Pennsylvania is a state of many things: big cities, small towns, nature, urban life. Perhaps this is why the place has so many nicknames, including, but not limited to “Keystone State,” “Oil State,” and “Quaker State.”
We know, none of these are particularly thrilling, but don’t let that fool you. This state is simply filled with excitement, in some cities more than others. So which place in the Coal State (yep, that’s one too) was the most exciting? According to our latest analysis at the Movoto Real Estate blog, that honor goes to Pittsburgh.
Here are the 10 most exciting places in Pennsylvania/State of Independence/the state with too many nicknames:
1. City of Pittsburgh
2. Borough of West Chester
3. City of Lancaster
4. Borough of State College
5. Borough of Phoenixville
6. City of Easton
7. City of Philadelphia
8. City of Reading
9. City of Harrisburg
10. City of Bethlehem
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from visiting Pennsylvania, it’s that you don’t mess with Philadelphians. You just don’t. So what were we thinking, publishing a list where Philly wasn’t at the top?
Well, we really didn’t have much to do with it, to be honest; the math does it all. Keep on reading to find out the method behind this analysis, and just what makes each of these places so exciting.
How We Got These Exciting Results
As mentioned above, in order to come up with any of our Big Deal Lists, we rely on the magic of numbers to create a ranking that is completely unbiased. So, to start, we gathered a list of the top 50 most populous places in Pennsylvania. Then we used the 2010 U.S. Census and business listings to get information about the following eight criteria:
- 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)
Then, we ranked each of these places with a score of one to 50 in each of these criteria, with the lower score being the more exciting place. We averaged these scores into an overall Big Deal Score for each location, and the place with the lowest was our most exciting spot, which in this case was Pittsburgh.
So, you see, you can’t really argue with math. But if you’d like to try, feel free to take it to the comments section at the end. You’ll also find a complete table showing the rankings of all 50 places down there, but first, we’ll go ahead and take a closer look at our winners, starting with Pittsburgh.
With a population of over 305,000, Pittsburgh is one of the largest cities in the state and the 16th most densely populated. But it’s not the number of people that make this place exciting; it’s the type of people.
Pittsburgh is filled with artists, musicians, foodies, and a whole lot of young people. In fact, it ranked fourth in this category, for its 35.81 percent of the population between the ages of 18 and 34. Perhaps that’s why there are so many bars, clubs, and music venues per capita.
If the nightlife scene isn’t your thing, Pittsburgh has plenty of excitement in the way of art and food, and in the case of one restaurant called Bar Marco, a little of both.
2. West Chester
What could be more exciting than Philadelphia? Well, apparently the little borough of West Chester. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise residents; after all, West Chester is one of the youngest places in the state, with 57.53 percent of its population between the ages of 18 and 34.
It’s also the second most densely populated place in Pennsylvania, so whether you’re out walking from Jake’s to Square Bar (where it ranked fifth for nightlife) or jogging along High Street (where it ranked fifth for active life options per capita), you’re bound to bump into someone you know, or meet somebody new. Either way, it’s pretty exciting.
There is a good reason that among health care, public administration, and manufacturing, tourism is one of Lancaster’s primary industries; this place is awesome. Since that’s not very descriptive, allow us to elaborate.
Lancaster’s awesomeness comes mostly in the form of a bustling nightlife, ranking 7th in this category, and in its number of arts and entertainment options per capita, ranking 6th here.
Aside from places like the Lancaster Arts Hotel and Prima Theatre, this city also has a relatively young population, with 31.14 percent of people being between the ages of 18 and 34.
4. State College
If you thought Lancaster had a young population, just wait until you visit State College, where 80.04 percent of residents are between the ages of 18 and 34—a number that would just be insane, if this place weren’t home to Penn State.
Aside from the schools, though, State College has a lot going on, even for that handful of people who aren’t students (probably faculty). It is easily one of the most densely populated places in the state, so you’re always bound to run into somebody, and for the number of residents, this place is simply littered with nightlife and music venues.
This borough of just over 16,000 is like Burning Man meets suburbia in a classic movie with a kick-butt soundtrack.
In other words, not only did Phoenixville rank well in our analysis for its nightlife, music venues, and arts options per capita, but it’s also home to the bonfire Firebird Festival each year, and the Colonial Theatre, where scenes from the classic movie “The Blob” were filmed!
If that’s not exciting enough for you, Phoenixville also came in high for its active life options. So you see, Burning Man meets suburbia in a classic movie, with a kick-butt soundtrack. Boom.
Home to Lafayette College, Easton has a pretty high percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 34: 31.7 percent, to be exact. Of course, with young people, come bars. Lots of bars.
Easton ranked third overall for its number of nightlife options per capita, places like Drinky’s and the Lafayette Bar. It also ranked third, though, for its number of arts and entertainment places per capita—but let’s be honest, the Crayola Experience alone is excitement enough for any artist or artist in the making.
Alright, Philly, you knew you’d make the list at some point, and here you are at No. 7. Still a very respectable spot!
So why is everybody so crazy about this city? What makes it so exciting? Well, according to our analysis, it has a lot more to do with food, music venues, and a whole lot of people than anything else. With a population of over 1.5 million, this city is not only the largest in the state, but also the most densely populated.
As far as food goes, well, it’s almost hard to know where to begin. There’s Amada, Morimoto, Zahav, and, of course, Pat’s King of Steaks for the most exciting Philly cheese steak your mouth has ever met. There’s Buddakan, Tinto, and Vedge for your veggie heads. And, well, there are simply too many options to list. Just go out there and eat something.
Rather than really nailing it one or two categories like some of our top 10, Reading ranked moderately well across the board, bumping it up to No. 8. This fifth most densely-populated city in the state is home to the sixth highest number of music venues per capita, and the 17th most young people.
It also ranked No. 17 for its number of arts and entertainment options per capita, with places like Goggleworks Center for the Arts and the Reading Public Museum; and No. 18 for its nightlife venues per capita, like the oh so adorable Winedown Cafe and Wine Bar.
If you’re looking for nightlife, look no further than the capital city. Yes, that’s right, more than Philadelphia, more than Pittsburgh, and even more than the college town of all college towns, State College, Harrisburg has more nightlife per capita than anywhere else on our list.
It also ranked among the best for its arts (fourth in this category), active life options seventh here), and music venues per capita (11th), like the Forum Auditorium, the Champ, and the charming Carley’s Ristorante & Piano Bar, just to name a few.
Home to Lehigh University, Moravian College, and the IIRP, Bethlehem is simply filled with young people. As a matter of fact, 29.28 percent of its population is between the ages of 18 and 34.
It may not come as a surprise, then, that Bethlehem ranked 12th for its nightlife, but where it really excelled was in its number of music venues per capita, ranking No. 1 in this category.
If venues like ArtsQuest Center, Sands Event Center, SteelStacks, and Musikfest Cafe aren’t your jam, there are also plenty of other ways to entertain yourself, like the oh so awesome Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema, or any number of galleries, as Bethlehem also ranked an impressive 12th for its arts per capita.
Another Nickname For Youse Guys
Okay, so you’ve got the “Keystone State,” “Oil State,” “Coal State,” “State of Independence,” and even the “Quaker State,” but after looking at this data, it seems like you’re missing the most appropriate nickname: “Exciting State.” Well, at least in these 10 places, and especially in Pittsburgh.
If you’re wondering how the rest of the 50 places we looked at ranked, just youse check out the table below.
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