The lighter side of real estate

These Are The Most Exciting Places In Maryland

Looking for some thrills in Maryland? Find out where you’ll be free to have the most fun in the Free State.

Laura Allan

112 articles, 1 comments

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With summer just around the corner, it’s prime festival season in Maryland. Sports are here again and it’s getting fun to be outdoors once more. So where should you be to experience the most fun there is to be had in the state?

Here on the Movoto Real Estate Blog, we’re quite fond of ranking things. You might even say we find it fun. So when we have the chance to make a list about fun places, the thrill for us is doubled. Maryland is certainly a thrilling place in general, so it was natural that we’d work to find the 10 most spine tingling, high-octane places there.

We put on some upbeat music, checked out all the wild and wacky festivals in the state, got hyped about our numbers, and eventually determined this top 10 list of places, lead by the most exciting of them all, Annapolis:

1. City of Annapolis
2. Silver Spring CDP
3. City of Baltimore
4. City of Gaithersburg
5. City of College Park
6. Bethesda CDP
7. Parkville CDP
8. City of Rockville
9. City of Laurel
10. Towson CDP

If you’re wondering how exactly we got this ranking, wonder no more. We’ll explain it all in detail in the next section. Yes, it’s math related, but we’ll promise to keep it short and upbeat.

How We Created This Ranking

We started with a list of the 57 most populated places in the state (20,000 people or more). We based our analysis on seven criteria, using data from the 2010 U.S. Census and business listings:

  • 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, because fast food is boring)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)

Once we had that data, we ranked each place from 1 to 57 in these criteria, with one being the best. We then averaged those rankings into a Big Deal Score for each place, and the spot with the lowest score was our most exciting.

Now that you know how we did it, let’s get to the good stuff: the 10 most exciting places in Maryland.

1. Annapolis

Annapolis, MD

Source: Flickr user DVIDSHUB

It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this place came in at No. 1, seeing as it’s home to St. John’s College as well as the United States Naval Academy. Knowing that, it’s not really a shocker that people between the ages of 18 and 34 make up over a quarter of the population, ranking No. 12 for that criteria.

Annapolis had the No. 1 ranking in nightlife venues per capita, music venues per capita, active life options per capita, and arts per capita. The place also scored fairly well in the non-fast food restaurants category, ranking at No. 17 with such eateries as the Sin Fronteras Cafe.

2. Silver Spring

Silver Spring, MD

Source: Flickr user Adam Fagen

Silver Spring is a city that ranked well everywhere across the board. The 71,452 people who live there are treated to the eighth most music venues per capita and the eighth most active life opportunities. People into the arts will find the No. 9 ranked facilities a welcome dose of culture, and foodies will enjoy the 19th ranked non-fast food restaurants.

This place also knows how to party without skipping out on style or culture. In particular, Silver Spring knows a thing or two about the silver screen, or at least movies in general. The American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Culture Center calls this city home, as does the Silverdocs film festival and Docs in Progress.

3. Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

Source: Flickr user Liz Kasameyer

Some people might be surprised that this major city didn’t rank No. 1. We’ll be the first to assure you that this is one seriously exciting place, and ranked very close to the top 2 places in its Big Deal Score.

Baltimore had the No. 3 nightlife ranking and the No. 4 population density. While young population ranking is only 10th, the music venues were 12th and the arts were ranked 13th. Really there’s not a genuinely bad ranking for Baltimore, and the boring fast food per capita ranking was 29th, which was the best score in our top 10.

4. Gaithersburg

Gaithersburg, MD

Source: City of Gaithersburg

Our No. 4 place is home to 59,933 people as well as some seriously awesome things to do. If you’re looking to keep active and get out of the house, this place has the No. 4 ranked active life options. If you’re looking to rock out and listen to some tunes, this place has the No. 9 ranked music venues, and you can listen to live music at Star Diner.

If you’re the more sophisticated type, this place has the No. 12 rank for arts. Basically, no matter what tickles your fancy, Gaithersburg probably has something for you. And if you like festivals, there’s definitely one for you. Craft festivals, music festivals, olde town festivals, and even a book festival all take place in Gaithersburg.

5.College Park

College Park, MD

Source: University of Maryland

We’ll start with the biggest factor, and that was decisively the population age. The young population here ranked first by a landslide, considering that a staggering 70 percent of locals are between the ages of 18 to 34.

The place also has the No. 3 music venue ranking and the No. 13 nightlife ranking. Again, with a name like College Park, that probably makes sense.

Speaking of colleges, this place is home to the University of Maryland, which offers a ton of awesome events and venues for fun. Of course, there’s college sports and concerts to attend, as well as art exhibits and festivals.

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6. Bethesda

Bethesda, MD

Source: Conference & Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County

Bethesda’s young population rank was 50th overall, with merely 16.7 percent of people being between the ages of 18 and 34. However, this city shows that the older crowd knows how to party and have fun, too.

Bethesda had the fifth ranked active life options and the eighth place nightlife. The arts options were the second most per capita on our overall list, which means you can party in the clubs or enjoy a little culture—whatever suits your fancy.

This place also excelled when it come to exciting dining. There were fewer boring fast food options than other cities in our top 10, and the non-fast food restaurant options ranked No. 9 for that criterion. If you need more proof than just the hard data, you can stop by M & N’s Pizza for either a slice or some indian food. Yeah, I know it sounds like a weird combination, but locals say it’s awesome.

7. Parkville

Parkville, MD

Source: Flickr user David Hahn

While Parkville may not have ranked No. 1 in any particular area, it posted some really solid numbers across the board. Some of this probably has to do with the dense population, ranked fifth, and the No. 17 young population ranking, with more than a quarter of the population being between 18 and 34.

Parkville also ranked fifth in nightlife and fourth in music venues per capita. The No. 19 ranking for arts wasn’t half bad either. There aren’t quite as many active life option here, ranked third for that criterion, but there’s still a lot to do and see in this little locale.

8. Rockville

Rockville, MD

Source: Flickr user Dan Reed

With a name like Rockville, you’ve got to offer some serious excitement, and this city definitely delivers. This place had the second most active life options and the ninth best nightlife.

If you’re more interested in culture, the city had the sixth best score for arts per capita and had a slightly older population, ranking only No. 38 for youth. If you’re looking for something eclectic, you can hit the Free State Roller Derby for an adrenaline-filled good time. Really, this city has something for all types of people.

And of course, with a name like Rockville, there’s got to be music. This city has the 10th best music venues per capita, with places like the F Scott Fitzgerald Theater and the Keeger Auditorium. Each year there’s also the Uncorked wine and music festival. Rock on, Rockville!

9. Laurel

Laurel, MD

Source: Flickr user eddie welker

As far as events go, Laurel has LakeFest in May, an Independence Day celebration each July, a Main Street Festival, and RiverFest, which happens each October. It’s all festivals all the time, usually involving music, food and fun for all sorts of people.

Laurel didn’t fall short as far as other exciting things to do. There’s a skating rink, a dinosaur park, laser tag, and so much more. It makes sense that the young population is ranked No. 8 here, considering all these youthful fun options.

The numbers also back up all these great amenities. Laurel held the No. 4 spot for nightlife and the No. 6 spot for active life. The arts here ranked No. 3 and the music venues per capita rank No. 14.

10. Towson

Towson, MD

Source: Flickr user Ben Snyder

A third of Towson’s population was between the ages of 18 and 34, and its nightlife ranked No. 11 with venues like Recher Theater. The arts ranked 14th and the active life 18th. Though the non-fast food restaurant options may have only ranked 26, there are still some great options for foodies of all varieties, including Pollo Amigo.

Towson is home to Towson University, which probably helps account for its youthful population as well as the variety of party options. As far as events go, the place puts on a yearly spring festival that offers music, food games, and more. If you’re looking for more wild parties and events, you might be able to ask the students about Tigerfest, which is arguably their biggest event.

Where To Stay Merry In Maryland

Whether it’s arts and culture you want, or you’re more into the loud rock party scene, Maryland’s got at least 10 cities that can cater to your love of adrenaline and joy.

Annapolis lead the pack as a place with a young vibe, great music scene, and awesome arts. We will also give a shout out to small locales Takoma Park and Hyattsville for being pretty darn exciting. So even if these top 10 are a little too big for your liking, you can still find fun just about anywhere in the state, if you know where to look.

Most Exciting Places in Maryland

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posted on: May 30, 2014
5,524 views, 1 comment

One Comment

  1. nicole g

    Parkville really?… and recher theatre has been closed for like 2 or 3 years in towson


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