Out of all of the states in the nation, Oregon may well be the most naturally beautiful (don’t believe us, just watch this), among the most desirable, and certainly one of the best homes for hipsters. This is all fine and dandy, but what about exciting? Is Oregon exciting?
According to the latest analysis here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, the answer is a resounding “yes,” especially for the 10 places below. Beginning with the state’s clear winner, Ashland, home to the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, cabaret, museums, and all kinds of thrills; here are the 10 most exciting places in the Beaver State.
1. City of Ashland
2. City of Portland
3. City of Lake Oswego
4. City of Eugene
5. City of Bend
6. City of Coos Bay
7. City of Redmond
8. City of Klamath Falls
9. City of Corvallis
9. City of Milwaukie
9. City of La Grande
Yes, that’s right, the small city of Ashland came in as No. 1 over Portland. Surprised? Well, keep reading to find out how we got this ranking, and just what makes Ashland, and all of these other places, so very exciting.
How We Created This Ranking
As with any of our Big Deal Lists, we started out with a list of the state’s largest places; all of the cities, towns, and places with populations of 10,000 people or more. This left us with a grand (and exciting!) total of 54 places. From there, we used the U.S. Census and business listings to get the relevant data for 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)
We ranked our 54 places with scores from one to 54 across all of these criteria, the lower the number, the better. Then, we averaged these rankings into an overall Big Deal Score, again, with the lowest number indicating the most exciting place. In this case, as we mentioned before, the honor went to Ashland.
If you can handle the excitement, keep reading to find out just why Ashland, along with these other nine places, ranked so well in our analysis. Otherwise, feel free to head down to the bottom of our post where you’ll find a complete table of all the places’ rankings.
Residents of Ashland are probably not surprised by its No. 1 ranking; after all, this city is the home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lithia Park, the Oregon Cabaret Theater, and, of course, Mix Sweet Shop (all of which sre reason enough to live here, really).
In our analysis, Ashland ranked particularly well for its active life, arts, nightlife, and number of music venues per capita. It also had a high number of non-fast food restaurants per capita with places like Amuse, Wiley’s Pasta Co., and Greenleaf Restaurant, just to name a few.
Portland may be best known as a sort of hipster mecca, a land of ironic mustaches, healthy living, and, if “Portlandia” is anything to go off of, plenty of outdoorsy types like Kath and Dave… who can’t even really pitch a tent.
But as our analysis showed, Portland is way more than the city where Pabst Blue Ribbon is more common than water (it’s not, by the way). It is filled with tons of nightlife, music venues, a vibrant art scene, and more active life options than residents know what to do with as well.
Portland is home to restaurants like Andina, Little Bird, and Pok Pok (some of the best Thai around); but surprisingly, this health-conscious city is also home to plenty of fast food joints, ranking 36th in this category.
3. Lake Oswego
Out of all 54 places we looked at in our analysis, Lake Oswego really stood out in one category in particular: its young population. A whopping 28 percent of residents in this city are between the ages of 18 and 34, a good nine percent higher than nearby Portland, and even 12 percent higher than that of Eugene, home to the University of Oregon.
You might think that with such a young population, Lake Oswego might have more to offer in the way of nightlife and music venues; but according to our analysis, this city ranked better for its active life, lack of fast food restaurants, and high number of good (as in non-fast food) restaurants per capita, including delicious gluten-free options at Scratch. Young, fit, and health-conscious? Sounds pretty exciting to us.
Eugene is the second largest city in the state, and also one of the most densely populated, ranking 15th in this criterion. Aside from literally being packed with people, Eugene ranked well for its nightlife, arts, and non-fast food restaurants per capita, including the locally loved Marche, Ta Rin Thai, and, of course, Voodoo Doughnut (which may not exactly be healthy, but is just delicious).
Interestingly, even though Eugene is home to the University of Oregon, with such a large population overall, it still did not rank among the best for its percent of people between the ages of 18 to 34; in fact, in came in at 36th in this category, behind nearly all of the cities in our top 10.
Bend may be best known as an outdoorsman’s dream world, and for good reason. It’s the home of the Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Sparks Lake, Hosmer Lake, Tumalo Falls, and so many more. It’s no wonder Bend ranked so well in our analysis for its number of active life options per capita; second only to Ashland.
If Bend’s breathtaking beauty and outdoor adventures aren’t enough to keep you busy, though, there is plenty more excitement in this city; particularly when it comes to arts and entertainment. There are galleries galore, like Tumalo Art. There’s Tower Theatre, the Tin Pan Theater, and festivals like Arts in the High Desert for performance lovers.
Once you’re completely exhausted from spending the day outside and your night at the theater, Bend has plenty of exciting restaurants per capita as well.
6. Coos Bay
Coos Bay is home to Shore Acres State Park, a lovely art museum, and, of course, the locally famous Cranberry Sweets.
This coastal city is not only a nice place to raise a family; it’s also a pretty darn exciting place for the younger population. In fact, 21 percent of Coos Bay residents are between the ages of 18 and 34, which may have a little something to do with this city’s high rank in nightlife per capita; fourth in this category.
Coos Bay also seems to be full of excitement when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, ranking 12th overall for both its active life options and non-fast food restaurants per capita (though let’s be honest, if you like Italian, Little Italy may be all the restaurant you’ll ever need in Coos Bay!)
Redmond may be well known for some of the most beautiful golf courses and resorts in the state, but even if your tastes are a little more…fast-paced than a game of golf, chances are this city has something for you.
Not only are there plenty of active life options here (yes, including golf), there are also plenty of nightlife options. There is the Red Martini Wine Bar and Grill, Seventh Street Brewhouse, and even Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.
If you’d prefer your excitement on a plate, rather than in a bottle, Redmond has a variety of eateries as well, ranking 14th for its non-fast food restaurants per capita.
8. Klamath Falls
Klamath Falls’ motto is “working for you,” and according to our analysis, yes it is. Especially for the young folks. That’s because with 22 percent of its population between the ages of 18 and 34, Klamath Falls is packed with nightlife venues per capita, like Creamery Brew Pub and Waldo’s, just to name a couple.
It’s also packed with arts and entertainment, like the Favell Museum of Western Art & Indian Artifacts; and it’s packed, quite literally, with people. Out of all 54 places we looked at, Klamath Falls ranked third for its population density; one of the major reasons it ranked eighth, rather than tie at ninth, like the rest of our list. Speaking of which…
The first of the No. 9s on our list is Corvallis. This Benton County city of just over 54,000 residents was one of the most densely populated in the state, ranking 11th in this category.
People don’t seem to be the only thing it is packed with; it also seems to have a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, plenty of options for an active lifestyle, and a high number of non-fast food restaurants and nightlife venues per capita. Okay, you may not think an ice cream shop counts as a restaurant, but after visiting the locally famous Francesco’s Gelato, you might reconsider.
The honor of our second ninth place spot goes to the exciting city of Milwaukie. What makes this Milwaukie famous—at least in our analysis? The food. Not only did Milwaukie rank well for its number of restaurants, it also earned points for its lack of fast food.
Food is such a big thing in this city, that if you look up things to do in Milwaukie, some of the first suggestions are places like like Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Dave’s Killer Bread.
Fine dining more your speed? Head to Amadeus Manor, an Austrian lounge restaurant overlooking the Willamette River. Your taste buds will be thrilled.
9. La Grande
The final spot on our list, and the final No. 9, goes to the small (very small) city of La Grande. With just over 13,000 residents, La Grande is easily the tiniest on our list, but as our analysis shows, exciting things can clearly come in small packages.
Not only did La Grande rank No. 2 overall for its number of arts and entertainment options per capita, it also ranked fourth for its number of music venues, like the Gadfly, and 13th for its number of non-fast food restaurants per capita.
Not only does it have a number of restaurants, but also a wide variety of cuisine types, as residents undoubtedly know. There is Mamacita’s for Mexican, Moy’s Dynasty for Asian, Ten Depot for steak, and if you’re craving something a little more down home, Hought’s 24 Flavors is all the excitement your mouth could ask for.
Beautiful And Exciting? Some States Just Have Everything
It certainly seems as though Oregon has everything, from natural beauty and outdoor activities, to restaurants, nightlife, and everything in between. Of course some places within the state are more exciting than others—just look at these top 10 for the clear winners. And if you’re interested in knowing which places ranked the lower on our list… well, just take a look at the table below.