The 10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America
RANDY NELSON, MOVOTO
Not everyone can live in Oakland, CA. But after the Movoto Real Estate Blog named it the Most Exciting City in America earlier this year, it seemed like everyone in the Bay Area was thinking about giving it a shot. For some people, though, big cities just aren’t their thing. They enjoy the lifestyle that comes with living in a smaller city–but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to have fun.
With that in mind, and given the fact that we’ve been looking more at small cities and suburbs lately, we decided it was time to look at excitement on a smaller scale. We set out to apply our mathematical methods to ranking the Most Exciting Small Cities in America–places that might be scaled down in size, but where people can still do some really big things.
What did we find? We’re sure the passionate citizens of New Jersey will be happy to learn that their very own Hoboken, NJ took the (flashing, noise-making, spinning) crown of excitement after our results had been tallied.
The birthplace of baseball–a sport whose degree of excitement varies depending on who you talk to–headed up a diverse top 10 of miniature metros.
New Jersey actually had two small cities appear in the top 10. Oh, and Manhattan made the list… it’s just the one in Kansas. (Yes, really, Kansas.) Now, before you start asking how on Earth we came up with such a list, we’ll just tell you. Then, if you stick around, you can read some of what makes each of these 10 small cities so exciting.
How Do You Measure Excitement?
Whenever we put together one of these Big Deal Lists, we’re faced with a new challenge: How do we measure the thing we’re trying to rank cities on? In this case, that thing is excitement, something people are used to feeling, not quantifying with numbers. Numbers are kind of what we do around here, though, so we had to figure out a way to do just that.
What we came up with is a combination of six criteria designed to put excitement into a tangible form:
Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
Live music venues per capita
Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)
Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher the better)
With these picked out, we compiled a list of small cities across the country with populations between 50,000 and 60,000 residents, which came to a total of 140. We then researched our six criteria within each city and awarded a score from one to 140 in each criterion, with the best possible score being one.
After all of the individual criteria has been scored and ranked, we averaged all the individual rankings for each city to produce an overall Big Deal Score. As with the individual criteria rankings, the lower this number was, the better. The 10 cities with the lowest overall scores were our most exciting small cities.
If you think you can handle the excitement, we’ve detailed where Hoboken and the nine other highest achievers excelled below. You can also find a ranking of the top 50 cities at the end of this post. How’s that for exciting?
1. Hoboken, NJ
2. La Crosse, WI
3. Chapel Hill, NC
4-9 — CLICK HERE for complete list
10. Sarasota, FL – Last–but in no way least–we have Sarasota, which was the exact opposite of last in a couple of key categories, namely live music and nightlife where it placed first overall. The latter category is bolstered by more than a hundred bars, including Cock & Bull and Shakespeare’s, and nightclubs the likes of Ivory Lounge.
Active life options was another standout at seventh overall, helped in no small way by numerous beaches, while its ninth place finish in non-fast food eateries was thanks to places like Amish (yes, Amish) restaurant Yoder’s and the Cuban fare at Columbia. Just don’t to see as many 20-34-year-olds in these places; the city placed 88th overall for that criterion.
For the complete and detailed article, CLICK HERE <——=====