Mendocino County is looking to become ta haven for the “canna-cation”. Just as wine turned the state into a tourism hotspot, legal cannabis and tourism-related experiences could turn Northern California into the top destination for ‘cannabis therapy’ focused vacations.
A key player in Northern California’s legendary Emerald Triangle, Visit Mendocino County stands ready to showcase its world-class cannabis. Due to the region’s unique land and diverse microclimates – the county’s cannabis and CBD products – coupled with Trinity and Humboldt counties – represent the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States. Not surprisingly, cannabis is Mendocino County’s top cash crop, ringing in at $131 million with 118 hectares of licensed cultivation.
Whether seeking to reconnect, ramp up wellness, boost creativity or chill in an ancient grove of redwoods, cannabis-related tourism is on the uptick. Travelers are seeking out more than just a novel dispensary. Like the wine enthusiast hooked on VIP vineyard tours, estate tastings, wine education and food and beverage pairings, cannabis lovers want experiences that are equally alluring, especially paired when with luxury offerings that differentiate a destination.
A wealth of activities and stays around cannabis
Consequently, the county is offering a wealth of cannabis-related activities. Starting with education, Willits is home to the Cannabis Culture Museum, offering 50+ years of insight and curiosities highlighting the ancient use of marijuana as medicine, hemp culture, cannabis counter culture among others.
Two new tours give visitors an inside look into the legacy cultivation and offer a solid schooling on what makes this region’s crop so spectacular. The Northern California Cannabis Tour’s Mendocino Experience offers a 4-hour guided tour that dips deep into the Redwood Valley with a visit to a fully-operating sun-grown cannabis farm and heirloom cultivation nursery. Participants will meet the master grower and enjoy an afternoon of bud-tasting by the koi ponds while wandering among the crops.
Many hotels and resorts in the region are also offering cannabis-forward stays. The MacCallum House offers a private deck and spa set in the village of Mendocino. Here, the “Everything But the Bud” package includes all the necessary equipment – along with a delivery service – and the freedom to enjoy in an elevated hot tub. In Hopland, The Thatcher Hotel, with its contemporary minimalist décor works with the MendoCann dispensary which offers a selection of top-grade locally-grown cannabis.
Tucked in Philo, surrounded by vineyards and towering redwoods, the Madrones and Brambles hit the sweet spot when it comes to a “canna-cation” with a culinary slant during a micro-dosed seven-course meal. The Cannabis Tasting & Tour Weekends include a private tour to the legacy five-acre Sugar Hill farm, lodging and a cannabis-forward repast curated by San Francisco chef Bronson Macomber of Plato Verde Social Club.
Another destination is Yokayo Ranch in Ukiah. Here a cannabis-forward private retreat awaits with three types of lodgings – a 1950s Main House, Bunk House and Pool Cabanas – make for a comfortable stay for 29 guests. The property includes the working Yokayo Roots Farm, a salt water pool, hot tub, alfresco fire-pit and kitchen among others. Combining cannabis pleasures and nature, the Emerald Triangle’s Cannabis Friendly Tent Camping site is ideal for an extended friends reconnect or “hiking-while-high” forest bathing enthusiasts.
The return of California’s “Flower Power” legend?
While it could look choking to some authorities around the world to officially promote cannabis, some tourism experts in the USA consider the seed as a future high potential income for the industry.
Forbes magazine estimates cannabis tourism is now a US$1.7 billion industry and California’s “bud basket” is ripe for the taking. Legal cannabis sales in the USA are now projected to hit $37 billion in 2024, according to Marijuana Business Daily publication.
“With 68% of Americans supporting adult use and half of millennials noting access to legal recreational cannabis as important when choosing a vacation destination,” explains Travis Scott, executive director of Visit Mendocino County. “Luring this new market is key to smoking the competition.”
For tourists to California, the tour in Mendocino County could easily be linked with a cultural escapade in San Francisco around Haight Ashbury district, the cradle of the legendary “Flower Power” movement.