The Most Hippie Town in All 50 States
Hippies have become kind of hard to define. Once upon a time they were the flower-power counterculture that dropped acid, drove inexplicably operative VW buses, and protested the bejeezus out of the Greatest Generation. You may recognize them from those pictures you found of your parents that you really wish you could unsee.
But you still know a hippie when you see one (or smell patchouli). Now they range from free spirits on college campuses to mountain-dwelling stoners, boomers still living in the '60s, and boomers-turned-yuppies who buy expensive art. And while Eric Cartman still hates them all, they all need a place to call home. Every state's got its eclectic hippie haven, whether it's a farm commune in Missouri or an artists colony in Mississippi. We've rounded up the hippiest of the hippie from all 50.
Though Alabamans have no problem camping for weeks at a time with infrequent showers if it involves a NASCAR race, when it comes to other aspects of hippie life this state is lacking. The closest thing you’ll find is Fairhope, a town in the Eastern Shore near Mobile. Fairhope’s the part of Alabama that attracts artsy types and young families with money alike, a town that has actual art galleries and bed & breakfasts. More reminiscent of the Mississippi Gulf Coast than the Redneck Riviera, it has an arts and crafts festival in its 64th year that pulls in more than 200 artists from around the region.
Anytime you put the word “Cosmic” in your civic nickname, you’re pretty much proclaiming yourself the hippie enclave of wherever you are (except maybe the moon). But that’s only part of the reason the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea is the most far-out place in America’s last frontier. The town that sits at the end of the Sterling Highway has become an end-of-the-road for people who just want to set up shop in a VW bus and go off the grid. It’s got a vibrant art scene, and is also a popular destination for people who want to look at the northern lights, and remain absolutely sober.
Once upon a time this town 10 miles from the Mexican border was a mining town full of the sorts of guys who probably would have complained about hippies. Now? Now it’s got a colorfully painted Downtown full of “art cars” and equally colorful characters who’ve decided to drop it all and go live in the desert. The park in front of the mining museum -- the town’s most obvious link to its blue-collar past -- is frequently filled with hacky-sackers. And walking through the neighborhoods makes for a different kind of museum, one full of creative decorations on residents’ lawns, also known as lawn art.
It'd be easy enough to reach for Eureka Springs or Fayetteville in this space, but instead let's drive a half-hour away from either of them, almost off the grid entirely. Anyone driving through the hollers of woody, brambly northwest Arkansas would be forgiven for assuming the place was lousy with Deliverance-grade rednecks or can-hoarding survivalist types. Nah, mostly it's just folks who are getting by in a simple way, probably growing their own tomatoes and corn and green beans, likely playing their own mandolins and guitars and banjos, for sure growing their own weed (though they'd still call it dope), and allergic to the thought of wearing a single stitch of clothing when jumping into the Kings River. -- Sam Eifling, Thrillist Travel editor
Santa Cruz is where the caricature of a bicycle-riding, weed-smoking beach bum comes to life in various shades of head bandana. The air here is at a near constant 2:1 ratio of marijuana smoke to actual life-giving oxygen, and were it not for the sea breeze, the stoned population would get nothing done. Not that career-building and a white-picket-fence life is at a premium here. Trash-rummaging hobos -- encouraged by the mild California climate -- are a constant sidewalk presence, and if you were a resident through the ‘60s counter-culture movement that once found its capital here, you’ll likely spot a few of your old friends picking on leftover seitan stir-fry. -- Michelle No, associate staff writer
Somewhere along the line, festival organizers in this town at the base of Pikes Peak said “Hey! Hippies like being naked. Mardi Gras is all about striping down! Let’s combine the two in a big, really slowed-down carnival parade!” They of course forgot NOBODY likes being naked in Colorado in February, but still founded Carnivale, Mantou Springs annual Mardi Gras parade. There’s not much skin (it looks more like New Orleans decked out in REI) but it’s still a first-rate party. The town keeps the hippie vibe going all year too, with street musicians not only tolerated but encouraged, making this town a little slice of the '60s in the Rockies.
Connecticut is known to New Yorkers as the waspy, sweater-clad suburb, and the rest of America as the cradle of the WWE. But it’s also home to Yale University, and its hometown has a hippie culture like nowhere else in the state. The ivy-covered center for intellectual and expansive thought was the site of political rallies back in the day featuring the likes of Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and the Black Panthers. It’s also home to Group W Bench, the oldest running head shop on the planet. Every June, the city’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas delights new generations with a 16-day extravaganza of performing arts, lectures, and conversations that takes over the city’s theaters and open spaces.
According to our people on the ground in the First State, trying to find a hippie town in Delaware is “a bit of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.” But every June Delaware has what might best be described as a “pop-up hippie town.” The Firefly Music Festival draws 90,000 people to The Woodlands in Dover. That means if The Woodlands were its own city for the four-day event, it would be the most populous city in the state. From the clothes festival-goers wear (tie-dye shirts and flouncy blouses), to hairstyles (thick dreadlocks and flowered headbands) to the overall love and live-and-let-live vibe of the event, Firefly certainly has a bit of a modern-day hippie feel.
OK, so Key West might not be home to the traditional, Birkenstock-wearing, John Lennon-worshipping hippies you think of. But since when does Florida do ANYTHING like the rest of America? Florida hippies lean more Jimmy Buffett than John Lennon, wear flip-flops and shorts 24/7, live on sparsely populated islands, and lack much ambition beyond their next fishing trip. Their mothership? The Florida Keys, the achingly laid-back stretch of islands south of Miami lined with waterfront bars and dive shops. The terminus of those islands is Key West, a town with a clothing-optional rooftop bar and an annual Halloween parade -- Fantasy Fest -- that draws scantily clad hippies from all over the world.
One might be inclined to go with Little Five Points in Atlanta (the neighborhood, not the MARTA stop) but it’s one part of a larger city, a city not exactly known as a hippie-haven. For city-wide hippie-ness, nowhere beats Athens, the proverbial blue dot in a sea of red and home to the University of Georgia. It’s the birthplace of the B-52s, which may not be a traditional hippie band but is certainly offbeat in their own right. And the town is full of hippie clothing stores and head shops. Not an uncommon sight in any university town, but certainly not very common in Georgia.
Isolated tropical islands in the middle of the Pacific are to hippies what formerly blighted urban areas are to hipsters. So you could really point your finger at any town in Hawaii and find a hippie enclave. But the culture of nature, yoga, and natural foods reigns most prevalent on Maui, and especially obvious in this small town on the north shore. It’s a city full of artists and boutiques, with street musicians and old hippies lining the boulevards on the way to the ocean. The city is also home to Mana Foods, the best-known natural foods store on the Island. And hippie celebrities like Willie Nelson aren’t shy about popping into local venues and saying hello, since most people recognize that our differences are just a construct, man, and that we're all just made of star dust anyway.
Like country mouse and city mouse, mountain hippie and city hippie are very different animals. City hippies are drawn to music, art, and culture, while mountain hippies gravitate to outdoor recreation, remote locations, and blissing out in nature. Nowhere is this more evident than Stanley, a tiny town in the Sawtooth Mountains that abounds in biking, climbing, and Snake River rafting. When the residents are done being guides and explorers they spend the evenings drumming their hearts out and relaxing in local bars. And while it’s not exactly Santa Cruz north, in Idaho it’s as hippie as they come.
This old railroad town in Southern Illinois almost went kaput in the 1960s, until an enterprising group of hippies and artists took it over in the decade that followed. Now it’s a tight, thriving community of free spirits that makes the most of its location at the entrance to Giant City State Park. The iconic Makanda Inn is the city’s main tourist draw, a hotel steeped in woodwork with innovating eco-friendly design. And the town is a laid-back escape that's equally stimulating and relaxing.
Bloomington is typically more identified with the Midwestern, blue-collar ethic of its most famous resident, Johnny Cougar. But lest we forget, this is still a college town, and with that comes a modest, but decent hippie community and certainly the largest in Indiana, with a natural foods co-op, a Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, and a hippie coffee bar at Soma Coffee.
Sure, you COULD take Claritin or some other mass-produced chemical to fix your allergies. But that wouldn’t be very hippie, now would it. No, better to raise bees. That’s the solution in this small Midwestern town where the high pollen counts led to widespread beekeeping, and where organic honey is easier to find than Diet Coke. It’s also home to Luther College -- a small liberal arts school with a strong arts program -- and a natural foods co-op, about as common in small Midwestern towns as scuba shops. It’s also home to two breweries, which while not exactly hippie, don’t exactly scream “middle of the corn belt” either.
The town isn’t an outlier in Kansas because its residents have a strange aversion to wheat. No, the area around the state’s pre-eminent college town brings what’s as close to hippie culture as you’ll find in a state that wanted to teach creationism in schools. Its music scene was dubbed by the New York Times as “the most important between Chicago and Denver.” And while we can’t think of anything else that actually sits between those two cities, the title still sounds nice. The town draws acts that would typically ignore a city of 90,000, with names like Snoop Dogg, Luke Bryan, and Def Leppard headlining in the next month alone. And while the city might be known more for basketball than basket weaving, it’s still the lone bastion of hippie-dom in the Jayhawk State.
Rarely is the largest city in a state the most hippie. Then again, this is Kentucky, a state not exactly teeming with tie-dye and vegan brunches. But Louisville holds the hippie banner high, known in theater circles more for its annual Actors Theater -- Humana Festival of New American Plays than it is for its horse racing. The artistic hippie can stroll the galleries on Market St, then stop into Joe Ley, a funky antique store that still holds onto items purchased by long-dead celebrities who never picked them up. The landmark Bardstown Rd head shop anchors the city’s biggest hippie drag, where for a few minutes you will absolutely forget you’re anywhere near Kentucky.
You probably know this town on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain as the home of your favorite Strawberry Harvest Lager. But the creative types behind Abita’s crazy beers are a product of this little hippie enclave. Once an escape for New Orleanians looking to get away from yellow fever in the early 1900s, this town is full of old hotels and cottages, rehabilitated by hippies who came in the 1970s. It’s now home to a folk art museum, a town shadow play, and a monthly bluegrass festival called the “Piney Woods Opry.”
With a name like Unity, you’ve set the hippie bar pretty high. But this town lives up to it, not only because it’s home to the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association and the popular Common Ground Country Fair, but also because of Unity College. This liberal arts school is the first one in America to base its entire curriculum around sustainability and sustainability science. And when you’re the most liberal of liberal arts schools, the student body -- especially in New England -- is going to trend a little hippie.
OK, so Takoma Park is no longer the same town that once had a Free Burma Committee and was the University of Maryland’s de facto protest ground. But this DC suburb still maintains much of the character that led it to once declare itself a nuclear-free zone. There’s a giant corn silo in the middle of town, erected to provide an alternative fuel for heating. Some city buildings are powered using wind. Its annual folk festival and Fourth of July parade are the kind of incubators of weird that fuel hippie culture. Though young families have started pouring into the area it still maintains its roots, and is certainly still the most hippie place in Maryland.
Massachusetts is already a liberal place, but most of it isn't exactly what you'd call bohemian, especially when a rabid Sox fan is yelling obscenities in your face for going to Starbucks instead of Dunkin' Ds. But you won't find that kind of noise in Northampton. This free-spirited town sits in the Pioneer Valley, an epicenter of hippie get-away-from-it-all mentality in the state. It's known for art and music festivals, a high percentage of leftover college graduates from such nearby weirdo sanctuaries as Hampshire, Amherst, and Smith Colleges, and some of the most pronouncedly progressive/countercultural politics in America. Northampton is also replete with "greenery," which you can interpret how you like but is equally appropriate either way. -- Adam Lapetina, partnerships editor
Over the years, Ann Arbor may have grown to be more yuppie than hippie, but it still draws counter-culture freaks both young and old. It's still the home of the Hash Bash, and one of the most iconic head shops in the country, Stairway to Heaven. And it maintains some of the most lenient marijuana possession laws in the country. But over the decades Ann Arbor's radicalism has tilted toward the mainstream: nowadays the typical local hippies are baby boomers who have made enough money to afford Ann Arbor real estate, and have kids who have already graduated from Community High. With long silver hair, these boomer hippies still observe the phases of the moon, wake and bake once or twice a week while possibly working a desk job, vote Green Party, have 20+ bumper stickers on their Volvos, and worship multiple gods, including Chandra, the lunar deity, and Jim Harbaugh. -- Bison Messink, deputy editor
The place you look at in the winter weather reports and say “Man, at least I’m not THERE” is actually a delightful small city on the shores of Lake Superior. Its proximity to the water -- and all the great camping, hiking, and general outdoorsy-ness that come with it -- make this a top destination for hippie recreation. Duluth’s vibe is probably best represented by the bands that have come out of there, most notably the prolific jam band Trampled by Turtles and the more-rock-ish but still hippie Cloud Cult.
MississippiBay St. Louis
Mississippi is about as known for hippie culture as Oklahoma is for seafood. But once you head south of I-10, it’s an entirely different ballgame. And while the beach culture, casinos, and welcoming attitude of the Mississippi Gulf Coast give the whole region an almost-hippie feel, nowhere is it more prevalent than in Bay St. Louis. Here the old main street is lined with art galleries and antique shops, complete with a fantastic pay-what-you-want restaurant at the Starfish Café. The town feels like California got dropped right at the end of the Mississippi River, and for artists who somehow find themselves deep in the Bible Belt, no town is better suited for their lifestyle.
This town nestled in the Ozarks is home to the East Wind commune, a group of about 75 free-spirited individuals who’ve established an “intentional community” to completely escape from America as we know it. The group is self-sufficient, with each member of the community contributing to the upkeep of the gardens that sustain them, laundry, child care, food preparation, and nut-butter making. You heard right: the lone source of revenue for the community is selling different types of nut butter to outsiders, an endeavor that nets them about a half million bucks a year. And if you ever happen upon some, try not to think about the fact that many people perform their labor here naked as jays.
There's a slogan Montanans use when describing the town that's home to the state's namesake university: "There's Montana… then there's Missoula." The city has become Big Sky Country's magnet for artists, hippies, and river surfers -- a venerable taste of Austin in the middle of Montana. That probably explains why it ripped off the slogan and now sells stickers that say "Keep Missoula Weird." And also why Rainbow Family peace society co-founder Plunker has decided to call the place home.
As the state's designated college town, Lincoln is an easy pick for the most hippie city in Nebraska. But it's not just the stereotypical head-and-coffee shops that make Lincoln special. The town is also home to a place known as "Hippie Cliffs," which have absolutely nothing to do with geologic formations and everything to do with hippies who trespass onto the Yankee Hill Brick company's land to drum, camp, and do general hippie stuff. The land sits adjacent to Pioneers Park and is a scenic forestland, where people disregard the company's no-trespassing signs by leaving makeshift bongs on the ground and spray-painting "smoke weed" on the concrete barriers along the fence line.
The "Burner Byway" (a road trip along the pilgrimage path burners make every August for Burning Man) starts in Reno, where many local businesses have a little extra burner flair. MidTown, Reno's hippest neighborhood, is full of "burner boutiques," including a vintage clothing exchange and an eclectic counterculture emporium. For burners planning an overnight, there's the Morris Burner Hostel, part hostel, part art gallery. The city's also home to the Reno Generator, best known for the art gallery and large projects it creates for Burning Man. But the Generator also functions daily as an inclusive art space for anyone who wants to make art and be part of the creative community.
Though New Hampshire is the stark opposite of its neighbor Vermont -- both in geography and politics -- you'll find a bastion of Vermont granola-ness in Keene. It's home to two colleges, Keene State College and Antioch University New England, and the annual Keene Music Festival, when the hippie-music vibe takes over most of this town of 24,000. For years, it was also home to the Pumpkin Festival, which set two world records for most simultaneously lit jack-o'-lanterns. And for a city its size, it boasts a surprisingly large number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
Most people think New Jersey is all sprawl, suburb, turnpike, and shore. And they're mostly right! But there's one slice of Jersey -- Hunterdon County, which sits on the western edge of the state along the Delaware River, just north of Trenton -- that doesn't fit any of the Jersey stereotypes. The gently rolling rural area has nearly as many pop-up organic roadside produce stands as people, and is scattered with hippie ex-New Yorkers who escaped the city. Lambertville sits on the river, just across from the slightly more touristy New Hope (the hippiest town in Pennsylvania), and is the area's de facto hippie capital, drawing congregants to downward dog at DIG Yoga and to gather crunchy groceries from Big Bear Natural Foods. Then they head back into the country for drum and/or knitting circles. -- B.M.
What started as a mining village on a dirt road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe has become an artists colony and an important stopover on New Mexico's Turquoise Trail -- and yeah, people really call it that. Madrid is a tiny town (population: roughly 200) that still contains all the trappings of its dusty and rusty past: old gas stations, general stores, dirt roads... except all of them are now covered in turquoise tchotchkes, or landscape paintings, or the hippies that made either of the two first things. The area around Madrid is known for its rugged beauty, so it was only a matter of time before artists and nature aficionados started settling there, and have they ever. In smallish numbers. Because you don't go out into the desert wanting to see tons of people anyway. -- A.L.
Thought we'd go Woodstock, did ya? Well, aside from being the namesake of the mud-soaked music fest on Yasgur's farm, it's really become more of a hippie tourist trap than an actual town. Ithaca, however, has THE WORLD'S LARGEST FREAKING PEACE SIGN. It's also home to two universities and a large community college, and its residents have created their own currency known as "Ithaca HOURS," which are bartered among residents just like paper dollars. It's also home to numerous "eco-communities," some of which function like old-style communes, others of which are environmentally forward shared housing.
Say it with us: Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other city in America. But simple fermented hops do not a hippie town make. The city has 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, a Downtown that's blissfully walkable, and a 60ft natural water slide in Pisgah National Forest. It's not a hippie town in the sense of streets filled with tie-dye and head shops. But for outdoorsy hippies, nowhere in the state is better. And even if you're not a hippie it's one of the best US cities to spend the weekend in.
True to its tagline, "North of Normal," Fargo provides an unconventional experience. While other parts of the state may be known for live bison herds, here you'll find a herd of painted bison scattered throughout the city. Downtown's Unglued is a mecca for DIYers and vintage-ware fanatics, offering an assortment of creative workshops, cupcakes from local bakery Bakeology, and brews from Minneapolis-based Peace Coffee. If that's a little to "mainstream" for you, Fargo's also home to the uber-hippie, pay-what-you-want Twenty Below Coffee. Presumably named after the local weather and not the discount you should expect.
Though the theoretical "springs" in this town 20 miles east of Dayton might be yellow, the city is about 400 different colors. Walls, storefronts, benches, even some people who populate this city are painted a mishmash of bright colors, making it a kaleidoscope in otherwise drab Southwestern Ohio. The town was founded as a communal town of about 100 families, designed to be a self-sustaining utopia. Though that never really materialized it's still home to uber-liberal Antioch College and a street fair that's as much about hippies dancing barefoot as it is ubiquitous craft boots. And you'd be hard-pressed to go a city block here without smelling some kind of incense.
This one-time resort boomtown in the Wichita Mountains still has all the trappings of an artsy getaway city -- galleries, outdoor coffee shops, hot sauce boutiques. But the cobblestone resort town has reinvented itself as a modern destination for artists and nature lovers alike. The city is full of restored early-20th-century cabins that double as bed and breakfasts, and serves as a jumping-off point to the vast wilderness of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. This combination of arts and nature makes it as close to a hippie town as you'll find in the Sooner State, as well as one of the most unexpectedly charming places anywhere in the Plains.
You ever watch that old footage of mud-caked hippies having group sex at Woodstock and think, "I wonder where those people are now?" The answer is Ashland. All of them. Or at least seemingly in this town where you'll find more grandparents high on legal marijuana than you'll find cars. The quaint Southern Oregon haven is almost Shakespeare-themed as home to the largest Bard-fest in America. But Ashland's true character lies in its residents, both young and old, who move this city at the speed of a stoned elderly driver and make it a beautifully relaxing place to spend the weekend. And give you a glimpse -- however grayed -- into what life for young adults was like in the 1960s.
The dichotomy here mirrors every long-standing hippie town: burnout kids who show up after high school to live a "free" life on the fringes, alongside retired boomers with fat wallets trying to relive their past. In New Hope, which sits on the Delaware River along the New Jersey border, that means shacking up at one of the bougie/rustic bed and breakfasts perched along the winding waterfalls and streams, after breaking out the Birkenstocks and tie-dyed shirts. For a town of 2,500 there's an embarrassing wealth of vintage thrift shops, art festivals, music shops, head shops, and a thriving local theater scene that has produced more than a few Broadway superstars. Its LGBTQ community may have taken center stage in recent years, but the true heart of New Hope lies in its flower-power roots. While New Hope abuts the Land of Springsteen, it's decidedly more Jerry Garcia than Jersey. -- Wil Fulton, Thrillist staff writer
Any town that houses something called "The Fantastic Umbrella Factory" is going to top a list of hippie cities no matter what state it's in. This particular umbrella factory, however, also has live animals, a bamboo forest, a greenhouse of rare plants, a vegan-friendly café, and, of course, shops with local artwork. But Charlestown boasts even more hippieness, including the annual Rhythm & Roots Festival, the Narragansett Tribe powwow, and an impressive collection of campgrounds and hiking trails.
South CarolinaFolly Beach
Charleston has become the trendy spot for pretty much everyone going to South Carolina. And even hippies who venture there can find a home a few miles outside town in this small beach community, where drum circles on the sand are still a regular occurrence. It's also home to Bert's Market, a 24-hour grocery whose slogan is "We may doze, but we never close," and which caters to the local surfing community both with early-morning sundries and late-night munchies. It's more beachside surf town than Southern coastal community, and even though drinking on the beach has been prohibited, it's still as close to Santa Cruz as you're gonna get in the South.
Any city that mentions a natural-foods store on the main page of its website knows exactly who it's attracting. Despite having the most expensive real estate in South Dakota, Spearfish is still a hippie haven. Why? The sheer wilderness of Spearfish Canyon, where one can spend the day hiking through some of the most underrated scenery in America then take a soak in Devil's Bathtub before enjoying an ice-cold Crow Peak beer at night. The town is also home to Black Hills State University (go Yellow Jackets!) which gives the Downtown a rustic, mellow feel. Combine that with the natural beauty of the surroundings and you've got yourself a hippie paradise.
Summertown itself isn't so much a hippie enclave (it's actually not even incorporated). But it's home to the famous Farm Community, an intentional community founded in 1971 by a creative-writing teacher from San Francisco and his followers. This thousand-acre farm went from a tent city based on communal farming to a fairly structured settlement of about 250 with a local government and required contributions to infrastructure (you might know these as "taxes"). The residents now own about 4,000 acres, complete with a solar school. It's not necessarily a far-out hippie town, but it is the best example of micro-civilization existing in the United States.
Austin is an easy pick here, as the inherent weirdness of the place has still been preserved despite the influx of tech money and millennials. But the REAL hippie vibe is just south in San Marcos, a town along a river of the same name known as much for lazy float trips as for its pervasive hippie culture. This town of just over 54,000 was Texas' hippie enclave back in the '60s and '70s, and many of those who moved there decades ago have chosen to stay. It was at the forefront of the marijuana-legalization movement, and it's home to Texas State University, giving the city the hippie-academia confluence of Austin, albeit on a smaller scale. Like much of Texas, it's seen an influx of younger people in the past decade and the character here isn't as zany as it might have been 20 years ago. But San Marcos' hippie community is still alive and well, and far more concentrated than anywhere else in Texas.
There are plenty of hippies in Salt Lake City. Of course, there's plenty of pretty much everything in Salt Lake, since it's the most diverse place in this predominantly Mormon state. But for the hippie lifestyle nowhere tops Moab, a green town nestled between red rocks and the jumping-off point for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The town draws hippies who go out and do whatever it is hippies do in a desert full of other-worldly formations. Moab's also home to scores of organic restaurants and grocery stores. The most notable among them: the Moonflower Community Cooperative, a natural-foods co-op that's been in business for over 40 years and was among the first of its kind in Utah.
One word: Phish.
Two words: Bernie Sanders
Three words: Ben and Jerry's.
Twenty-four words: "Burlington Earth Clock, based on the philosophy that inner peace and inner strength can be restored by witnessing the rhythms and cycles of nature."
At the surface, you wouldn't think this rural county along the James River would be any more hippie than the rest of Virginia. But then you'd learn that it's home to Yogaville. "Really?" you'd ask. "A whole town based on yoga?" Well, not exactly. Yogaville is a small community in Buckingham County founded by Yogiraj Sri Swami Satchidananda. The ashram retreat on 750 acres is a destination for teacher training, meditation, and learning the teachings of its founder. Hippies flock here alongside stressed-out city dwellers looking for a place to commune with nature. So even if you're not inherently the hippie type, a trip to Yogaville will put you in that mindset for the duration of your visit.
Tough call here between the state capital and Bellingham, the hippie town near the Canadian border that's home to Western Washington University. But Olympia is home to an even hippier school, The Evergreen State College. Its major contribution to American higher ed? School without grades. That's right, in a precursor to the millennial "trophy for trying" mindset, this school encourages students to just come and learn, with no real quantifiable ways to judge them. Olympia is also terrifyingly close to Mount Rainier and its endless outdoor recreation. And despite the presence of state legislators and the lobbyists who love them, the pervasiveness of the student population gives this town a feel that's more beads than bureaucrats.
This town draws outdoorsy types for its location along the New River and access to some of North America's best whitewater rafting. The city isn't exactly overrun with sandal-clad, shaggy-haired river rats, but in comparison to the rest of this hermetic state, it's downright Oregonian. People here are in tune with the outdoors, and more concerned with climbing mountains and navigating rapids than playing football. And while it's not quite weird enough to make any lists of most hippie cities in America, the natural vibe here is as close to hippie as you're getting in the Mountain State.
The music scene defines hippie-ness in America's Dairyland. Long before Justin Vernon and the rest of Bon Iver brought in the epic Eaux Claires music festival, the creative side of Eau Claire was apparent in the bars and venues Downtown, and in the jazz programs in the local high schools and at the university. Beyond the burgeoning music scene, Water St also boasts a smattering of galleries that draw hippies and artists from around the state. And the town has a laid-back college-town feel that's ratcheted down considerably from Madison.
"Laradise," as locals know it, is a strange and surprisingly bohemian oasis in the middle of Cowboy Country. Home of the University of Wyoming -- the state's only four-year college -- the town of 30,000 sits on a high mountain plain 7,200ft above sea level, and is home to a generally bizarre cast of big Western characters. People arrive for the university, but fall in love with Laramie's beautiful surroundings, happenin' music scene, and slow pace that eschews the American rat race. Over time, a thriving hippie culture has developed: Laramie's best restaurant is a funky vegetarian spot, Sweet Melissa, and it's home to quite possibly the greatest secondhand clothing store in America, the fabulously named NU2U. There is still plenty of cowboy culture to be found in Laramie (there are not one, but two bars called The Cowboy), but Wyoming's isolated, leave-me-be attitude finds a happy balance with the Laramigos who just want to live life and do their own thing up there in the mountains. -- B.M.
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