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.
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 -grade rednecks or can-hoarding survivalist types.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-- Santa Cruz is where the caricature of a bicycle-riding, weed-smoking beach bum comes to life in various shades of head bandana.
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. Let’s combine the two in a big, really slowed-down carnival parade!