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 regardless of what stereotype they fill, every single one of them need a place to call home.
Whether it’s a farm commune in Missouri or an artists colony in Mississippi, every state’s got its eclectic hippie haven. We’ve rounded up the best of the best (or rather, the hippiest of the hippiest?) from all 50.
Fairhope 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. – Matt Meltzer
Homer 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. (Just be careful not to do it Into the Wild-style.) Although the vibrant arts scene is nothing to miss out on, the trippiest thing about this town is by far the dancing, shimmering Northern Lights. – MM
Bisbee 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.”- MM
Eureka Springs Out in the Natural State-a place too many travelers skip over, unaware of its stunning mountains, unusual geological formations, record-breaking caves, and all-around beauty-make your way to Eureka Springs, where the smells of essential oils and the sound of jazz will confront you almost immediately.
In an otherwise relatively conservative state, this Ozark mountain town of just 2,000 welcomes artists and outdoorsfolk, the LGBTQ+ community (there’s an amazing drag scene and year-round Pride parades), and woo-woo types (it’s home to 1886 Crescent Hotel, allegedly the most haunted hotel in America). On top of that, it boasts architecture that has a way of melting perfectly into nature; look no further than the Blue Spring Heritage Center botanical garden or the Thorncrown Chapel, built by a protegé of Frank Lloyd Wright. –Vanita Salisbury
Joshua Tree If there’s any one state that truly exemplifies the hippie lifestyle, it’s gotta be California, where you can find all types: beach bums, commune members, laid-back stoners, mountain dwellers-you name it.
Boulder Given that Colorado was the first state in the nation to legalize weed, you might assume that there are plenty-plenty-of cities that could qualify as “hippie cities.” And you would be absolutely correct.
New Haven Connecticut is known to New Yorkers as the WASPy, sweater-clad suburb, and to the rest of America as the cradle of the WWE. But it’s also home to Yale University and its hometown, which 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’sInternational Festival of Arts & Ideas delights new generations with a nearly two-month-long extravaganza of performing arts, lectures, and conversations that takes over the city’s theaters and open spaces. – MM
The Woodlands 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 each year, Delaware has what might best be described as a “pop-up hippie town.”
Every June, 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 that festival-goers wear (tie-dye shirts and flouncy blouses), to hairstyles (you’re gonna see a lot of flower 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. – MM
Cassadaga Upon arrival in Cassadaga, don’t be surprised if anybody claims they’ve been expecting you-after all, it’s difficult to surprise the residents of the Psychic Capital of the World. About an hour north of Orlando, the tiny town is comprised of a community of 55 Spiritualists-that’s 37 mediums and 28 healers-who’ve gathered here to master their gifts in an accepting environment. Along with the clairvoyant locals, you’ll find shops selling crystals and pendulums, a forested trail lined with magical trinkets, a haunted museum full of creepy dolls, and more than one vortex. –Terry Ward
Athens One might be inclined to go with Little Five Points in Atlanta-but of course, it’s just a small part of a larger city, and one that, despite being nicknamed the “City Too Busy to Hate,” isn’t necessarily known for its bohemian vibes. For city-wide hippie-ness, nowhere beats Athens, the proverbial blueberry in a cherry pie 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 its 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. – MM
Pa’ia 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 is especially strong in this small town on the north shore.
Home to Mana Foods, the best-known natural foods store on the island, Pa’ia is full of artists and boutiques, with street musicians and old hippies lining the boulevards on the way to the ocean. Plus, 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 stardust anyway. – MM
Stanley 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. – MM
Makanda 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. Hidden in the Shawnee National Forest, the iconic Makanda Inn-a hotel steeped in woodwork with rustic-chic, eco-friendly design-is the city’s main tourist draw, but the entire area is a laid-back escape that’s equally stimulating and relaxing. – MM
Bloomington 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-certainly the largest in Indiana-home to venues that draw indie bands that’ll make you feel like you’re in a coming-of-age movie, breweries and dive bars galore, and even a mushroom foraging group (the shrooms they hunt are for cooking-but, hey, you never know what else you might find in the woods). To top it all off, you’ll also find a natural foods co-op, a Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, and a coffeehouse-slash-juice bar at Soma Coffee. – MM
Decorah 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 Decorah, where the high pollen count 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 solid breweries and a winery, which, while not exactly hippie-related, sure will put you in a free-spirited kind of mood. – MM
Lawrence Lawrence 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.”
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 past. And while Lawrence might be known more for basketball than basket weaving, it’s still the lone bastion of hippie-dom in the Jayhawk State. – MM
Louisville Rarely is the largest city in a state the most hippie, but Louisville holds the hippie banner high, known in theater circles more for the Actors Theater‘s annual Humana Festival of New American Plays than it is for its horse racing. The artistic hippie can stroll the galleries on Market Street, then hit the landmark Bardstown Road head shop that anchors the city’s biggest hippie drag, where for a few minutes you will absolutely forget you’re anywhere near Kentucky. – MM
Abita Springs 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 wild 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 local history museum (the Trailhead Museum), a wonderfully-named folk art museum (the Abita Mystery House), and a monthly bluegrass festival called the Abita Springs Opry. – MM
Unity 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, the first university 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. – MM
Takoma Park 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. – MM
Northampton 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’. But you won’t find that kind of noise in Northampton, arguably one of the best small towns in the country.
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 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
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
Duluth 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. – MM
Bay 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.
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. – MM
Tecumseh 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 that 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. – MM
Missoula 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. – MM
Lincoln 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. – MM
Reno The “Burner Byway” (aka the road trip that leads festival-goers to Burning Man every August) 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. – MM
Keene 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 23,000. 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. – MM
Lambertville 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 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 before heading back into the country for knitting circles. –B.M.
Madrid 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. 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 (and fellow art hubs like Santa Fe), 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.
New Paltz Thought we’d go Woodstock, did ya? Well aside from the name, these days, the town where the legendary ‘60s festival actually did not take place is bumping with more weekending Brooklynites than bonafide hippies.
New Paltz, however, has a more down-to-Mother-Earth quirkiness. With a vinyl record store next to antique and vintage shops and a Himalayan arts gift store, you can be sure you’ll find some prayer flags in New Paltz. Keep the eastern philosophy vibes going with beloved Tibetan momos at Pho Tibet or tofu bowls at Krishna Kitchen, then check in on how your past lives are paying off at Karma Road Cafe.
Fargo 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; you can also fill your stomach with cupcakes from local bakery Yeobo and brews from Minneapolis-based Peace Coffee. If that’s a little too “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. – MM
Yellow Springs 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. – MM
Medicine Park 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. – MM
Ashland 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.
A visit to this quaint Southern Oregon haven can be poetic; it’s home to the months-long Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 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. – MM
New Hope 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. While New Hope abuts the Land of Springsteen, it’s decidedly more Jerry Garcia than Jersey. –Wil Fulton
Charlestown 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 hippie-ness, including the annual Rhythm & Roots Festival and an impressive collection of campgrounds and hiking trails. – MM
Folly 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. – MM
Spearfish 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. – MM
Summertown 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. – MM
San Marcos 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. – MM
Moab 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 (relatively) 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 otherworldly rock formations. Moab’s also home to scores of organic restaurants and grocery stores, the most notable among them being 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. – MM
Burlington 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.” Moving along… – MM
Buckingham County 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. – MM
Olympia 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 hippie-r 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. – MM
Fayetteville 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. – MM
Eau Claire 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 Claire’s music festival (on hiatus!), 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 Street 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. – MM
Laramie “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. – BMWant more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’. Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health.
Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid.
Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor.
To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power.
Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.
You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks.
It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties!
An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:
‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.”