Arts + Culture

Mind–Altering Vacations

by Barbara Cleveland

POT IN AMSTERDAM

The buzz: Remember that hazy weekend you spent in the Red Light District back in your Eurail days, hitting a four-foot bong with a couple of patchouli-drenched Australians? Well, you may be all grown up and over the natty dreads, but perhaps you're not above spacing out with a little of Amsterdam's finest green. Ultramodern coffee shops, a great music scene, and a new crop of design hotels offer a more mature way to toke.

Where to score: Avoid the touristy Red Light District in favor of vegging out to short films or trip-hop DJs at the New Dampkring coffee shop on Haarlemmerstraat. For more visual stimulation, check out Green House Namaste on Waterlooplein, an ornate shrine to all the jewels in India. Most coffeehouses rotate their menus based on what's fresh, so ask the staff for assistance. Some words of warning: Marijuana is technically illegal here, but small amounts are tolerated; the city has been considering further restrictions, so check before you light up. In any case, smoking wherever and whenever you please is a major tourist faux pas, especially since Dutch authorities banned tobacco smoking in public places in early 2008. You might not get ticketed, but you won't make any Dutch friends, either.

Where to chill: It's always fun to trip out at the teeny-tiny Pianola Museum, where you can listen to over 20,000 player piano songs on several different automatic ivories. When the sun goes down, keep the tunes going at Melkweg, a music venue housed in a deserted dairy factory that hosts indie acts like Peter Bjorn and John and big-name DJs like Steve Lawler.

Where to come down: The beloved Cake Under My Pillow hotel is so friendly that they'll overlook your bloodshot eyes and help you cure your munchies. It's situated above the De Taart van m'n Tante cake shop, so a slice of the sweet stuff comes free with your stay. Still hungry? We'd suggest a cone of frites courtesy of the Vleminckx Sausmeesters on Voetboogstraat (yeah, don't even try to pronounce that one).

Next: 'Shrooms with a view

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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