in sealed containers in the car’s trunk, while other states will allow cannabis to be kept sealed anywhere in the car. There are also states where a passenger can consume cannabis or where you can smoke in a parked car, so do some research into the local laws of your destinations. 
  5. Keep in mind the time of year: New England can be stunning in the fall, but the beach towns will likely be deserted. If you want to see the sun in Seattle, the best time to go is June to August. You might want to try to catch the wildflower season in SoCal during the spring. It can be exciting to plan all your stops and sightseeing, but if you don’t keep climate in mind, you might end up spending your winter break stuck in the snow rather than blazed on the road.
  6. For medical card holders: Certain states allow you to make purchases at medical-use dispensaries using an out-of-state medical cannabis card.
  7. Don’t feel like you need to see every place on this list: Plan your road trip however you want based on your time, budget, and favorite sights! If your favorite city didn’t make the list, you can always plan it into your route. 

West Coast

From the Emerald City to the Emerald Triangle, the West Coast is seen as a haven for cannabis culture. Try out some of these stops on your journey through the Pacific Northwest and the glorious Golden Coast, and immerse yourself in the cannabis hype and history that expands from Seattle to San Diego. 

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  • Seattle, WA: With a relatively long history of legalization, Washington’s market is nearly as old as Colorado’s. The Emerald City has a variety of exciting options for sightseeing and cannabis retail. But uniquely, Seattle’s local cannabis culture has made the city an excellent spot for cannabis-friendly hotels, Air BNBs, and other lodging options, where users can enjoy their enticing new local products without having to sneak around the parking lot. 
  • Portland, OR: Portland’s cannabis scene is known for a remarkable abundance of events for cannabis enthusiasts. You can find cannabis-themed festivals,  markets, educational seminars, and networking events, so whatever your interests are in the industry, Portland will have an event for you. Such events allow people to come together and create a sense of community where people with similar interests can exchange knowledge, collaborate on ideas, form lasting friendships, and celebrate a shared passion for cannabis. Portland is also home to cannabis-friendly lounges and cafes where local cannabis enthusiasts gather to socialize and relax. 
  • Sacramento, CA: Sacramento, the capital city of California, has become a hotspot for cannabis enthusiasts. Locals can purchase premium cannabis from the city’s plentiful retail locations at the most affordable prices in the nation, with a high-quality ounce costing around $106 less than the average. Even more, Sacramento is home to a variety of cannabis-friendly events and festivals. 
  • Los Angeles, CA: A vibrant metropolis brimming with museums, top dining options, sunny beach piers, and world-class amusement parks, Los Angeles is its own adventure. On top of its myriad of cultural and natural sights, Los Angeles is the largest legalized city in the nation, offering cannabis enthusiasts unique experiences and sophisticated dispensaries. You can try out the reopened Original Cannabis Café, which offers diners pre-rolls and blunts alongside a selection of infused foods. And the emerging consumption-lounge scene in West Hollywood is a must-try, with options including a three-story restaurant/consumption lounge/bar called PleasureMed and Woody Harrelson’s urban oasis, The Woods. 
  • San Diego, CA: If you want the SoCal cannabis vibe without the hustle found in LA, then San Diego is the place to be. In San Diego, you will find no shortage of opportunities to buy high-quality products while you take in the city’s assortment of astonishing vistas, beaches, and parks. For the cannabis enthusiast looking for more of a laid-back experience, San Diego is an ideal space to try out local products surrounded by chill vibes and unmatched scenery.

New England and New York

While much of the East Coast still lacks legalized recreational cannabis, its reach is expanding. There is a variety of notable cities and stops along the way that now allow you to purchase marijuana products and legally consume them within city limits, and many of them offer exciting cannabis-themed tourist sites as well.

  • Portland, ME: Maine has more than lobsters, lighthouses, and breweries. With cannabis dispensaries growing in number every day, Portland is your stop to take in some of the food and coastal views the city is known for while enjoying your cannabis purchases. Stop by the quirky Meowy Jane dispensary for a classy, kitty-cat-themed experience. 
  • Burlington, VT: If you want a scenic New England drive, try a trip to this seemingly quaint destination in Vermont. The Green State boasts a strong commitment to supporting local growers. So, instead of shelves stocked with a limited variety of strains from in-house brands, Vermont dispensaries intend to feature more small farms and their various products and cultivars.
  • Boston, MA: From arts and culture to athletics, Boston boasts some top-notch offerings. You can visit the CORE cannabis dispensary, which also features a cannabis museum guests can tour for free. Or check out New Dia, the cannabis “mall” at Fenway Park. As for sightseeing, the city is home to the campuses of Harvard, MIT, and Boston University, among others, or you can wander around Boston Common before making your way to the New England Aquarium, where you can delight in underwater friends while stoned. 
  • New York, NY: New York City’s reputation almost goes without saying. This iconic metropolis is bustling with world-class offerings in food, entertainment, city lights, people-watching, and now, well-curated dispensaries found throughout the city. A major perk about New York cannabis tourism is that you can smoke cannabis anywhere it is permissible to smoke tobacco, with some restrictions, but this differs from most other states where any form of public consumption is prohibited. Although the city had a rocky start with the initial rollout of legalization, do some research and you may uncover cannabis speakeasies (like La Fleur), dinner parties (such as the swanky 99th floor), group activities, or even crafting clubs.

Crossing the Map

If you feel up to the challenge, you could also connect these two coastal journeys with an excursion across the entire map for a full tour of the nation’s cannabis offerings. Here are some cities that would make good stops for the cannabis road tripper looking to take a national tour. 

  • Las Vegas, NV: From the second you reach the airport, you will see cannabis kiosks and begin the dive into Sin City’s legal cannabis cornucopia. Most notably, cannabis enthusiasts must visit Planet 13, the world’s largest dispensary. The 112,000-square-foot shop is open 24/7 and offers shuttles to take visitors to the store at any time of day. This is just one store among many other great options in Las Vegas. And of course, you will want to hit up the iconic Strip, where the dazzling lights and wacky people-watching is all you need. If you are looking for more, there is a seemingly endless list of shows, top restaurants, casinos, spas, clubs, and venues to choose from.
  • Boulder, CO: Colorado legalized recreational consumption in 2012, but Boulder’s progressive cannabis culture goes back decades. In Boulder, you can join cannabis-friendly yoga classes, treat yourself to a cannabis-infused massage, or stay at one of the town’s smoke-friendly hotels. Boulder is a sunny and outdoorsy getaway for those looking to immerse themselves in Colorado’s cannabis culture without the big-city feel you’ll find in Denver. 
  • Denver, CO: Ranked as 2024’s number-one city for cannabis enthusiasts in the nation, Denver reigns above the rest. Denver is home to nearly four times as many retail locations per capita as Los Angeles and is also home to the Mile High 420 Festival – the world’s largest free cannabis-friendly festival. Whether you enjoy fine dining, shows at Red Rocks, or scenic hiking trails, you will have a unique and vibrant cannabis adventure in Denver. 
  • Ann Arbor, MI: Although Michigan just legalized recreational cannabis in 2020, Ann Arbor has a history of cultivating cannabis that spans back five decades. This small, arty college town boasts the state’s largest concentration of dispensaries, which include the Exclusive Ann Arbor Marijuana and Cannabis Dispensary and the 3Fifteen Cannabis Dispensary. If you time your trip right, you might see the city’s annual Hash Bash, which was historically a cannabis-activism gathering for hula-hoopers where the city’s (already lenient) penalties for possession would be virtually nonexistent for one day. Although possession is now legal, Hash Bash is still a thing, so maybe pack a hula hoop.

We have come a long way, and now the journey continues with you! Whether you have a lot of vacation time or just a weekend away, there is an abundance of wonderful cities to see and explore the local cannabis scene, even outside this list. If your favorite city wasn’t mentioned, make sure to visit it when you plot your own course. Happy travels!

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