The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Most Exciting Places In Texas

Texas is all about going big, so where’s the big fun to be had? We’ll look at which places are the stars of entertainment and thrills in the Lone Star State.

Laura Allan

112 articles, 1 comments

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The state of Texas is one big rip-roarin rodeo of excitement. Thriving sports teams abound, festivals pop up everywhere all year round, and of course there’s some of the best tex-mex to be found. It’s hard to imagine being bored at all here. But what if you were looking for some particular amazing thrills? Are there particular spots in Texas that just offer more to the average ultra-active fun-seeker?

At Movoto Real Estate, we’ve found that there are. Between our exciting pastimes of ranking safest places and ranking most affordable places, we took a little time to devote to big Texas and it’s numerous captivating locales. We rounded up the numbers, we bucked all the useless extras, and then we lassoed ourselves a little list of the ten most fun places to be. The Most Exciting Places in Texas were:

1. City of Galveston
2. City of Austin
3. City of Houston
3. City of Conroe
5. City of Dallas
6. City of San Marcos
7. City of McAllen
8. City of Tyler
8. City of New Braunfels
10. City of Bryan

Now before you get upset that your hometown isn’t on the list, don’t worry. We promise we’re not messin’ with Texas. We chose these places based on data, size, and a whole lot more than just our own personal opinions. In addition, these places were picked from a list of only the 100 most populated places in the state, so if you’re from a smaller location, you won’t see yourself on the list. (Though, honorable mention to little Webster. You guys looked pretty awesome.) What other criteria did we use in creating this ranking? Let’s find out.

Getting our Big List for Big Texas

This ain’t the first time we’ve made one of these Big Deal Lists, but for those who are new to the scene, lets go over how we do this. First, we pick out a list of places of a certain population, and in this case we used the 100 most populated places in Texas. From there, we needed to collect data on each place in different criteria. We collected this data using Areavibes, the US Census (2010) and Yelp. Those different criteria we used were:

  • 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 not fast food (the higher the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)

We then ranked each place in these different categories from 1 to 100, with one being the best. All those different scores were then averaged out to make one Big Deal Score, and whoever had the best score in that ranking was our proud victor.

Galveston may have come up as No. 1, but we didn’t forget all the other great places in Texas. There are 90 other most populated places we looked at that are not in our top 10, and you can see how all of those scored down by the bottom of this piece. who know, your home might be pretty darned high on that list. But instead of looking at all those different locations, lets focus on our top 10 and what made them really stand out from the herd, starting with our first place winner.

1. Galveston

Galveston, TX

Source:Flickr user Mike Davis

Our first place location is the city of Galveston, aptly nicknamed ‘The Playground of the South.” Whether you want music, thrills, food, or festivals, this is the place for some serious excitement. Pleasure Pier is home to some gravity-defying roller coasters, and The Strand, a specific beautiful neighborhood, holds many different festivals throughout the year including Mardis Gras and Dickens on the Strand. The city is also one of this biggest ports in the US, so if you want to take a little trip, it’s easy to grab a ride on a Carnival Cruise liner.

Besides all the different attractions, this city knows how to party and the numbers really show it. Galveston ranks No. 1 in nightlife per capita and in active life amenities. For those who like their food a little fancier, it also ranks No. 3 in the non-fast food restaurant category. There are plenty of music venues, and with all the festivals going on here that’s probably a good thing. Basically, if you want to live life in the fast lane, this is definitely the place to go.

2. Austin

Austin, TX

Source: Flickr user Trey Ratcliff

The capital city is also a capital of music in the state of Texas, and ranks a decisive No. 1 in music venue rankings. If you’re not looking for something live, then no need to worry, Austin still has you covered. The nightlife is ranked at fourth place, which means the only problem clubbers have, is figuring out which of the many they want to go to. The active life amenities rank is also sitting pretty at No. 4, which means that in the day as well as the night there are plenty of things to do here. and don’t worry if you’re a youngster, you’re not alone. A whopping 35.2 percent of the population here is between 34 and 18, so you’ll always be making new friends.

As I said before, the only problem with Austin is figuring out exactly which of the many attractions to visit. There’s a thriving community, so you can take in a show at Ballet Austin or some Austin improv. If you’d rather be more active, you can be a kid again at Eeyore’s Birthday Party or swim some laps at the Deep Eddy Pool. And don’t even get us started on festivals! There are way too many to count, and you can bet there’s one that suits your unique individual interests.

3. Houston

Houston, TX

Source: Flickr user Travis Gertz

When it comes to excitement, Houston certainly does not have a problem. 2,099,451 population H-town is the hometown of many a sports team, yearly parades and rodeos, and of course a whole lot of space history. As many people know, Houston is the location of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center where astronauts trained and prepped for space missions, and where mission control was during the Apollo program. Because of that, there’s plenty of space-related attractions to see and tons of festivals that are out of this world, such as ApolloCon.

Houston isn’t just subjectively awesome though, it also has some stats to back it up. The nightlife here is always bubbling, and ranks No. 6 on our list for that criterion. It’s also a great place to get a delicious meal without grabbing a fast food burger, and scores ninth place in that category. There are plenty of music venues, and the young population is thriving, which means that Houston will only continue to blast off as time goes by.

3. Conroe

Conroe, TX

Source: Conroe Visitors and Convention Bureau

Much smaller, but still tied for third with Houston, is the city of Conroe. With only 56,207 people (compared to Houston over 2,000,000), this city still packs a major punch as far as excitement. For those looking to be active in the day, the active life amenities rank No. 3 on our list for that criterion, and the nightlife also fares a respectable 13th place for those who prefer the evening revelries. For the youth of this city, their time is now, as 28.95 percent of people are between the ages of 34 and 18.

Things to do are hardly sparse here. The city is home to the county fair, which offers a carnival, attractions, livestock, music, and competitions. All year round, there’s also the lake to visit, where visitors can fish, swim, and boat to their hearts’ content. There’s even a lake cruise people can take if they need some time to relax from the city’s otherwise bustling atmosphere.

5. Dallas

Dallas, TX

Source: Flickr user Roy Hensley

The second biggest city on our list, Dallas, comes in at No. 5 with 1,197,816 locals and a whole bunch of awesome things to do. If you’re a sports fan, look no further as Dallas is home to The Stars, The Rangers, The Cowboys, and The Mavericks, as well as countless minor league teams. If you’re more the artsy type, this city is still your friend with opera, ballet, and theater companies of all sorts. If you just want to hike and enjoy the scenery, you can make a trek to Katy Trail, or one of the numerous lakes nearby and just relax. Whatever you love to do, Dallas has you covered.

The Big D also has everything covered as far as the data goes. There’s tons of non-fast food restaurants and many music venues, both of which rank No. 11 for those categories on our list/ The nightlife is alive and well at No. 10, and 28.84 percent of the population is between 18 and 34, meaning this is a young and party-going place. If you’re hungry, you can also visit The Village Baking Co. for something new and exciting or just sweet and homey.

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6. San Marcos

San Marcose, TX

Source: Flickr user Antonio TwizShiz Edward

The city of San Marcos is exciting for all sorts of people. If you like to shop, there’s an outlet mall there that is generally considered one of the best places to shop in the US. for the lighthearted weirdos, there’s Wonder Cave and it’s theme park Wonder World, where the kids or kids at heart can have a good time. And, of course, for those who just want to party all night, the nightlife here ranks No. 3 on our list for that criterion.

The party doesn’t stop there, though. Music lovers will be happy to find that the music venues here are numerous, and hold an impressive ranking of No. 2 overall. This is one seriously youthful city, considering the population here is mostly between 34 and 18, 59.97 percent of the population to be exact. Why is that so high? The fact that it’s home to Texas State University might have something to do with that.

7. McAllen

McAllen, TX

Source: Flickr user Anthony Acostar

Those who like to stay active will love 129,877 person McAllen. From golf courses to bike paths, this city offers people who like fresh air and blue skies a chance to bask in the daylight. There are also numerous sports teams and the Rio Grande Speedway calls this place home and is sure to delight racing fans.

The nightlife here thrives too and ranks 8th on our list, so partygoers will never be bored. And if you’re the more refined type that would prefer a champagne cocktail to a cosmopolitan? McAllen has you covered there too, and ranks a surprising No. 2 in non-fast food restaurants. You might want to try El Divino Dining & Cocktails for the best of both worlds, considering they have fine dining, live music, and some mean mixed drinks all under one roof. Though there are also plenty of great fast food joints too and spots to get some wicked pizza.

8. Tyler

Tyler, TX

Source: Flickr user carterse

Tyler is all about all-seasons fun, and offers many attractions to help that out. Besides the 12th ranked music venues, this city offers its 96,900 inhabitants a plethora of museums, the Caldwell Zoo, and of course numerous festivals such as the Texas Rose Festival, held annually. Horse riders and enthusiasts can enjoy frequent competitions at the Texas Rose Horse Park, a premier place for riding and show. The East Texas State Fair is also held here, which means that for ten days, the population is treated to rides, games, exhibits, competitions, and more.

The other stats keep bringing the fun. Almost a third of the population here is between the ages of 34 and 18, and there are plenty of fast food and non-fast food restaurants to pick from. Staying active is also pretty easy, as the city ranks No. 20 for that criteria.

8. New Braunfels

New Braunfels, TX

Source: Flickr user rubengarciajrphotography

Besides having one of the more interesting names on our list, New Braunfels is also tied with Tyler for 8th place on our top 10 list. It’s smaller than most of our other places, at a comfortable 57,740, but still brings all the excitement in a big way. The place is always tooting its own horn, literally, in it’s No. 3 ranked music venues or at one of the many festivals held year round. It’s also a very active place during the day, and a hopping place at night as it holds fifth place in both those categories.

The events here can be pretty thrilling, besides the Comal County Fair and Rodeo, which includes such fun events as mutton bustin, locals can get their kicks through rafting, kids day events, and more. Because of the city’s german heritage (if you were wondering about that name) they also hold a yearly german-style sausage festival. And yes, we promise it’s the fun kind.

10. Bryan

Bryan, TX

Source: Flickr user pnebleu

Last on our top 10, but absolutely not least in fun, is the city of Bryan and it’s 76,201 locals. The city boasts ‘good life, Texas style,’ and boy does it mean it. Besides the ninth place music venues and 24th ranked nightlife, Bryan is home to a ton of parks to enjoy, good for adults, kids, and even dogs. Every holiday, there’s a big celebration meant for people of all ages to enjoy, even a snow-covered hill to sled on.

Bryan is definitely a place for the young and for the young of heart. For one, over a third of the population is between the ages of 18 and 34, which means that the youth vibe is strong and thriving here. There’s also golf to play, sports of all sorts to watch, and the college of Texas A&M is right next door for anyone who wants to indulge in the college-town lifestyle.  Foodies might also want to try highly rated Christopher’s World Grille, where the shrimp dishes are bound to tickle the tastebuds.

The Roaring and the Boring

Galveston was hardly the lone star of this state, but it certainly ranked at the top of our most exciting list. How could it not with all those thrills, chills, and fun things to do?

Whether it’s festivals, amusement parks, shopping, or dining, there’s plenty to choose from in this great state. If you don’t agree, and this is the internet so we’re sure a few of you don’t, feel free to grab the bull by the horns and leave us a message. Just remember to simmer down and to keep it classy. And we know you’re experts at remembering things, considering the Alamo.

Most Exciting Places in Texas

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posted on: April 22, 2014
132,087 views, 12 comments


  1. Sarah

    nailed it! Galveston, Austin, San Marcos, New Braunfels……. fabulous! In Galveston we always tell people ‘life is too short to live on the mainland”

  2. Lisa

    sshhh! now everyone will want to come to our little island.

  3. Mommy dearest

    Houston is horrible! San Antonio is awesome! Houston is just a pile of concrete. Don’t believe these people know what they are talking about. Definitely wasn’t based on how our great mayor has ripped us off on taxes and fees, etc & then using the money for her own pleasures. Our money Isi going to creating her killing fields. May look good now, except the bodies, but how much is it going to cost to maintain & pay for the police to patrol the killing fields? That doesn’t even include her & her lawyer buddy’s salaries that we didn’t get to vote on. What a ripoff for the citizens!

  4. dionispadron

    awsome blog but Fort Worth: Sundance, Moon Glow is best place where
    Fun in Fort Worth goes on all day into late night. In downtown’s Sundance Square, you can shop and dine and then see the stars at Bass Performance Hall. August’s bill features Kenny Rankin and Tony Bennett. If Bass Hall is too tame, get rowdy at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk down in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.

  5. Simon

    Denton TX should really be on this list!

  6. SRice

    Nacogdoches has Zip Nac, an awesome zipline adventure.

  7. mike

    This list has discrepancies with official lists. San Antonio is the number one tourist town in Texas.

  8. saul

    thank you for bringing to light Some cities or I should say boring!!cities wish otherwise wouldn’t of made the list.

  9. Saul

    San Antonio rakes in 12 billion dollars in the Tourist industry and it’s not on your list wow

  10. saul

    Again San Antonio rake in 12 billion in the tourism industry and it’s not on your list amazing

  11. M Love

    San Antonio’s tourism industry makes 12 Billion and it’s not on your list that’s to funny you guys are a joke!!!

  12. Really?

    Tyler? Haha. I grew up in Tyler and my mother and brother still live there so I visit often. When I graduated I couldn’t wait to get it in my rearview mirror. Great Restaurants? Zilch; nightlife? Zilch; Museums and theater district? Nonexistent. It hasn’t changed much since I left 25 years ago. Spend your money somewhere else in Texas. San Antonio is where my sister lives. I have much more fun visiting her and the Riverwalk. I have houses in Austin and Houston. Love both cities but they are different. Houston is big business and Austin a big playground. If you like biking, hiking and lakes as well as mainstream and indie bands head to Austin. Oh yeah they also have the best breakfast tacos. If you like professional sports teams, great theater and museums, amazing restaurants and oh yeah Shopping galore Houston’s your place. Rap music is also great in Houston. Hope this helps. As far as Dallas I’ll kindly leave that to others to describe as we sold our house there to buy one in Austin.


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