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Palm Springs Is California’s Smoking-Hot Cannabis Tourist Destination

December 28, 2017

It’s high season in the Coachella Valley—for tourism and for cannabis.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

The Coachella Valley is one of your best bets for a cannabis getaway this weekend. It's sunny, it's Palm Springs, and it's ready for adult-use retail.

If you want to visit California this weekend for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley—in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs—is one of your best bets for a cannabis getaway.

It’s sunny and warm, it’s Palm Springs, and it’s open for business, unlike other weekender destinations—San Francisco, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe—that won’t open their adult-use cannabis stores for another week or so.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, and alternative lifestylers 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • Massive local cultivation
  • The most adult-use cannabis stores per capita in California
  • Cannabis-friendly lodgings throughout the Valley
  • Opportunities for stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park*

Where to Purchase

Cathedral City (population: 54,056) has 12 medicinal dispensaries, many of which will be open for adult-use sales on Jan. 1. Here are the latest confirmed adult-use openings in Cathedral City:

Cathedral City Cathedral City Care Collective 36633 Cathedral Canyon Drive (760) 832-6417 Jan 1
Cathedral City Cathedral City Care Collective North 28201 Date Palm Drive (760) 832-6417 Jan 1
Cathedral City Green Cross Pharma 68730 Summit Drive (760) 832-7194 Jan 1
Cathedral City HOTN Cultivation Co. 68945 Vista Chino (760) 832-7614 Jan 1
Cathedral City Mother Earth’s Farmacy 36633 Cathedral Canyon Drive (760) 832-8348 Jan 1
Cathedral City No Wait Meds 68860 Ramon Road (760) 333-1338 Jan 1
Cathedral City P&S Ventures 36380 Bankside Drive Jan 1
Cathedral City West Coast Cannabis Club 68828 Ramon Road (760) 689-2582 Jan 1

Desert Hot Springs (population: 28,492) has 8 medicinal dispensaries. Here are the latest confirmed adult-use recreational cannabis sales openings in Desert Hot Springs:

Desert Hot Springs Deserts Finest 12106 Palm Drive (833) GET-KUSH Jan 1
Desert Hot Springs Green Pearl 64949 Mission Lakes Boulevard (760) 894-3146 Jan 1

Palm Springs (population: 47,689) has 6 medicinal dispensaries. Here are the latest confirmed adult-use recreational cannabis sales openings in Palm Springs:

Palm Springs Desert Organic Solutions 19486 Newhall Street (760) 288-4000 Jan. 1

Know Your Grow

It’s not just retail. A number of companies are expanding their operations in the Coachella Valley, including:

  • Canndescent, the first large-scale grower licensed in California. Canndescent started growing in Desert Hot Springs in September 2016. The company’s branded buds, joints, and Orange Box collections are sold throughout the Coachella Valley.
  • The Coachella Valley Patients Collective of Desert Hot Springs, which plans to operate the largest indoor growing facility in California, tapping out at nearly 400,000 square feet. The collective broke ground on the facility in September 2017.
  • Cultivation Technologies, another large-scale grower, broke ground in June on a 111,500-square-foot facility in Coachella. They plan to launch a local brand of cannabis, Coachella Premium, in 2018.

    Canndescent’s flower boxes: State of the art product & packaging, available at many Valley adult-use stores.

Shopping Tips: It’s Hot Out There

  • Stay hydrated in the desert with CBD-infused water. Look for Holy Hemp Water and CBD Living Water.
  • Stay protected against the desert sun. Many local cannabis stores carry cannabis-infused lotions and sunscreens.

Where to Stay

  • Cannabis-Friendly AirBnB Rentals, Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Joshua Tree and Idyllwild. One Coachella Valley property rental company manages 11 cannabis-friendly houses and apartment rentals. From $99-$699 per night.
  • The O Resort & Spa, Desert Hot Springs. The old resort’s new management is cannabis friendly—just don’t smoke or vape in the room, please. The clothing-optional mineral baths are popular with Europeans. 13 rooms, $79-$149 per night, or rent the whole place for $1,999.
  • Desert Hot Springs Inn, Desert Hot Springs. Cannabis-friendly mineral hot springs allows guests to smoke on the property and book CBD-oil massages. $159-$279 per night.
  • Living Waters Spa, Desert Hot Springs. There’s a table on the deck set aside for cannabis smokers at this clothing-optional resort that’s popular with Europeans. From $169-$219 per night.
  • Hicksville Pines Chalet & Lodge, Idyllwild. There’s a cannabis-themed room equipped with a vaporizer in this colorful, cannabis-friendly property high up in the San Jacinto Mountains, an hour’s drive west of Palm Springs. Room 420 is $100 per night, others are $100-$250 per night.

Where to Play

  • Stargaze at Joshua Tree National Park. Take a jacket, a chair, water and whatever stash and snacks you need* and enjoy in-your-face views of the Milky Way and other awesome astro events.
  • Fly high, rotate and hike. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ascends 2 1/2 miles up the San Jacinto Mountains—rotating 360-degrees during the 10-minute climb an hour’s drive west of Palm Springs. Skip the touristy restaurants and gift shop at the top and enjoy hiking more than 50 miles of pristine wilderness trails at 8,500 feet. Enjoy the ride down, too.

Where to Eat

  • King’s Highway Diner & Amigo Room at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs. Orange County taco king Carlos Salgado goes big on his intimate homage to his Mexican heritage, expanding into upscale comfort fare like chicken confit and carrot tamales, plus burgers, sandwiches and tacos utilizing Coachella Valley ingredients like cactus, grapefruit and dates.
  • Azúcar Restaurant and Bar, Palm Springs. Inside La Serena Villas hotel, Azucar is visually inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and spices its culinary offerings with Mediterranean flavors.

    How to Get There

Upcoming Events

Also: Palm Springs has approved cannabis social lounges. They’re not open yet, but stay tuned.

*Cannabis is, of course, illegal within the boundaries of all national parks, regardless of state law. So please plan accordingly and stay legal. 
Ed Murrieta's Bio Image
Ed Murrieta

Ed Murrieta is a veteran lifestyle journalist and multimedia producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Cannabist, Wired.com, Leafly, and broadcast on the syndicated public radio show The Splendid Table.

View Ed Murrieta's articles