A Lifted Travel Guide to Three Days in San Francisco
By: Jessica Nudo
Travel is my jam, but I rarely prepare a proper itinerary in advance. Given my travel blogger background, this is a true but embarrassing fact, and quite telling of my laissez-faire attitude.
I recently took a trip out the beautiful Bay Area to visit a friend in San Francisco for a short but exciting stay. When I wasn’t sleeping, eating or getting up to naughty activities, you could catch me getting lifted, climbing hills or doing both simultaneously. After only three days of the lather, rinse, repeat, I can say without hesitation that this is how Californians stay fit and joyous.
Now I just need to move there…
Given all the takeaways from this adventure, it would be a missed opportunity not to share the restaurants, dispensaries, vape lounges, iconic landmarks and other touristy hot spots that warmed my wintery heart and sun-kissed my casper-like Canadian epidermis. So here it is, packaged into a neat digital guide for you to enjoy. Oh, and did I mention there’s a map?!
Fun fact: most dispensaries are in or around Market Street and with careful planning, you could check 75% of them off this list in one swift swoop of an afternoon. So, pack your walking shoes, a couple of snacks and a hydro flask. You’re going on a San Francisco dispensary tour!
Stop numero uno was probably the most epic. Bougie doesn’t even begin to cover it. Oh, You fancy Moe Greens! This was the jaw-dropping experience I had been waiting for, and it did not disappoint. The high-roller, Vegas-inspired smoking lounge vibes were some kind of culture clash between the 1950s and present day. Whether you’re a refined traveller or just backpacking along your journey, all are welcome here.
We thought the bar was set pretty high after Moe Greens, but Grassroots delivered their own classic décor with old-time flair. While it’s located in the heart of the Tenderloin, you wouldn’t know it from the inside.
This was one of the few that I had heard about before I even booked the trip out west. The Apothecarium had come highly recommended by several friends and colleagues, so obviously it made the top of the list. Design-wise, it was gorgeous. Along with the bud tenders ‘bar’, there was a well-curated display of accessories, a library, seating lounge and an art display wall with pieces produced by local artists. I was disappointed with the lack of selection for low-dose, CBD-only vape cartridges and flower, but still managed to pick up a couple of edibles (which came in handy when we later went to High Tops).
Barbary Coast Dispensary
Serving patients since 2013, Barbary Coast is another that I couldn’t miss. In fact, my friend and host insisted that I make time to see it during my trip. As soon as I stepped in, it was clear that this place was created by the same team behind Moe Greens (you really can tell by the classic ‘cigar’ lounge leather, wood and brick interior). Do yourself a favour and visit the dab bar and hit it for me as well since time was of the essence and I had to bow out.
Another medical-turned recreational dispensary that boasts some great features, like a comprehensive menu and plentiful display which showcases more of SF’s popular weed brands. We picked up some infused beverages by Mood and drank them before heading to dinner in the Haight. While the bottle only read 10mg, I was high AF - and uncomfortably so.
Vapor Room wow-ed me with the clean, Scandinavian-inspired interior and display walls. This boutique is a cannabis lovers minimalist dream come true and I would go back in a heartbeat.
Located in the heart of Mission District, Medithrive is a cannabis dispensary and delivery shop that spins a refreshing modern twist on the shopping experience. Their bud bar stations are situated throughout the main floor and provide a well-lit peep into the buds available on their flower menu.
If a community-focused dispensary is something you’re curious about, SPARC is definitely a spot you’ll want to visit. It’s less bells and whistles and offers a more attractive price point than the others. I was feeling their volcano-inspired wifi flyer. Well played.
Tucked away behind Mission Street in Mission District, you will find Bloom Room. I must say the placement is pretty darn perfect considering there’s a Blue Bottle Coffee right next door - and it must be darn good because the lineup to enter was around the block! Of course, we know how well coffee and cannabis go together, so you can thank me later.
The majority of the dispensaries are located in and around Market Street, including The Castro, Civic Centre, Mission District and Tenderloin. Popular brands included: Gold Drop concentrates, Bloom Farms, Mood beverages, Candescent, and Papa & Barkley (which was literally everywhere!). Staff and security were always very friendly and helpful - and loved the fact that I was visiting from Canada. That whole ‘we legalized it’ convo isn’t getting old anytime soon. However, I was disappointed by the lack of knowledge regarding a few topics, namely the number of times that bud tenders referred to CBD as “non-psychoactive”, which I kindly corrected them on.
Restaurants + spiritual Shopping
Okay, so now that you’re probably feeling relatively lifted after walking up and down hill for the better part of the day, there’s a good chance that you’ve worked up an appetite. Well friends, there’s good news: San Francisco has an impressive food scene and I’ve included a few suggestions to get your munch-on.
If Filipino food is high on your list, Senior Sisig’s food truck came highly recommended to me, but was unfortunately (randomly) closed the day I passed by. You can find it around Market and 10th during lunch hour. Apparently their garlic fried rice is something to write home about.
While searching Yelp on an empty stomach, Gracias Madre was a recognizable option so we opted to nosh on some delicious Mexican food and splurged on $20 CBD cocktails. While we ate beyond our physical means, I’m proud of us for accepting the challenge. Clearly, our parents didn’t raise quitters.
Speaking of infused cocktails, Flore on Market is a must visit in The Castro, and it’s corner-placement on Market is great for people-watching.
As a plant-loving, crystal collecting hippy, this trip wouldn’t have been complete without a stroll through the place of origin for hippy counterculture, Haight-Ashbury. This brief yet awe-inspiring evening included tapas and drinks at The Alembic, followed by a shopping trip into what can only be described as the holy Mecca of spiritual paraphernalia, The Love of Ganesha. Safe to say it was overwhelming and real challenge to refrain from spending all the money on such beautiful and affordable crystals.
Parks and Recreation
Finding fun outdoor activities isn’t a chore in the Bay Area, especially when you’re surrounded by hills (best leg day, IMO). Whether you’re feeling coastal or city adventures (or both!), San Francisco has a whole lot to offer.
Sunset Beach & Golden Gate Park
Ride the MUNI out to the end of Sunset and go for a beachy stroll and unwind by the water. If you can catch it on a sunny day, why not plan it during…sunset? After your stroll along the beach, take in the beauty or the pan and the pan handle and a moment to admire the towering, majestic redwoods. While it seems much larger than it is, the 4.1 km² park features many hidden gems.
Golden Gate Bridge
We know, this one is a no-brainer, but it would be silly not to list it. It is to the west coast what the Brooklyn Bridge is to the east.
Alamo Park + Painted Ladies
The iconic landscape that us ‘80s kids recognize in an instant. The opening trailer to Full House, a TV show that wasn’t even filmed in San Francisco, forever looped in nostalgia. These beautiful victorian row houses are decorated in a complimentary colour palette that reflects the architectural beauty that this city in the Bay Area is known for. On a sunny day, this is the perfect place to hike around post-sesh. We heard Aunt Becky was in trouble, but she was nowhere to be found…
Located at the end of Mission District, Delores Park is something of an iconic landmark. This expansive green space hosts a diverse array of visitors, ranging from curious world travellers to locals, and it’s a popular recreation spot amongst the LGBTQ community.
Blue Markers: did not visit but came highly recommended
Purple Markers: dispensaries
Teal Martinis: eateries, drinkeries
Pink Squirrels: parks, hikes, outdoor activities