Mississippi is one of the friendliest, most charming, and most downright quintessential southern states in the country—plus it’s home of the world’s largest cactus plantation. (Always something to brag about.)
But friendly faces and succulents aside, is the Hospitality State really all that exciting? Well, according to the latest analysis here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, why yes, yes it is. Particularly in Biloxi.
Of course, Biloxi wasn’t the only southern city to knock our socks off with so many things to do; here are the 10 most exciting places in Mississippi (don’t worry, you can keep your socks on):
1. City of Biloxi
2. City of Oxford
3. City of Starkville
4. City of Jackson
5. City of Ridgeland
6. City of Columbus
7. City of Hattiesburg
8. City of Vicksburg
9. City of Meridian
10. City of Gulfport
If you’re wondering how in the Hattiesburg we came up with this list, just keep reading. We’ll go over the method behind our analysis, plus, take a closer look at what exactly made each of these places so very thrilling.
How We Created This Ranking
Like in our other Big Deal Lists, we started out by paying a visit to the oh-so-exciting U.S. Census, and gathering a list of Mississippi’s 20 largest places. Then, we used the Census and business listings to research each place according to the following eight criteria:
- 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)
- Population density (the higher the better)
If we could not get data for a place, it was left off of our list.
We then ranked each place with a score from one to 20, according to the above criteria, with those earning lower scores being more exciting places. We averaged these rankings for an overall Big Deal Score, again, where the lowest score was our most exciting place. That’s you, Biloxi.
To check out a complete list of how our 20 places ranked, you can skip down to the end of the post and look at our nifty chart. Otherwise, we’ll take a closer look at just what makes each of these places so much more exciting, than the rest, starting with our winner.
Forget about the Biloxi Blues—there’s way too much going on in this city to feel down. And if you do, this is a good spot to dance your troubles away, as Biloxi ranked No. 1 in the category of nightlife and No. 2 for its music venues per capita.
If boogieing ain’t your thing, well, you can always eat your way to euphoria. Biloxi came in at No. 2 for its number of restaurants per capita, as well; places like Half Shell Oyster House, Mary Mahoney’s, and, of course, Jazzeppi’s.
And the cherry on top of this delicious city: Biloxi is made up of a high percentage of young people (29.97 percent) so even if you’re not into wining, dining, or dancing, you are bound to meet somebody entertaining and lively to hang around with.
This city is fun for all, but it’s downright buzzing for those between the ages of 18 and 34—which is actually a majority of the population here; 51.96 percent.
That’s because in addition to being the home of some great bars and more nightlife per capita than 17 other places we looked at, Oxford is also home to the University of Mississippi (hence all the bars).
Even more impressive than its number of bars, though, are its number of music venues and arts listings per capita, where it ranked first and second respectively.
And if you’re less into creative expression and more into, well, eating, Oxford also ranked highly for its number of restaurants per capita. Our suggestion? Start with Ajax Diner and work your way to Z.
Starkville may not have the crazy high number of young people that Oxford does, but at 45.39 percent, it’s pretty darn close. In fact, it’s largely due to all these youngins (mostly MSU students) that Starkville is so exciting.
It is home to the Magnolia Film Festival, the Cotton District Arts Festival, Old Main Music Festival, the Dudy Gras Parade, the Ragtime and Jazz Music Festival, and Bulldog Bash; so it’s no surprise that it ranked fifth in the category of arts per capita.
Where it really shined, though, was for its cuisine, ranking No. 1 for its high number of restaurants per capita.
With a population of over 173,000 people—27.57 percent of which are between the ages of 18 and 34—it may come as something of a surprise that Jackson came in No. 1 for fast food. That is, for its lack of fast food.
It also placed well for its number of music venues and non-fast food restaurants per capita like Parlor Market, Two Sisters’ Kitchen, and, of course, Walker’s Drive-In (which, despite its name, is not fast food at all).
Plus, it’s the most densely populated place in the state, so no matter what you’re out doing, you’re bound to run into somebody exciting.
Always a good indication of how exciting a place: how active and healthy its residents are. After all, if you can’t be bothered to do more than lift the remote, how can you be expected to enjoy your city’s arts, restaurants, or culture?
Luckily, Ridgeland seems to have a lot of all of these, starting with active life options, where it ranked No. 1. As far as arts go, there is the Mississippi Crafts Center, Easely Amused, and other of art stores and galleries to choose from; and for restaurants, there seems to be a little something for everyone. (Of course you can’t go wrong with a burger from Krilakis.)
As if the shrimp and grits at Huck’s Place were not reason enough to move to Columbus straightaway, according to our analysis, this city is simply filled with deliciousness, ranking fourth overall for its restaurants per capita.
It also came in high in the category of nightlife per capita, ranking sixth here, with places like the Princess Theatre, Zachary’s, and Sey’s Sports Bar and Grill, just to name a few.
But seriously: the shrimp and grits. Your mouth will thank you later.
Home to the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University, it’s no surprise that this college town has a ton of young people, which to be more specific, means 39.92 of its population are between 18 and 34.
So what do those 18 to 34 year olds like to do in Hattiesburg? Apparently, go out. Hattiesburg ranked second for its number of nightlife venues per capita and eighth for its music venues, active life, and arts listings.
Don’t know where to start? Try Keg & Barrel; it’s where most people start, anyway. Now, whether or not you’ll remember where you go next is a different question.
If arts and entertainment are what get you excited, Vicksburg may just be the place for you.
Every year, this exciting little city plays host to the Miss Mississippi Pageant and Parade and the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club homecoming reunion. It’s also home to one of the most beautifully designed city halls in the South, a sight to behold for any art lover. It ranked No. 1 for its arts listings per capita.
But the excitement didn’t stop there. Vicksburg also ranked well for an active lifestyle, with the third most active listings out of anywhere in our analysis.
It may not seem like Meridian has a huge number of music venues when you’re comparing it to, say, Jackson, but remember, we’re talking per capita here. So with a population of just over 41,000, places like Rhythm and Brews, the Sun Nightclub, and Kouture really make a difference.
Per capita, Meridian also had a lot of active life listings (think gyms, sporting good stores, etc.), and arts (crafts stores, galleries, theaters, and of course, the Riley Center).
Plus, this city is home to a little hidden gem by the name of Pappy’s. It is a barbecue joint inside a gas station, but don’t let that dissuade you. The ribs are amazing, the coleslaw is awesome, and if you can get around the smell of fuel, your mouth is in for some excitement.
The final spot on this exciting list goes to none other than Gulfport. Why? Because bars, that’s why.
Gulfport came in with the fourth most nightlife venues per capita out of anywhere in our analysis, including bars like Irish Coast Pub and The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint (obviously also a good place for barbecue and of course, sweet potato casserole).
This city also ranked well for a high population density, with 1,219 people per square mile. To put that into perspective for you, another of our top 10, Vicksburg only has 723 people per square mile, and least dense of them all, Clinton, has 603.
More than Just A Friendly Face
Mississippi, you may be known as one of the friendliest and most hospitable states, but don’t worry, you’re not just the guy with the “good personality”; you’re also an exciting place to visit, and even better, to live. Especially you, Biloxi.
And if you want to see more than just these top 10, look no further than the table below. We expect you’ll find it pretty fascinating, just like Mississippi.