A recent article on Realtor.com about America’s most alternative, new age cities, titled “Feel the Vibe: Top 10 Metros for Alternative Spirituality” named 10 cities throughout the country that were spiritually charged. Oddly, Asbury Park was not named as one of them. Read on and find out what cities made the list…
Back in the oh-so-groovy 1960s, it was called “New Age spirituality,” and it generally centered around some combination of alternative faiths, mysticism, ancient forms of medicine, and copious amounts of weed. To advocates, it was the dawning of a new era of enlightenment. To detractors, a boatload of dubious hippie crapola. As a movement, it all seemed to recede over the (soulless) ’80s, ’90s and early aughts into little more than a patchouli-scented whisper.
But fast-forward five decades, and all the high-tech pressures of modern life are making a new era of spiritualism and medicine much more appealing—and much more mainstream.
Nope, it’s not all just crystals and chakras anymore. Have you gone into downward-facing dog in a yoga class? Considered an alternative medical provider? (News alert: Your insurance may cover acupuncture!) Shopped at a food co-op where traditionally fermented kombucha sits alongside “healing” herbal tea? Consulted with a psychic while entirely sober? You’ve at least dabbled, even if unwittingly, in this alternative world.
The mystical data team at realtor.com® decided to embark on our own inner journey to discover the most spiritual big cities in the U.S. So we dusted off our Ouija boards, gave our Magic 8-balls a good shake, and then checked the following (Note: For geographic diversity, we only chose the top city from each state):
- Naturopaths and alternative medical providers
- Acres of parkland
- Food co-ops
- Holistic medical providers
- Reiki healers
- Meditation centers and retreats
- Astrologers and psychics
- Yoga studios
- Spirituality-oriented businesses
Median List Price: $219,000
Even a true psychic would have a hard time anticipating this ranking. This central Florida city is best known for motor sports, drivable beaches, and spring break debauchery—so why does it rank so high in New Age spirituality? It’s the abundance of psychics, health food stores, and meditation establishments that levitate this unlikely metro to the top of the list.
The area is home to famous destination stops like Daytona Books & Metaphysics, where shoppers can undergo crystal healing sessions (on a massage table under seven strategically hung quartz crystals) before shelling out for must-haves like incense, salt lamps, and tarot cards. And it ranked second among the nation’s 100 biggest metros for psychics, with almost three seers for every 100,000 residents.(Only Phoenix had more.) Oh, and did we mention that this place has nice beaches? It has nice beaches.
Median List Price: $288,000
This south-central Colorado city is another place that wouldn’t appear at first glance to be a mind-body haven. But the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy (and headquarters for major Christian evangelical organizations), boasts an unusually heavy concentration of alternative medical providers and health-food stores—it is, after all, a supremely outdoorsy, healthy place. The aptly named Garden of the Gods, filled with a staggering variety of sandstone formations and a trinity of soaring rock spires, has been known to usher in an epiphany or two. And you can’t get much more Zen than the 600-acre Shambhala Mountain Center, in nearby Red Feather Lakes.
The city ranked fourth in the nation for naturopaths, acupuncturists, and other nontraditional medical providers, and had the eighth-highest number of health food stores and grocery co-ops. Time to stock up on black rice and duck eggs.
3. Austin, TX
Median List Price: $425,000
OK, you probably knew that a city with a clothing-optional swimming hole known as “Hippie Hollow” had to make this list. Often known in Texas as “The People’s Republic of Austin,” the state’s capital city always has been a free-thinking island in a sea of cultural conservatism. Like Colorado Springs, Austin has a high concentration of alternative medical providers. As the headquarters of Whole Foods Market, it also ranks high for health food stores. And it boasts dozens of Meetup groups for those into everything from meditation to energy healing. And then there are the breakfast burritos. Those can bring on a spiritual experience too.
Median List Price: $1,200,000
It wouldn’t be a list of New Age-friendly cities without San Francisco. If anything, we’re shocked this hippie-mecca-turned-tech-hot-spot didn’t rank higher. Even before the counterculture era of the 1960s, the City by the Bay had a long and storied reputation as a haven for seekers, soothsayers, and spiritual explorers.
Given San Francisco’s geographic restrictions—jammed into a peninsula with little room for expansion—it’s surprising that so much of that platinum space is given over to meditation-related pursuits. The city has at least 185 businesses devoted to quiet thought, ranking it first in the nation. It’s third in the nation for its concentration of psychics (and if you know any that accurately predict the run rates of tech start-ups, email us!) and has some of the most innovative vegetarian restaurants in the country, including faves like Green and Herbivore.
5. Spokane, WA
Median List Price: $199,000
Spokane ranked fairly high for health-food stores and grocery co-ops, but it really pulled away from the pack for its unswerving dedication to green spaces. Most of its parks were designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, created by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer for New York City’s Central Park. In 1974, the city was the first to host a World’s Fair dedicated to the environment; the event prompted the creation of Riverfront Park, a pristine 100-acre oasis in the heart of downtown Spokane.
But in case wide open spaces aren’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities for a late-night séance or two. There are about a dozen local pagan organizations in the area, and a group that meets monthly to discuss and interpret dreams at a city coffee shop. Want more? Check out next month’s holistic health and psychic fair.
6. Portland, ME
Median List Price: $365,000
Mention the word “Maine,” and people are more likely to visualize lobster rolls and lighthouses than crystals and alternative medicine. Yet the state’s largest city, with more than a third of its total population, is the most spiritual place in New England, according to our rankings.
More than five dozen businesses dedicated to holistic or alternative medicine have set up shop in the bustling port city, putting Portland at the top of the nation’s metros. The city also ranks high for its concentration of reiki healers, who remedy a range of ailments via energy transferred through the practitioner’s hands. Does it work? Who knows!
But while you’re pondering this, you can check out Leapin’ Lizards, a beloved local gift and holistic center offering the latest in pentacles, wands, and pendulums.
Median List Price: $159,000
Wait a minute, Bridgeport? The largest and once grittiest city in Connecticut, still best-known for its most famous civil servant, Mayor P.T. Barnum? Yep, the very one. A surprising number of top New Age and alternative retailers that call the urban center home include the nearby Effigy Witch Shoppe, which caters to the spell-casting community, and Talisman, which is stocked with hand-made soaps and psychic cleansing services to keep (most) negative energy at bay. The area also caters to yoga lovers, with at least 212 studios and schools devoted the practice— the highest concentration in the nation! Time for those sun salutations.
Median List Price: $125,000
You want some down-home Midwestern alternative spirituality? Des Moines ranks fourth in concentration of yoga schools and studios, and has a relatively high number of alternative medicine providers. It is also home to the aptly named Des Moines New Age Shop, which has offered classes like Tarot 101. Oh, and the city draws multitudes of heathens from neighboring states for its annual Pagan Pride Day. Modern-day hippies on a budget will also appreciate that home prices in the city are the cheapest on our list.
9. Durham, NC
Median List Price: $250,000
While the Summer of Love was in full flower in San Francisco, city fathers in this East Coast enclave were building Research Triangle Park, a business complex anchored by Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. The 7,000-acre park has developed into a high-tech mecca—but that doesn’t mean that New Age ideas aren’t welcome.
The North Carolina metro has a high concentration of yoga schools and studios and meditation-related businesses for those seeking that inner quiet. And some of the area’s most popular and devoutly attended Meetup groups are dedicated to helping members awaken their inner consciousness. The teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda? Triangle meditations? Crystal energy healing? We’ve got you covered.
10. Tucson, AZ
Median List Price: $195,000
Since the time of John the Baptist, the desert has been a breeding ground for mystics and prophets. So why wouldn’t this mountain-encircled border city in the Sonoran Desert attract more than its share of spiritual seekers? Sure, there are dozens of New Age-themed Meetup groups with titles like the Earth Spirit Community Circle and Mystic Healing Plants. And yes, you won’t have to look hard for alternative medicine practitioners, psychics, yoga studios, or spirituality-themed shops and bookstores. But surviving months of straight 100-plus degree days and nights each summer? Now that’s a spiritual adventure.
Realtor.com by Frank Bass; September 12, 2016.
11. Asbury Park, NJ – MY PICK
Median List Price: $ 359,000
Since the beginning of time Asbury Park has had numerous events causing souls of the past to remain in the ever so present. On Cookman Avenue you will find the destination stop of Paranormal Books & Curiosities which offers tours of spiritually charged buildings in the downtown, and there is no shortage of visitors that come for psychic and tarot readings to the unique book store. Then there’s the famous and iconic “Convention Hall” where the SS Morro Castle shipwrecked on the beach, just to the north, back in 1934, leaving many lives lost and souls to wander the shores (and halls) at night. All of this makes Asbury Park an energetically charged and naturally organic healing environment. And you will clearly see proof of that along the healing pathway of Bond Street; (between Bangs and Summerfield) that is home to a host of holistic businesses:
- Connolly Chiropractic – 418 Bond Street
- Castellini Care Acupuncture – 418 Bond Street
- Kur Wellness Spa – 412 Bond Street
- Spirit Cove (New age retail store) – 413 Bond Street
- The Daley Practice Iyengar Studio – 625 Bangs Ave. (corner of Bangs and Bond)
- Bond & Bangs Apothecary – 701 Bangs Ave.
- Tao Massage – 611 Bangs Ave.
And that’s just one corridor. There are a plethora of locations that also offer yoga; on the beach, on rooftops, on the boardwalk, in restaurants and any place else you can hold a yoga class. Just this past weekend there was the 4th Annual Yoga Festival By The Sea where 350 people did 108 sun salutations for charity with the Global Mala Project. There are two farmers markets in town where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables along with homemade and holistic items; one in Fireman’s Park, (corner of Sunset and Main St.) where you will find me selling crystals, sage, and other new age items on a Saturday morning. The other in Kennedy Park, (Cookman Ave). And there are more yoga and apothecary’s opening along the Main Street and Memorial Drive corridor. So why didn’t Asbury Park make the list? The survey only chose the top city in each state. In our case that would be Newark. So if you’re looking for a place to live that offers a new age, spiritual vibe think Asbury Park; then give me a call!