The Best Things to Do While High in D.C.: Leafly’s 4:20 to 4:20 Cannabis Travel Guide

Published on April 22, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Welcome to Leafly’s travel series, our definitive 24-hour cannabis-infused guides to the best cities in the world.

Walking through the nation’s capital is a beautiful experience no matter what. You’re surrounded by history and monuments and incredible architecture, and it can be overwhelming to even know where to start. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered. Since the District of Columbia legalized the possession and personal use of cannabis in 2015, the Capital seems to glow brighter than ever, and the options for a fantastic 420-friendly experience are nigh endless.

D.C. Vitals

Cannabis legality: Recreational (personal growing & possession of up to two ounces allowed; no legal sales permitted). Caveat: Cannabis’s continued federal illegality means you can technically be arrested for possession on federal lands, which make up a good portion of Washington, D.C., so be smart about what you bring to places like the National Mall.

Nicknames: The District, The Beltway, DMV

Population: 658,893

Pop culture claim to fame:House of Cards

For the record: Dancing is not permitted at the Jefferson Memorial (save it for the 9:30 Club).

Day One

Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

At 4:20 p.m., you are: Walking out of Takoma Wellness Center, having procured an oil cartridge for your portable vape pen, a Blue Cheese pre-roll for sleepy indica times later on, and a bottle of sativa tincture to keep you energized throughout your journey. Hop on the Metro and head for the U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo station.

Take note: Cannabis laws in D.C. permit possession, but don’t account for a legal system of cannabis sales, so businesses like Takoma operate in limbo. Alternate options include ordering from similarly gray-area delivery services like High Speed (where a side of cannabis may accompany an order of cold-pressed juice depending on your optional donation), and making friends with a local home grower.

Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C.

By 5:30 p.m., you are: At 14th and V Street in the historic U Street Corridor exiting Busboys and Poets, a community gathering place where “racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted…[and] art, culture and politics intentionally collide.” You’re holding a fresh new book that’s just dying for a read. Hop back on the Metro, crack the spine on your new novel, and ride on down to Chinatown.

Electronic Superhighway in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

By 6:15 p.m., you are: Sitting in the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery beneath a glass canopy. You can sit and relax without any of that pesky D.C. weather making you shiver or sweat, and it’s a great little spot to take a breather between stops. The first two floors are filled with gorgeous historical portraits and are worth checking out, but if you’re looking for something trippy that’ll blow your mind, the Contemporary Art Exhibit on the third floor is a must-see. It includes a map of the United States made entirely out of old television sets and neon lights: known as the Electronic Superhighway, it is truly a sight to behold.

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District Chophouse and Brewery in Washington, D.C.

By 7:30 p.m.: At this point, the munchies will be hitting you if they haven’t already. We suggest heading over to the District Chophouse & Brewery for a beer sampler (if you’re feeling so inclined) and the best dang onion rings you’ve ever tasted. Whether you’re craving an upscale, gourmet meal, or something as simply delicious as chicken fingers, the Chophouse has an extensive menu to suit your needs.

The 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

At 9:30 p.m., you can: Head to the aptly-named 9:30 Club for drinks and dancing. This club has been a concert and dance venue on the D.C. scene for more than 30 years, with good reason. The venue hosts a plethora of artists, from big-name acts like the Dandy Warhols and Animal Collective to small, unknown local bands trying to make it big. Tickets are reasonably priced and it’s one of the hottest spots for D.C. nightlife.

Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. at night

At 11:30 p.m., you are: Done dancing? Still got energy to spare and don’t want to waste a beautiful night? Grab an Uber over to the Jefferson Memorial and do yourself a solid by walking along the Potomac River to visit the memorials at night. You’ll beat the heat and the crowds while still soaking up the majesty of our historic capital. The path from Jefferson to Lincoln provides a clear line of memorials to hit, including some of the lesser-known statues like FDR and MLK.

Head’s up: Even at dead midnight, there will always be tourists at spots like the Lincoln Memorial, but it still remains significantly less crowded during the witching hours.

Adam's Inn bed and breakfast in Washington, D.C.

At 1:00 a.m., you are: Exhausted and ready to call it a night. Hotels are plentiful in D.C., but we recommend steering clear of the corporate-minded chain properties and staying somewhere quirky like Adam’s Inn, a B&B-style guest house a few miles off the main drag in the fun, funky Adams Morgan neighborhood. It features 27 affordable rooms plus big windows, a comfy common room, a picturesque front porch, and a little certified wildlife garden perfect for relaxing out back.

Head’s up: If it’s a weekend, the Metro is open until 2:30 a.m., but if you’re out on a weeknight, be prepared to call a rideshare or taxi back to your hotel. Now is the perfect time to bust out that Blue Cheese pre-roll to send you on your way to Sleepyville.

Day Two

Chicken and Waffle's from Ben's Next Door in Washington, D.C.

At 10:15 a.m., you are: Brunching with the best of ‘em. Brunch is a huge part of D.C.’s culture and if you’re going to do this right, you’re going to want mimosas and the classic chicken and waffle combo. Our vote for best brunch in D.C. goes to Ben’s Next Door – this joint (a derivative of the landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl next to it) will not disappoint, and is a must-do for any visitor to the Capital. Situated just steps away from the U Street Metro stop, Ben’s Next Door offers “U” Street Bottomless Mimosas, yummy fried chicken and waffles, and a slice of local culture to go with your ambiance.

Bei Bei the panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

By 12:00 noon, you are: Filled with deliciousness and ready for the next adventure. We recommend downing a bit of your tincture, grabbing a water bottle, tying on some comfortable walking shoes, and heading over to the Smithsonian National Zoo off the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park Metro stops. This excursion is absolutely FREE and can be as short or as long as you like. For best results, stroll at a leisurely pace for at least a couple of hours – and for the love of adorableness, do yourself a favor and visit the giant panda exhibit! You can visit Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, Bao Bao, and the new baby panda (squeeeee), Bei Bei.

The Washington Monument at Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

By 3:25 p.m., you are: Leaving the zoo and heading to the Tidal Basin to walk along the waterfront and soak in the scenery. This time of year, you might catch a few straggling cherry blossoms (the awe-inspiring beauty of D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms lasts just two weeks in early April), but the area is beautiful no matter when you go.

Word to the wise: Puffing discreetly on your vape pen will only enhance the experience, but be respectful and remember that although possession is legal in the District, public partaking is not.

By 4:20 p.m., you are: Bathing in the sunlight and enjoying the view of the Washington Monument on one side and the Capitol Building on the other. Sitting on the National Mall provides you with a nice spot to relax, and with museums dotting the paths on either side of the grassy knoll, the possibilities for adventure are pretty much unlimited. Happy travels!

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Image Sources: Busboys and Poets, District Chophouse and Brewery, 9:30 Club, Ben’s Next Door, Smithsonian National Zoo, and Adam’s Inn via Facebook, and Angela N. via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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