It’s old news that New Mexico is an exciting place to call home. Beautiful natural sites, amazing cities, and a culture like no other. Really, there’s not too much more to ask for.
Well, you could ask what the absolute most exciting place in the state is, and that’s just what the Movoto Real Estate Blog decided to do. We marveled at some landscapes, looked over some amazing restaurants, smiled at the local flavor, and when it was all said and done we had a top 10 list. Those thrilling places were:
1. City of Albuquerque
2. City of Roswell
3. Town of Silver City
4. City of Santa Fe
5. City of Alamogordo
6. City of Gallup
7. City of Carlsbad
8. City of Deming
9. City of Las Vegas
10. City of Las Cruces
Some of those might not be any surprise, but a few may shock you. At least that’s exciting though, right?
And if you’re wondering where other major cities might have ranked, you can check our full list at the bottom of this page. If you’re curious about how we did this, no worries. We’ll take a look at that right now.
How We Created This Ranking
First we made a list of the most, populated places in the state over 10,000 people, which came out to 22 places. Then we collected important data in eight different categories that we gathered from the U.S. Census (2010) and business listings. Those important categories were:
- Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
- Live music venues per capita
- Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
- Arts and Entertainment per capita (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.)
- Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
- Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
- Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)
- Population density (the higher the better)
After we got those numbers, we ranked each place in each criteria from one to 22, with one being the best. We averaged those scores into one Big Deal Score. The place with the lowest Big Deal Score was our most exciting place to be. That place was Albuquerque, which really shouldn’t be a shocker.
Let’s take a look at that very thrilling spot as well as each of our top 10 places in some more depth. We promise to try to keep it exciting.
If you want a place that has a youthful vibe and a cultured attitude, your search is officially over. For one thing, almost a quarter of the population here was between the ages of 18 and 34, which earned the city a third place ranking for young population. But that’s not where the energy stops. This place also had the fifth best nightlife and the third highest active life rank.
We mentioned culture, and we did that for a reason. This place had the fifth best arts rank and the eighth place non-fast food restaurant ranking.That doesn’t even touch on the festivals going on here, ranging from arts and crafts to food and wine. And, of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the Albuquerque balloon festival, the largest of its type in the world.
What isn’t there to do in this city?
Oh man, where to start? Aliens. Aliens everywhere.
No, seriously, this place thrives on the tourism created by UFO hunters and alien enthusiasts. There are festivals, museums, street art, and so much more all celebrating the weird and wonderful world of extraterrestrials. Of course, there’s more to Roswell than aliens.
This place had the densest population on our list and the seventh most music venues per capita. It also had a ton of active life options and few boring fast food places, making variety an easy thing to find. Well, unless you don’t like aliens.
If you’re in town, do yourself a favor and stop by The Cowboy Cafe. They have amazing steak there and a waiter was once kind enough to let a certain writer make her own tinfoil hat to wear during the meal. Thanks again fellas, and sorry about that.
3. Silver City
Now, you might be scratching your head a little at this one, but let us assure you, this place does have a lot going for it. This ranking has to do with the fact that about quarter of the population here is between the ages of 18 and 34. That number is boosted by the presence of Western New Mexico University, which also probably has a hand in some of the amenities available here.
What sorts of amenities? Why, only the best music venues per capita and the No. 4 nightlife. And if you’re not a partier, you can indulge in the second best active life options or the second best arts rank.
This town even had the 10th best non-fast food restaurant ranking. Don’t believe us? Go grab a bite at the highly rated Curious Kumquat and find out for yourself.
4. Santa Fe
No surprises on this city cracking the top 10. Santa Fe was home to the best active life ranking and arts ranking, obviously, but the great scores just kept rolling in, as this city came in second for nightlife, music venues, and non-fast food restaurants. Really there’s hardly a downside to this fine city.
If you’re looking for festivals of all sorts, including wine, art, theater, and even foreign cultures, you’re definitely in the right place. This city will give you a reason to celebrate, all you have to do is pick something you’re interested in and go have a blast.
Fifth on our list is the 30,403 person city of Alamogordo, which boasted some very strong numbers. While it may not have topped the charts in any one category, this city fared pretty well in every area.
The population there was pretty young, there was a fair amount of nightlife and music venues to satisfy the partygoers, and the culture-lovers would be pleased with the amount of art amenities and non-fast food restaurants.
As far as specifics go, there is a local zoo, golf courses, and a wide range of parks to explore. There are festivals, depending on the time of year, and there are minor league sports and tournaments for would-be athletes. Oh, and for the video game nerds: yes, this is in fact the site of the Great Atari Video Game Burial of 1983.
Sign up with Movoto now for the best way to find your dream home. All the homes, all the info, totally free.
This winner of the 2013-14 Most Patriotic Small Town in America award also made it into our top 10, mostly due to a really great party atmosphere. If you need proof, you can just look to this place’s first place ranking in nightlife and sixth place ranking in music venues. If you want to rock out or stay up all night, Gallup can definitely cater to your interests.
But what if that’s really not your scene? Not a problem. this place also had the fifth best active life, as well as the third best arts and non-fast food restaurants. Take into account the numerous festivals and cultural events, including Native American rituals and celebrations, and you have a fascinating and lively place to call home.
Now, if you’ve heard of Carlsbad before, it’s probably because of its beautiful and awesome caverns. But there’s so much more to the city than just that. The biggest factor here was probably the first place young population ranking with a stunning 61 percent of the population being between the ages of 18 and 34. How is that possible?
Well, we’re sure that the college campuses around the area, including a New Mexico State University campus, have something to do with it. Those campuses also probably have something to do with the ninth ranked music venues as well.
This place also had the eighth best active life ranking, and with so many natural wonders nearby is it any surprise? Still, you really should make time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience.
Now, if you’re looking for local flavor, you can’t do much better than this. Every year, Deming has the Great American Duck Race. You’ve got a carnival there, food, games, and of course multiple duck races. This is really something you have to see to believe.
Besides that bit of weirdness, Deming is fun in so many other ways. It had the second youngest population on our list, with almost 25 percent of the population being between the ages of 18 and 35.
It also had the fifth best music venue ranking and the fourth best arts ranking, so all sorts of creativity is welcome here. Top that off with a very high population density and you have one exciting spot.
9. Las Vegas
No, not that Las Vegas. This one is still pretty exciting though. This little city has a long and illustrious history involving gunslingers and outlaws that make up much of our wild west lore. From Doc Holliday to Billy The Kid, many big names once wandered these streets, and some of the magic is still there today.
The nightlife and music venues both ranked third on our list. For foodies, this place also had the fourth best non-fast food restaurants, featuring places like Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery & Cafe. For anyone who still isn’t satisfied, you can always head to one of the 12th ranked arts amenities.
10. Las Cruces
This list finishes up with one of the bigger spots, with a population of 97,618 and some still very solid scores. Las Cruces had the fourth place active life rank and the sixth best nightlife, so it’s easy to keep moving in this city. It also had the ninth best arts ranking, so the more cultured types can still get their thrills.
For outdoors folks, this place has great hiking and camping facilities as well, including Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area. The entrance costs are low, there’s fun for the whole family to be had, and some beautiful sites to see. If you’re more in favor of the indoors and food, you might want to try the very highly rated El Sombrero Patio Cafe.
The Land Of Enchanted Excitement
Whether you love partying, hiking, taking in a show, or just eating fine cuisine, New Mexico is ready to excite you, especially Albuquerque. Of course, any of these top 10 would be awesome for people looking to have a good time, so it’s just about finding the right one for you.
Think you know which city is the right fit? Feel free to let us know it the comments, and we’ll be excited to read what you have to say.
Like This Post? You’ll Definitely Love These:
- 30 Things No One Tells You About Leaving New Mexico
- 34 Photos Of New Mexico That Will Make You Want To Move There
- 32 Photos Of New Mexico That Will Make You Homesick