Northern California is home to some of the artsiest cities in the US. The following are the best high art walks they’ve sparked, from San Francisco and San Jose to Oakland and Sacramento—even all the way over in Placerville.
You’ll want to crank up Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco as you stroll the sidewalks at First Thursday. A tradition since 1993, this art walk has become a lasting and welcome staple in this ever-expanding, tech-forward city. Duck into the Bloom Room at the heart of it all and spend some time in their Vapor Lounge for a quick session with friends before you hit the streets. If you need a pick-me-up, pop around the corner to Blue Bottle Coffee on Jessie St. for some fresh, gourmet pastries and a cup of comforting Bella Donovan.
Date: First Thursdays, year-round
Time: All day
Parallel to the magnetic San Jose Museum of Art occurs the small yet intriguing First Friday art walk. Don’t let its modest size fool you—San Jose’s favorite excuse to get outside caters to a variety of creative enthusiasts, particularly by way of its Street Mrkt, where artists and creative vendors congregate. You’ll even find unexpected venues such as Third Space Fitness getting in on the event. Get your hands on a creative gram or two of White Widow and get down with a little yoga before viewing some mentally stimulating displays.
Date: First Fridays, year-round
Oakland’s First Fridays are a celebratory affair packed with music, art, food, and culture—at its monthly events, the air is alive with creativity and movement, and it’s only fitting to join in with a full vape and an elevated mind. Load up on a buzzy, energizing sativa like Strawberry Cough to really get into the street party experience this art walk offers. Save some room for dessert at Endless Summer Sweets where you can order a sweet-tooth-quelling funnel cake topped with powdered sugar and caramelized bananas, and to end it all on a high note, keep your eyes peeled for those “secret” alleyway galleries and surprise shows that finish out the night.
Date: First Fridays, year-round
California’s capitol isn’t just a historical landmark—it’s also a buzzy, creative scene with plenty of amusing galleries and hotspots. Before you hit up the designated art walk streets, take an afternoon to observe all of the incredible murals found on buildings and structures sprinkled throughout the city (we adore this colorful glitch art piece by John Horton on Crocker & Crocker). Then roll up a joint of happy Kali Mist, take a turn down 18th Street, and connect with your inner child at the Art of Toys—look for the Kaleidoscope Collection and get lost in a sea of color.
Date: Second Saturdays, year-round
Just outside of Sacramento at the heart of a quaint yet gorgeous mountain town, the main streets of Placerville play host to some fabulous local art. These sidewalks aren’t only dedicated to paint and canvas; you’ll find everything from flower baskets to stagecoach rides. A relaxed environment like this deserves some relaxed and euphoric cannabis: Load up a pipe with a cool indica-leaning hybrid like Hollywood OG to get your mind loosened up and completely de-stressed before taking in myriad oil paintings, floral displays, drawings, and much more. Also, did we mention that the stagecoach rides are free? Just imagine sinking into a cushy seat and getting driven around those lovely streets without a care in the world. If that doesn’t get you to Placerville, we don’t know what will.
Date: Third Saturdays, year-round