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These Are The 10 Most Enlightened Cities In America

Published: 10/29/2015

How We Did It

There are few topics as personal as enlightenment. Just about everyone defines the word differently. That being said, some words tend to come up more often than others when the talk turns to enlightenment — words like yoga, education and wellness, for example. We took a comprehensive list of cities, took the 55 best known for being centers for enlightenment, and ranked them based on these five considerations. 

Yoga studios per capita – For thousands of years yoga has helped people reach enlightenment, and, these days at least, get a good workout at the same time. 

Universities per capita – The Age of Enlightenment was all about the intellectual life, so we included cities with lots of opportunity for academic study.

Bookstores per capita – Failing a university, look for a good reading list. A good book allows people to see life through the eyes of another, an essential element in the search for enlightenment. 

“Alternative medicine” locations per capita – If acupuncture, cupping and therapists are easy to find, it’s likely that many citizens are on the path to personal enlightenment and well-being. 

University educated population – A person doesn’t need to be a college graduate to seek enlightenment, but a degree does suggest a basic interest in self-improvement. 

The picturesque mountains are a great place to find yourself in Salt Lake City. SLC had the fourth-most universities per capita.

For people looking for a form of enlightenment that’s a bit different than typical West Coast bohemianism, Salt Lake City is a great destination. People who explore the city’s many universities and bookstores will find plenty of opportunities to meet new people and experience different ways of thinking. From the thousands of books at Weller Book Works to the unique treasures at Ken Sanders Rare Books, the city’s bookstores could keep a person busy for a lifetime. Whatever sort of enlightenment you’re looking for, you can find fellow travelers in Salt Lake City.


Maybe there’s something in the air in California, but Salt Lake City is the only city east of California in the top ten. On the subject of California, 7 of the top ten cities are located in the Golden State. It could be that something in the California sunshine inspires people to look beyond the ordinary…or that they’re just really, really into yoga and alternative medicine.