Cannabis Experiences Bloom on the Central Coast
By Barbara Verde
Cannabis is stepping out in high style on the Central Coast After years of enjoying voter-approved recreational consumption status or 21+ adults, upscale cannabis experiences are beginning to beckon in a region already known for fine wine-making and phenomenal foodie delights. Some might say the Central Coast is the perfect place for cannabis tourism to bloom.
High Star Farms: Wine country meets cannabis chic in Los Alamos
Los Alamos, a secret Central Coast gem and long-ago stagecoach stop, has become home to some of the best wine tasting and farm-to-table dining experiences in the region. The town somehow manages to effortlessly pair Wild West vibes with sophisticated creature comforts.
Nestled in the caramel-colored foothills of Los Alamos sits High Star Farms, one part boutique Airbnb, one part equestrian-esque event destination, and one part cannabis farm. York Shackleton, with a background in professional snowboarding, Hollywood, and top-shelf cannabis growing, created High Star Farms with his mom, Susan. They envisioned a place where five-star events, chic hotel rooms, and a working cannabis farm could come together in style.
High Star Farms grows all of its cannabis plants outdoors, kissed by the sun. Without the obstruction of hoops, the fields of cannabis exude a magical golden-green tranquility. Looking out from the on-site boutique hotel, guests can relax while gazing on acres of happy cannabis plants, taking in the scenery while taking a toke, if you will.
Part of a pre-existing bunkhouse, the guestrooms have been remodeled from the floor up. The made-over rooms feature such touches as high ceilings, modern-tiled bathrooms, and real barn doors which were salvaged from existing structures on the farm. The hotel also includes a lounge-worthy lobby and commercial grade kitchen, perfect for hosting large events. The rooms are centered around a relaxing courtyard that overlooks the cannabis farm with comfortable chairs where guests can spend some time soaking up the atmosphere or stargazing at night.
As York guides me past the barns on the property, a French bulldog mix with stubby legs cautiously walks up behind us to get a closer look, then becomes very friendly. “Oh, that’s Marley!” he says, excitedly. “We rescued her from an old breeding facility.”
For a farm that specializes in plants, there are plenty of happy animals on High Star Farms, almost all of them rescued, including mules, horses, goats, and pigs. York points out a horse standing under a tree and says, “This is Blaze, he’s my favorite,” while giving his buddy a friendly rub on the side of his face. As Blaze’s tail swishes, he says, “This guy was in such bad shape when he came here. He almost didn’t have any of his tail left.” The horse glistens in the sun, eating some fallen fruit as we admire him.
In addition to offering a posh place for visitors to stay in Los Alamos and experience a working cannabis farm, High Star Farms can also be booked for events and photo shoots.
York envisions events at High Star Farms incorporating the ambiance of the farm and the craft of cannabis growing into a high-end gathering — an unforgettable experience. He motions to a barn and says, “There was a really fancy event held here where they lined up the tables for dinner down the middle of the barn, and the horses’ heads were poking out of their stalls while the guests ate!”
Find High Star Farms at 2460 CA-135, Los Alamos. For more: (310) 990-4074 or visithighstarfarms.com
Seaweed on Ocean —Take a toke in Lompoc
A short walk from the Insta-worthy outdoor murals of Art Alley and a stone’s throw from the Lompoc Wine Ghetto is Seaweed on Ocean, one part dispensary and one part cannabis smoking lounge.
“We’re the only smoking lounge between Los Angeles and San Francisco!” says owner Todd Mitchell, with a wide grin on his face.
Once upon a time a smoking lounge on the Central Coast was the stuff of haze-filled fantasies, but as new laws and attitudes about cannabis take root, fresh experiences have cropped up as well.
Gone are the days of having to fly all the way to Amsterdam to experience the exotic delights of a cannabis lounge — you can enjoy the thrill of lighting up legally right in historic old-town Lompoc.
Todd gives me the ins and outs of the lounge, explaining, “You can bring food into the lounge, but not alcohol.” When asked if the lounge can be reserved for private events, he belts out an emphatic, “Yes!” One rule everyone must follow: all cannabis consumed in the lounge must be purchased at the adjoining dispensary.
The lounge has a fun atmosphere with perky lime green bar stools as well as cozy armchairs, beachballs, and good music. A throw pillow reads, “Real mermaids smoke seaweed!” and a playful beach towel draped over the cozy loveseat says, “A New Kind of High.”
There are various types of cannabis accoutrements adorning the bar, including dab rings, vaporizers, e-nails, and of course, the cannabis accessory from time immemorial, the bong. Loungers are free to use these tools, or just smoke a simple joint or enjoy a low-dose edible. A plentiful supply of water bottles is at the ready for cannabis connoisseurs who find themselves parched.
On the day I visited with a friend who happened to have a Beatles t-shirt on, the bud-tenders took a cue and put on music inside the lounge from the Fab Four. We chatted and mellowed out with our CBD gummies as the sun streamed through the windows and the afternoon melted away amidst friendly conversation and laughter.
If you want to recreate an Amsterdam-like coffee and cannabis experience, stop by one of Lompoc’s well-known coffee houses, such as One Room Escapes & Coffee, just a block up the street from Seaweed. Grab a cappuccino to go and a treat from their bakery, like a warm cinnamon roll or pecan sticky buns, then walk over to Seaweed’s lounge for a perfectly paired coffee-and-cannabis experience.
Afterwards, enjoy a walk through the nearby Art Alley district, with more than 40 unique, large format murals portraying scenes from Lompoc’s history, including an iconic mural located at 118 E Ocean Ave depicting native Chumash riding in a traditional tomol. And don’t forget to get a picture in front of one of Lompoc’s most selfie-worthy murals, “Feeding Time” (122 W Ocean Ave) which features a dinosaur with its jaws wide open, ready for a munchie!
See their website for cannabis lounge hours and upcoming events, such as the “Toke and Paint Night” on Sept. 11.
Find Seaweed on Ocean at 1101 E Ocean Ave, Lompoc. For more: (805) 742-8787 or seaweedonocean.com
Eagle Inn Elevate your stay in Santa Barbara
Many hotels are taking note of cannabis’s new status on the Central Coast, and are updating their policies as well as their packages when it comes to leafy green goodness. One such hotel is the Eagle Inn, located in Santa Barbara’s upscale hotel district near State Street and just steps from West Beach, with views of the Santa Barbara pier.
The luxurious rooms and casitas at the Eagle Inn feature large, two-person spa tubs, fireplaces, and expansive patios and balconies with relaxing outdoor sitting areas.
The Eagle Inn is introducing a new “420 Snack Attack” package for their guests. The package includes: six chocolate-dipped strawberries, six homemade chocolate chip cookies, a bottle of sparkling water, and microwave popcorn. The upgrade costs $25 and the “420 Snack Attack” can be waiting in your room upon arrival or delivered at a time of your choosing. Another package offered at the Eagle Inn is the “Couples Massage Package.” While not explicitly a cannabis package, one could imagine ways to pair that package with a well-timed edible to induce the ultimate in relaxing experiences.
The Eagle Inn takes a friendly view of considerate consumption for those of legal age at their establishment. Owner Paul Bullock explains, “We are a non-smoking hotel, and we warn people not to smoke in their room or they’ll be charged a fee. However, many of our rooms have balconies and as long as the smoke isn’t bothering other people, there’s no reason they couldn’t smoke outside.” Bullock adds, “There’s obviously the option to vape or use edibles which would negate the worry of smoke odors.”
Find The Eagle Inn at 232 Natoma Ave, Santa Barbara. For more: (805) 965-3586 or theeagleinn.com
More on the horizon
Other locales on the Central Coast will likely offer up cannabis consumption experiences in the future, including Ojai and Grover Beach.
The Ojai City Council recently voted unanimously to research cannabis consumption lounges and come back with some recommendations to move things forward.
Chelsea Sutula, owner of Sespe Creek Collective in Ojai and cannabis advocate is excited, declaring, “Cannabis lounges could happen as early as 2022!”
She envisions an Ojai that caters to cannabis enthusiasts as much as it caters to wine enthusiasts and hopes to see a variety of consumption lounge experiences, from low key and chill to bougie and decadent.
“Ojai’s definitely got the right vibe! I can’t wait to see what crops up here,”Sutula added.
The future is bright for new and interesting cannabis experiences on the Central Coast and gives new meaning to “living the high life.”