Are you sitting around wondering what to do with your free time? Are you just plain bored? Movoto Real Estate has the cure for your excitement woes. As part of our mission to spread the news about awesome places across the country, we’re tackling an age-old question: Which is the most exciting place in each state? The first state we looked at in this ongoing series was Indiana.
The winner? At the top of our list sits West Lafayette. It wasn’t all fun and games for West Lafayette, however. The city faced a bevy of places looking to take its crown. Here are the 10 most exciting places in Indiana:
1. City of West Lafayette
2. City of Valparaiso
3. City of Crown Point
4. City of Lafayette
5. City of Bloomington
6. City of Mishawaka
7. City of Warsaw
8. Town of Chesterton
9. City of Evansville
10. City of Madison
How We Created Our Ranking
To create our list of the most exciting places in Indiana, we first used Census data to locate all places in Indiana with a population of at least 10,000. In total, we found 76 places that met our population restriction and had data for our criteria (more on that in a bit). We then ranked each of the places from one to 76 across eight individual criteria, with one being the best possible score. After this, we took the aggregate rank across all criteria. The place with the lowest overall rank was crowned the winner—in this case, West Lafayette.
What criteria did we use to judge the most heart-pounding places in The Hoosier State? We looked at eight criteria, the majority of which we judged on a per capita basis. These were:
- Nightlife per capita (clubs, comedy, etc.)
- Live music venues per capita
- Bars per capita
- Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
- Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
- Percentage of restaurants that aren’t fast food (the higher the better)
- Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)
- Crime per 100,000 people
Now that you know what makes a city exciting, it’s time to dust off your dancing shows because we’re going to find out why each of our top 10 places are the shiniest disco balls in a land of bling.
1. West Lafayette
The good people of West Lafayette don’t need to be told their city is exciting—they live there. But, like most things, there will always be doubters. So, let Movoto assuage you: Yes, West Lafayette’s placement on list is warranted. When it came to our Big Deal Score, West Lafayette dominated the rest of the places in Indiana. Why? This city had four top 10 finishes for individual criteria: population age, nightlife per capita, music venues per capita, and crime rate.
This city in Porter County squeaked out a second place finish thanks to high marks in four of our criteria. Of these, Valparaiso ranked the best for its number of active life options: one for every 675 people. In other words, Valparaiso has plenty of places to get outdoors and enjoy the rays. Why didn’t Valparaiso succeed in capturing the No. 1 spot? Where the city underachieved was for its number of fast food restaurants per person (a trend among most of the places on this list).
3. Crown Point
After we tabulated our spreadsheet, Crown Point barely beat out Lafayette for the bronze medal spot. What made Crown Point like the third act of a Michael Bay movie (action packed!) were four top 10 finishes among our criteria. The two criteria the city did best in were its bars and music venues per capita—No. 3 and No. 7, respectively. Where the city faltered, however, was its population. Just 22 percent of Crown Point’s population is between 18 and 34 years old, low enough to earn the city the No. 46 spot for this criterion.
While there might be some hurt feelings that Lafayette didn’t place as well as its counterpart, West Lafayette, let us assure you that the No. 4 spot is nothing to laugh at. Lafayette beat out 72 other locales to make our list. If this still doesn’t have you excited, remember you could also grab some friends and head over to West Lafayette for a night out. Lafayette made our top 10 list thanks to a No. 1 rank for the number of bars per person and a No. 2 rank for its number of nightlife establishments per person. (If you’re looking for things to do in Lafayette, we have some ideas.)
Students at Indiana University Bloomington don’t need to be told that they live in a rip-roaring city. (You can find examples why here.) For everyone else, here’s why: This Monroe County city earned high marks for four of our eight criteria. It placed second for it’s population of 18 to 34 year olds, took the No. 3 spot for its nightlife establishments per capita, earned a No. 6 rank for bars per people, and landed a No. 3 finish for music venues per person. Maybe the name of this city should be changed to Boomington.
Mishawaka had five top 10 finishes across our individual criteria. This city near South Bend ranked the best for it’s nightlife establishments per capita, bringing home the No. 4 spot. Where could Mishawaka have done better? Crime per 100,000 and fast food joints per capita. For this first facepalm, Mishawaka took the No. 65 spot. As for fast food joints, there were enough burger slingers in the city to warrant a No. 57 rank.
Warsaw had just two top 10 ranks across our individual criteria. These were for its number of non-fast food restaurants and bars per person. In fact, Warsaw took home the No. 1 spot for restaurants per people, making it the place to go if you want to push aside those bland pre-packaged meals from some of the chain joints.
Not all is grand in Warsaw, however, at least compared to all the places in our top 10 list. Warsaw could use improvements in two criteria, if it hopes to climb our list. What were these criteria? Fast food restaurants per person and crimes per 100,000 people.
This town in northwestern Indiana made our list thanks to top 10 finishes in three of our criteria: active life establishments per capita, restaurants per capita, and nightlife establishments per capita. What kept Chesterton from popping in earbuds and rock climbing up our daunting list of the most exciting places in Indiana? This town’s population. Just 19.6 percent of its population is between 18 and 34 years old, low enough for the No. 71 spot for this criterion.
The largest place on our list, Evansville had no top 10 finishes across our eight criteria. This isn’t a bad thing, in our opinion, because it means Evansville is steady. Instead, Evansville had solid ranks for all but two of our data points. These were crimes per 100,000 people and fast food restaurants per person. For these criteria the city ranked No. 44 and No. 47, respectively.
Rounding out our top 10 list is Madison, a city in Jefferson County along the Ohio River. Madison’s nightlife and active life establishment per person made this city a must for people at the forefront of fighting boredom. Where could Madison have achieved more? First, the city can cleans itself of fast food restaurants (No. 67). Second, Madison should consider bringing in some youngblood. Just 19.7 percent of people in Madison are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.
In Need Of Excitement
Now that we know where to go to keep boredom at bay, what about the places at the bottom of our list? In descending order, the places the need an injection of excitement are: La Porte and Martinsville (No. 72), Lawrence (No. 74), East Chicago (No. 75), and Gary (No. 76).