Louisiana is known for having some serious party cities. Everyone has heard of the epic Mardis Gras in New Orleans, and the rich cajun traditions and style that thrives in this state. You have to assume, though, that some places simply know how to party better than others.
That raises the question: what place is the most exciting in Louisiana?
Good thing we’re here to find out for you. The Movoto Real Estate Blog looked at the numbers, got jealous of all the great parties, and drooled over some pictures of tasty looking turtle soup, and then produced the following ranking of the 10 most spine tingling and thrilling places to be found in Louisiana:
1. City of New Orleans
2. City of Houma
3. City of Gretna
4. Morgan City
5. City of Lake Charles
6. City of Thibodaux
7. City of Lafayette
8. City of Opelousas
9. City of Baton Rouge
10. City of Hammond
No.1 won’t be much of a shocker for anyone who’s been there, but what about the other locations on our list, and how exactly did we make this ranking? All that and more will be answered in the very next section.
How We Created This Ranking
Research is pretty boring for most folks, be we find it downright titillating. We’ve done these sorts of rankings many times before, but just in case you’re late to the party, let’s fill you in on how we do this.
First, we make a list of the most populated places in a state over 10,000 people, which in this case was an even 50 places. We then gathered data from the 2010 U.S. Census (2010) and business listings. We looked at seven exciting criteria for each place:
- 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)
After we had the data, we ranked each place from 1 to 50 in these criteria, with one being the best. We then averaged each place’s sub-scores into one overall Big Deal Score, with a lower average being better. The place with the lowest average became our winner, New Orleans.
You can find a ranking of all 50 places at the end of this article, but before you do that, let’s take a closer look at each of our exciting top 10 in more detail.
1. New Orleans
It really shouldn’t be any surprise that this place is No. 1 on our list. Most of the U.S. just thinks of this place as one big party, and they’re not entirely wrong. Mardis Gras, jazz festivals, sports, live music, diverse culture—the list of things happening here just goes on and on. At this point, it might just be prudent to ask what this massive city doesn’t have going for it?
What’s more is that the raw data backs up that party city stereotype. The nightlife per capita here ranked third on our list, as did the music venues per capita. The population here is very young, the eighth youngest on our list, giving a youthful vibe to this historic city.
There are plenty of non-fast food restaurants to choose from here, such as the very highly rated Commander’s Palace. There were less active life options than most other cities in our top 10, but we’ll just assume that everyone is too busy partying and eating jambalaya to head to a gym.
The 33,727 residents here are lucky enough to have the fifth highest percentage of non-fast food restaurants and the sixth most active life options. The nightlife per capita here was also amazing, ranking second best for that criterion. If you’re more into music, this place has you covered for that, too, with the No. 9 music venue ranking.
So, why isn’t this place sitting pretty at No. 1? Mostly because of the high number of fast food restaurants per capita as well as the No. 23 ranking for young population. All that means is that the slightly older crowd (35 and up) will get to enjoy places like Cristiano Italian Restaurant or The Boxer & The Barrel without a bunch of youngins spoiling the experience. Older folks know how to party too, you know.
This small place has no shortage of big fun. The nightlife per capita ranked No. 1 here, with around 50 different venues for locals to choose from, including the quirky Murphy’s Brew House.
Maybe you prefer to get out and play, rather than partying the night away. Gretna can help, with the eighth highest number of active life options per capita. The non-fast food ranking here was sixth, making this one unique and exciting little city.
4. Morgan City
This is definitely the smallest city that we looked at, with a population of 12,404, but its numbers might just surprise you. The nightlife per capita here actually ranked the sixth best on our list, and the active life per capita ranked a fantastic No. 2. That might seem shocking for a place so little, but Morgan City is home to spots like Friend’s Tavern and Legends, which keep the bar scene truly alive.
There was a fair amount of uninteresting fast food, which does make sense considering this is a crossroads between many different large city areas, and travelers do love their fast food. The city does say in its slogan that it’s “right in the middle of everywhere,” after all.
5. Lake Charles
Though not entirely a college town, our fifth place city certainly has a lot of that feeling to it, which is, of course, pretty exciting. The music venues per capita ranked seventh and the nightlife ranked in the top third of the list for that criterion.
There were a decent number of non-fast food restaurants available and plenty of active life options for those looking to get outdoors. Plus, over a quarter of the population here is between the ages of 18 and 34, thanks in part to McNeese State University, which is located in the city.
If you want sports, you can head over to Cowboy Stadium to watch some football or the Burton Coliseum for basketball. If you want some culture, you can see a show at L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort. Really, what isn’t there to do?
Nearly a third of the 14,566 people in Thibodaux are between the ages of 18 and 34, making this place pretty youthful. That makes some sense, because the city is home to Nicholls State University, which has about half as many students as the total population of the city. This means that for part of the year, about half this place is made up for students. Wow.
This fact also probably accounts for the stellar rankings in music venues per capita and nightlife per capita, where Thibodaux ranked No. 2 and No. 4, respectively. Where this place did less amazingly wss in the number of non-fast food restaurants compared to fast food places, where it ranked 32nd. Still, you can still find such gems as Fremins, where they have amazing seafood dishes.
Our No. 7 city is all about events all year round. There are so many festivals we can’t even mention them all, but they do include such standouts as the Cajun Heartland State Fair, Le Festival de Mardi Gras à Lafayette, the Gulf Brew, and the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. If it’s music, if it’s culture, if it’s food, or if it’s drinks, have no doubt that this place is probably going to be celebrating it at some point during the year.
Besides all the fun perks, this place also boasted some pretty strong numbers across the board to secure its spot in the top 10. The population here is quite young, with almost a third of the population being between the ages of 18 and 34. There’s plenty of nightlife, some music venues, and lots of non-fast food restaurants to try, with no single stat ranking in the bottom half of our list. Basically, Lafayette is all excitement all the time in every category you could ask for.
Opelousas (pronounced OH-puh-LOO-sus according to a local) took our No. 8 ranking overall mostly due to the food and fun options in the city. There are a ton of events all year round if you’re looking for something exciting or unusual to do. Options include the The Yambilee Festival, the Holy Ghost Creole Festival, and Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival.
Just by the numbers Opelousas is the kind of place you want to go to for a bite to eat. There are few samey fast food places, and plenty of unique eateries, so this place ranked third for non-fast food restaurants. There are not a lot of music venues or active life options, but there is a small and thriving nightlife to indulge in, featuring one-of-a-kind places such as Slim’s Y-Ki-Ki.
9. Baton Rouge
Another bigger city made it into the top 10 with Baton Rouge and its 229,493 locals. One third of said locals are between the ages of 18 and 34, which gives this place a lot of spring in its youthful step.
This city was also 17th for nightlife due to happening places like The Bulldog, which has a really cool fountain. There are also a fair amount of music venues per capita, as well as active life options, which kept this city easily in the No. 9 spot.
As far as unique things to do, Baton Rouge has a ton. The Bayou Country Superfest in particular is a lot of fun for all sorts of people. There is also a massive St. Patrick’s day celebration and Mardis Gras festival every year.
Though it’s last on our top 10, this city is hardly the least exciting in the state. Hammond is home to 20,019 people who definitely know how to party.
Well over a third of the population is between the ages of 18 and 34, due to the fact that the city is home to Southeastern Louisiana University which has an enrollment of over 14,000 students. That young population is probably a main reason that this place ranked eighth in both nightlife and active life options per capita.
Where Y’at, Fun? In Louisiana
With places like New Orleans standing strong as hubs of interest, excitement, and constant activity, it’s easy to see why Louisiana is such a fun state. If you’d like to see where your city ranked, check out the table below and don’t forget to laissez les bons temps rouler!