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17 Best U.S. Cities for Hippies

Birkenstock_and_socks_Flickr_cc_stevenjude

While some may think all the hippies have burned out or faded away, the truth is they’re still out there, still busily making love, but not war. We here at Estately set out to find communities where they’re heavily concentrated, as well as providing ideal habitat for the next generation of flower children.  To determine this we used a formula based on marijuana availability and legality, number of stores selling hemp, local counter-culture icons, tie-dye availability, hippie festivals, progressive government, intensity of Occupy protests, and a Facebook poll. In the end, we determined these places are the 17 Best U.S. Cities for Hippies…

17—Arcata, CA / 16—Bloomington, IN / 15—San Francisco, CA / 14—Manitou Springs, CO / 13—Berea, KY / 12—Oakland, CA / 11—Missoula, MT / 10—Bisbee, AZ / 9—Austin, TX / 8—Berkeley, CA / 7—Ithaca, NY / 6—Burlington, VT / 5—Portland, OR / 4—Boulder, CO / 3—Asheville, NC / 2—Olympia, WA / 1—Eugene, OR

17. ARCATA, CA

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Via: Etsy

The scent of patchouli oil is so strong in Arcata that it can be smelled from space. While this hasn’t been independently confirmed yet, it is a fact that Arcata is the first city in America to elect a majority of its city council members from the Green Party. The city also passed the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Act in 1989 and a host of other restrictions that would make a hippie proud.

No one knows how much of the city’s population is dependent on the large cannabis industry that’s central to northern California’s economy, but let’s just say the locally-sourced and smokeable veggie is paying for a lot of organic produce at the local co-ops. The environmentally-conscious town is a hotbed for radical tree huggers and various forest preservation efforts, and it’s a nice halfway point when hitchhiking between Eugene, Oregon and Berkeley, California.

16. BLOOMINGTON, IN

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Via: Flickr

Just because Indiana is one big, conservative corn maze doesn’t mean there isn’t a place where hippies can let their freak flag fly. Located in the southern part of the state, beautiful Bloomington is a hippie-filled college town where many a drum circle can be had, provided the Occupy Movement isn’t using the park at the time. Original hippies meet up with hippies-in-training from Indiana University at Laughing Planet, where they feast on burritos filled with steamed squash, kale, and seitan. Those calories are easily burned off after a non-competitive game of hacky sack or a few hours of swaying. The welcoming town is even home to the brother of his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s, Thubten Jigme Norbu, who founded the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington.

15. SAN FRANCISCO, CA

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Via: Flickr

The city where most of this hippie stuff started is mostly running on hippie fumes at this point. San Francisco still has the progressive politics and activist culture, as well as some bong shops in Haight-Ashbury, but it’s a long ways from the Summer of Love. All the same, flashbacks do occur and you’ll see various remnants and attempted revivals of the hippie glory days at the city’s parks, protests, and festivals. And maybe it isn’t that the hippies are gone, it’s just like they’ve… you know… evolved, man. Now they’re like in an alternate state of consciousness where they’re still hippies, but also like financial planners and art dealers and other heavy stuff.

Homes for sale in San Francisco, California

14. MANITOU SPRINGS, CO

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VIA: HARMONYCENTRAL.COM

For those who like their hippies new age, prefer mate to coffee, and want to legally buy weed in a store, Manitou Springs is a place that’s both mellow and trippy. Sometimes called the “hippie Mayberry,” the town at the base of Pike’s Peak is a haven for the artsy, spiritual types. The city was once ruled by Mayor Bud Ford, a down-to-earth hippie who wears tie dye and looks a lot like Jerry Garcia.

Originally, the town was a scenic health resort with healing mineral springs, but the waters were eventually made undrinkable after sewage polluted them, which is such a hippie thing to do. However, the problem was fixed and now the mineral springs are drinkable and have become a tourist attraction again.

13. BEREA, KY

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Via:  Whippoorwillfest.com

What do you get when you mix Haight-Ashbury with Little House on the Prairie? The answer is Berea, Kentucky, a town that was counterculture before counterculture was cool. The city is home to Berea College, which was the only integrated and co-ed college in the South for nearly forty years. The politically progressive community is home to organic farmers, hundreds of working artists, and even author and social activist bell hooks. The granola is just a little bit crispier in Berea, and probably homemade.

12. OAKLAND, CA

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The hippies may have come of age in San Francisco and Berkeley, but most got priced out and ended up in Oakland (the ones who got rich moved to Marin). While Oakland doesn’t always embody the ethos of peace and love, it does have 30 stores offering hemp products, is keeping the protest going with Occupy Oakland, and it’s home to Oaksterdam University, where students have been studying the craft of growing marijuana since 2007.

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 Homes for sale in Oakland, California

11. MISSOULA, MT

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VIA:  ZAZZLE.COM

Neighboring Bozeman might be jealous, but when it comes to the true bastion of Montana hippiedom, Missoula definitely comes out on top. It’s not just the vast array of sustainable transportation options or progressive non-profits, Missoula’s government has worked to decrease arrests for marijuana possession, and passed resolutions calling for a withdrawal from Iraq (2007) and to amend the U.S. Constitution to declare that “corporations are not human beings” (2011). That’s pretty hippie.

The city hosts Hempfest, as well as other festivals that provide an excuse to imbibe in Missoula’s favorite medicinal plant. Old deadheads got stuck in town years ago after their microbuses broke down climbing the I-90′s steep hills outside of town and they’ve been here ever since. Now they mingle with University of Montana students, especially whenever Yonder Mountain String Band comes to town. While the rest of the state is more conservative, in Missoula there’s no shame in men sporting long hair like Brad Pitt did in A River Runs Through It, and not just because the film is set in Missoula.

10. BISBEE, AZ

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Via:  Weekend Zona

Once a productive copper mining town, Bisbee reinvented itself as a hippie-filled art colony after the mine closed. Some residents still live in updated caves in the middle of town, and it’s not unheard of to see naked folks in cowboy hats strolling the main street in the middle of the night. The New York Times called it “a Greenwich Village West,” and there are certainly no shortage of artists, poets and turquoise shop owners carving out a living along the steep hills of Bisbee, Arizona.

In Bisbee, there’s no shortage of marijuana, which frequently wanders in across the nearby border with Mexico. There are a few pillars of the Bisbee business community who’ve spent some time in Mexican jails for attempting to bring pounds of weed back across the border, including the legendary local brewer Dave Harvan, whose Electric Brewing Company makes a damn good lager.

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 Homes for sale in Bisbee, Arizona

9. AUSTIN, TX

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Austin may be best known for its music and barbecue, but the Capital of Texas is also a sanctuary for the state’s free spirits. The city has more hippie-themed Meetups than any city in the country, as well as Hippie Hollow, a clothing optional nudist park where hippies can recreate in the buff. The popularity of Hippie Hollow is evidenced by a simple Google image search of “Austin Hippie,” which turns up far too many NSFW photos of these naked folks. Austin is also home to 12 local shops advertising hemp products, the “Hippie Church” at the local Taco Xpress, and thousands of locals ardently working to Keep Austin Weird. Click HERE to learn more about joining them.

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 Homes for sale in Austin, Texas.

8. BERKELEY, CA

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VIA:  FLICKR

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Berkeley was one of the premier college towns for student activism and a real force affecting social change in America. However, as the years passed those hippies aged, grew gray beards, and became local business owners and professors. The iconic hippie city still draws young trustafarians, tree sitters and assorted eccentrics, many longing for the fiery protests of the past, but the city has turned decidedly mellow. According the The Daily Beast, Berkeley remains one of the Top Pot Smoking Cities in America, but the tie-dyed glory of the past is slowly burning out just like so many Berkeley hippies did before.

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 Homes for sale in Berkeley, California

7. ITHACA, NY

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Ithaca holds the record for the largest human peace sign, an accomplishment that only scratches the surface of this city’s true hippie nature. This central New York town has it’s own currency called Ithaca Hours, which is essentially good for one hour of work and can be traded between local residents. That’s groovy.

In 2000, Ithaca’s residents churned out more votes for Ralph Nader than for George W. Bush, and it would have been even more if Nader had paired up with Dennis Kucinich. The city is home to astronomer Carl Sagan, the influential hippie eatery Moosewood Restaurant, and the Namgyal Monastery—a branch of the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama. In short, it’s a hippie heaven where residents are practically required to have a minimum of 10 bumper stickers supporting social and environmental causes.

6. BURLINGTON, VT

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The largest city in Vermont has a population of just 42,0000, but an estimated 20,000 of them are alleged to routinely wear Birkenstocks (citation needed). Despite its small size, Burlington is home to some of America’s most iconic hippies, including the jam band Phish and the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. So just go ahead and meditate on that amount of hippie royalty…

Burlington’s hippie ethos extends to its elected officials, with a city government stocked with democrats and members of the Progressive Party. It even liked its democratic socialist mayor so much the locals elected him to the U.S. Senate. Burlington is also home to a year-round farmers market, the liberal University of Vermont, and the Burlington Earth Clock‚ a giant sundial made of slabs of granite that is reputed to help “restore inner peace and inner strength,” just like Ben & Jerry’s.

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 Homes for sale in Burlington, Vermont

5. PORTLAND, OR

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You’d think with all the rain in Portland that the granola would have turned soggy years ago, but the dreams of the 1960s are still alive in Portland. While the city’s gaining a reputation as a hipster town, Portland’s spiritual core still belongs to the hippies (and lumberjacks). Citizens gather in the thousands for nude bike rides, they plaster their bumpers with hippie slogans, and everyone works to out-green each other. The hippie movement was never a passing fad in Portland, it’s just somethign the city has refined and reinvented. Portland is what you get when flower children grow up to be flower adults.

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 Homes for sale in Portland, Oregon

4. BOULDER, CO

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Via:  Flickr

A popular hippie town back in the 1960s, Boulder re-invented itself as an affluent outdoorsy town, but it’s still very rooted in its hippie traditions. Residents enjoy their progressive politics, organic produce, public nudity, and WOW do they love them some marijuana. It’s kind of surprising that the first city in Colorado to ban smoking in bars, was probably the one that worked the hardest to legalize marijuana statewide. This devotion to weed is celebrated almost every year on April 20th around 4:20pm, when between 8,000 and 15,000 residents gather on the CU Boulder campus to smoke a whole bunch of pot.

Known to some as “The People’s Republic of Boulder,” the city was the setting for the sitcom Mork & Mindy, is home Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and people there seriously smoke an unbelievable amount of pot. Is that clear? Lots of pot. It’s the Capital of Weed Smokin. The local bread may be gluten-free, but practically the whole damn town is baked.

3. ASHEVILLE, NC

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VIA:  FLICKR

It takes some guts to grow out your dreadlocks and wear a sarong in the land of Dixie, except if you’re in Asheville, North Carolina because that’s pretty typical there. This hippy haven is a southern Shangri-La for lefties, crispers, and those longing for a little more peace and love. While the city has pulled funding for the annual street festival Bele Chere, the town is loaded with farmer’s marketslive music, and numerous disc golf courses. For those who are southern-fried, the great city of Asheville is truly the Hippie Capital of the South, as evidenced during the weekly drum circle.

2. OLYMPIA, WA

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Via:  Flickr

Whether you’re an aging hippie, a hungry freegan, or a barefoot street musician who only knows one Bob Dylan song, Olympia is your safe harbor from stormy seas. The buds are kind, the vegetarian options are abundant, and there are frequent protests dedicated to just about every cause under the sun. Olympia is home to The Evergreen State College, which offers a class called “Looking at Animals,” and has the geoduck (giant clam) as its mascot. It’s a most welcoming place for those who run counter to culture, and avoid soap and deodorant like the plague. Good school, though.

1) EUGENE, OR

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the hippiest of them all? It’s Eugene, Oregon. Hands down. No contest. Eugene wins this thing by a mile.

When the hippies turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, they seemingly dropped right into Eugene, Oregon. Whether they were card-carrying Merry Pranksters or simply counter-culture types escaping conformity, large numbers of them flocked to Eugene and the surrounding countryside. Some started communes, others became organic farmers, and some formed an arts and crafts movement that continues to this day. Eugene’s traffic slows behind aging VW Microbuses, the smell of marijuana is never far (especially at Univ. of Oregon), and tie dye has never gone out of style. From the city government to the Chamber of Commerce, hippies have infiltrated every aspect of the city, and they’ve definitely earned Eugene the title of #1 U.S. City for Hippies.

  1. Ken Kesey, Merry Prankster and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was a local boy.
  2. You can buy tie-dyed underwear from numerous sources.
  3. The city elects a a SLUG Queen each year.
  4. Eugene hosts the annual Oregon Country Fair, a hippie spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.
  5. There are multiple Birkenstock retailers in town.
  6. Plenty of radical environmentalists, anarchists, and other political raconteurs.
  7. The weekly Saturday Market features organic produce and handmade creations by local residents and served as an inspiration for many other similar markets.
  8. Home to Toby’s, makers of fine tofu and and more.
  9. A local bicycle shop gives away free tofu when the local Les Schwab Tire Centers give away free beef to customers.
  10. Numerous vegetarian restaurants like Laughing Planet, Cornbread Café and Café Yumm.

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Homes for sale in Eugene, Oregon

Did we forget any other great hippie towns? Let us know in the comments.

Other articles by Estately…

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11 Best States for Bigfoot to Live

13 Best U.S. Cities for Mermaids to Live

  • Michele From Ohio

    I hear Traverse City is nice, too. I would love to get in on the ground floor of the changes that are happening in Detroit.

  • Michele From Ohio

    Thank the Hippies for pointing out how bad chemicals in your food are for you. Not many questioned that fact until the 1960′s/1970′s.

  • Michele From Ohio

    Sorry, didn’t mean to be so literal, lol

  • Greg Gibson

    Any such list that doesn’t even give a sniff to Yellow Springs, OH is useless. Ground zero for Ohio hippiedom and liberal thought (home of Antioch College). Patchwork denim skirts, flower-adorned tresses, same sex couples holding hands (I once saw a couple boys there that were about 13 in this situation), a toy store to kill for named Mr. Fub’s Party. A restaurant concept (Carol’s Kitchen) like very few others anywhere – get whatever you want and pay by the ounce. Park acreage abounding and a bike trail goes right through the middle of town.

    Also, Oberlin, OH could have easily earned a mention here.

  • person

    I. HATE. HIPPIES.

  • Michele Anna Jordan

    Pahoa, Hawaii, probably trumps all of these.

  • disgruntledoldhippy

    Yes, the population has boomed. Traffic is awful! No mass transit. Prices rising rapidly. Used to be great but that’s what happens when you publicize how great a place is.

  • Rich Poorman

    As I recall, if I recall, the main idea was to smoke dope, avoid work and get laid during the day, then drink wine and listen to music at night. But I could be disrememberating . . .

  • Shakti

    Hi,

    I am thinking about moving to Manitou Springs, what did you think of living there? I am a massage therapist from the bay area which I love but it is too expensive to go back. I’ve lived in spa towns like Sedona (new age hippie) and Palm Springs (naturalist but not hippie). I also lived in Eugene over 20 years ago (loved country faire and Saturday market but hard to make a living in massage), Austin (too humid and in Texas but made great money with low cost of living) .I was going to settle in Boulder but the cost of living is almost as high as the bay area so I am considering Manitou but not sure if Winter is too slow with tourism to make a living or not? I’m a old school hippy DH but don’t smoke weed just practice yoga, eat organic veggies and commune with nature. Seeking my hippy home sweet home.

  • mark

    i live in eugene and its nice filled with green but the people are all really fucked up, to many drugs

  • NotTimHolt

    Manitou Springs is essentially just West Colorado Springs in the foothills. I have friends who live there. El Paso county Colorado has over 1/2 million people. Most of the immigrants are evangelical Texans and Californians fleeing high prices and rainbowification. Over 25 evangelical organizations are headquartered there. I had a friend who had a Reiki business in MS. She now works for a caterer. There should be enough massage work. Winter is the real deal and will effect business from tourists and locals if they have to drive into MS. Denver is probably a better choice for independent massage business.

  • Kbo

    Veneta, OR actually hosts the Oregon Country Fair. Not Eugene. Though close, they are different cities.

  • watisup

    Santa cruz ca

  • grady

    williams oregon isnt even close to being a city but is second to none in being a left wing, counter culture, gonja growing hotspot

  • Dawn

    I agree with you! You paint a beautiful picture of the most ideal place to live. *sighs* if only

  • Phoenix

    FAIRFAX, CA!!!

  • Hippie Markie

    Champaign-Urbana Illinois

  • Mandy Haskins Jenkins

    Pretty bad when two cities in Oregon are on the list. Thankful i moved away.

  • Beth May-Moir

    Eugene is pretty interesting to live, I would prefer to live in Springfield, but Eugene it is.

  • Christy

    Asheville is fun, but Carrboro, NC, is even more consistently hippie!

  • TinWings

    Where the hell is Northampton, Mass??

  • Deb Demele

    Alpine Oregon, still have hippies. lol One ex commune still had the outhouse with notations written on it. Like a date and the feds came and took so and so away today and other historical history of the time there. Really cool i thought. Wish i had a picture but didn’t think to take one.

  • JanisJoplin

    There is nothing hippie about Jersey City. Jersey City is NJ’s version of Harlem,NY. There is nothing hippie about NJ period, I live here.

  • Guest

    Hippie is not a phisical place but a state of mind!

  • Kyle

    Hippie is not a phisical place it’s a state of mind!

  • Ian

    Thank god my state (Idaho) is not on this list. Montana should be embarrassed lol, hippies are a disease.

  • Donna Simmons

    Almost all of Sonoma County, CA.

  • Dan Scotti

    not ithaca….BINGHAMTON

  • Sarah

    lawrence kansas

  • shmrd

    Interesting that garb type and other stereotypes about what hippies do and say and wear is what made the top cities the top. True hippies don’t need peace sign jewelry, long flowy dresses, and to say, “Hey, man, groovy” to be who they are. This fact is apparently beyond whoever wrote this article.

  • Cayce Ryan

    Oh. Did you also google best towns for hippies to live it, Margot? ;)

  • Iduna Starhawke

    I am in shock that Kent, Ohio is not on this list! Kent State University is a hippie haven!!!!

  • sayrawkennedy

    HOW the HELL is Ann Arbor, MI, not listed? Hash Bash anyone?

  • bonobos48

    Living a half hour from Burlington has always been pretty groovy.

  • Linda McKee

    I take issue with the fact that polluting the water is a hippy thing to do. NOT!

  • Carl Marks

    bout the same to me

  • Mandah Faith Crouch

    Dude! Wtf where is FORT COLLINS!? haha

  • Danny Bordwell

    Anyone got a list like this for towns with populations under say 5000.?.

  • Kash

    I live between Portland and Eugene, OR. You can’t really call Portland hippie anymore; it is more yuppie and hipster. Eugene will always take the cake, made out of weed or not. We are considering moving to Eugene or Austin. Peace baby!

  • Eduardo Vazquez

    You guys forgot to Name DOWNTOWN LAKE WORTH, FL
    As one of the most layback and hippie cities in the whole state of Florida, no other place like it. Here we live by the beach at low cost, people are super friendly and just chilled, as per cannabis you can say that there’s high concentration in the area so we are 420 and 710 friendly. we live near an airport which make visitors close to the area, we have festivals which start towards the end of february, We are also EXTREMELY GAY FRIENDLY, we even have our own GAY PRIDE which takes place near the inter coastal at the end of March. We have a reggae festival and a painting street festival. Skim boarding, some surfing, great bars to hop around, you get the real layback south florida feel where everyone is friendly. Amazing weather during the winter and nice hot summers.