The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Most Exciting Places In Indiana

Looking for an action packed holiday in Indiana? Here we present 10 best places to visit in Indiana that are full of excitement and fun.

David Cross

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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

West Lafayette, IN

Source: Movoto

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.

2. Valparaiso

Valparaiso, IN

Source: Flickr user Steve A Johnson

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

Crown Point, IN

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

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.

4. Lafayette

Lafayette, IN

Source: Movoto

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.)

5. Bloomington

Bloomington, IN

Source: Flickr user IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful

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.

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6. Mishawaka

Mishawaka, IN

Source: Flickr user Devanny

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.

7. Warsaw

Warsaw, IN

Source: Wikipedia user Nyttend

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.

8. Chesterton

Chesterton, IN

Source: Flickr user Drewski Mac

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.

9. Evansville

Evansville, IN

Source: Flickr user The U.S. Army

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.

10. Madison

Madison, IN

Source: Flickr user ken ratcliff

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).

Exciting Places in Indiana Table

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posted on: February 21, 2014
62,389 views, 6 comments


  1. Micheal

    I’m just gonna say, Madison does not deserve to be on this list. I live there and like every person I know in the younger age group wants out, there is nothong to do, at all so we all jave to drive an hour away just to have some fun. Also if you took away fast food I think everyone in the town would just give up on life.

    • Madisonian in response to Micheal

      I’ve left Madison for a couple years, returned, left and returned. Anytime I live somewhere else, I miss this nice little river town. Teens after High School think they want to go somewhere else, most do, some stay gone for good whether it be for college or just their desire to live elsewhere for a while. Many do miss the relaxed, slow pace of life in a beautiful historic town while others trade it for the ‘luxuries’ of a city where they get parking tickets, pay high rent, and increase their risk of being victim of violent crimes.

      Madison is the type of place where you can walk down Main Street at 9AM and the old ladies call you, ‘Young man’ and the old men call you, ‘sir’. You can walk into a restaurant downtown and know the names of the folks behind the counter, and they know your name too and greet you accordingly.

      We still have our undesirables and face some of the problems all towns face, but all in all, I’d not want to live anywhere else.

      -Madisonian in his mid 20’s.

  2. Ben friedberg

    Wow. I mean, just, wow. What a dismal way to calculate ‘excitement’. per capita ranking? really? Put a fictional village in for me and tell me how it ranks, ok?
    Boringsville, IN

    Population 1000
    Population 18-34: 350 (There’s an ethenol processing plant that attracts younger labor since it’s new technology)

    Violent Crime: 2 / year

    Fast Food Restaurants: 0 (not big enough to attract franchises)

    Bars: 2 (them hicks love their likker, kareoke tuesdays and live music Fridays, no matter that it’s the same act every night)

    Non-FastFood: 3 (The bar serves food, the smiths have run a diner for years and there’s a taqueria since about 30% of the 18-34 year old ethenol workers are Hispanic)

    Finally, there’s a series of quad trails in the woods for the avid hunters in the neighborhood.

    I would wager that this SCINTILLATING metropolis beats out Indy as a ‘Michael Bay’ sort of place… This is an attention grab, pure and simple.

  3. Ben

    What a horrible list. the author obviously has been to none of the places he ranks. Hell, Lafayette and West Lafayette are on the list. Other than Purdue students rants they are the same damn town just 2 sides of a bridge. Terre Haute came in 11th? I’m from there and everyone hates it. Even Steven King calls it “the place crazy people go to die”. Carmel and Fishers didn’t even make the top 20 and Carmel has been the best city to live in in the entire United States on lists before. Fishers has made the top 10 on the same list but apparently there are 35 better cities in Indiana… And Indianapolis is ranked 63rd?!?!?!It has 6 professional sports teams, the biggest music venue in a 12 state area, the biggest named acts, the most selection of food and nightlife, 5 colleges, entire neighborhoods of 20-30 somethings, lakes, airports, parks, festivals, over 20 microbreweries, and on and on… There are 3 cities in the top 15 that don’t even have a cab service…Whoever wrote this obviously spends most of his time in front of a computer.

  4. Veronica

    Terrible criteria – “Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better) and Percentage of restaurants that aren’t fast food (the higher the better)” these are pretty much measuring the same thing. Speaking of same, Lafayette and West Lafayette might as well be the same, they are only separated by a bridge, so just merge them together for this list. There’s no way Valparaiso and Crown Point beat out Bloomington. No way. Crown Point is a white suburb of Gary, there’s nothing happening there. How is the college town of South Bend not on this list?

  5. Mordekai

    For the record, a couple of these places are super boring. Numbers will never fulfill real facts when considering a part of life driven by the intuitive and creative.

    What a BS study…..

    Bloomington, Indy, Lafayette, and Fort Wayne are top 4. And in terms of NW Indiana, it is actually the conglomerate of various towns next to each other that make that area work but if you had to pin point just one it would be Michigan City because of the beach, dunes, and events.


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