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 the city 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.