Here at the Movoto Real Estate
blog, we might kinda be number crunchers. We might not so secretly love to make lists and look at data and…okay, we’re total self-admitted nerds. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know excitement when we see it.
Especially when it comes in list form, about a state, created by the results of a numbers-based and unbiased analysis. Now that’s exciting.
This latest list is for you, South Dakota, and you’ve definitely earned the recognition. We’ve come up with the 10 most exciting places in your state. Here they are, starting with our unquestionable and unarguable winner, Vermillion:
1. City of Vermillion
2. City of Mobridge
3. City of Sturgis
4. City of Tea
5. City of Watertown
6. City of Yankton
7. City of Hot Springs (tie)
7. City of Dell Rapids (tie)
9. City of Rapid City (tie)
9. City of Spearfish (tie)
Were you expecting something a bit different? Well, as we’ve established, you can’t really argue with the analysis. It’s science.
To find out just how we came up with this list and why each of these places really are so exciting, just keep on reading.
How We Created This Ranking
We started by making a list of all the places in the state with populations of 3,000 people or more, which left us with a total of 25 places. Then, we used the U.S. Census 2010 and business listings to research each place according to the following:
- 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)
Next, we ranked each of these 25 places with a score from one to 25, according to the above criteria; the lower the number, the better the score. We averaged these rankings into an overall Big Deal Score
, where the lowest score was our most exciting place.
To see more than just these top 10, feel free to skip down to the end of the post where we’ll show you a complete ranking of all the places we looked at. Otherwise, find your party pants because up next, we’re taking a closer look at our top 10 most exciting places starting with our winner, Vermillion.
Source: Flickr user Ali Eminov
With just over 10,000 residents, Vermillion may not have exactly been the biggest city in the state, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t packed with excitement. In fact, it was just plain packed. It was the most densely-populated place in the state, with 2,624 people per square mile, and a whopping 54.67 percent of those people were between 18 and 34!
Of course this is mostly because Vermillion is home to the University of South Dakota… which also might explain the high number of nightlife venues, arts, and best of all, music venues—the third most per capita.
Source: Flickr user Lars Plougmann
Where as Vermillion was packed with young people, our second city was…not. At all. Matter of fact, it had one of the lowest percentages of people between 18 and 34 in the state.
Don’t let that deter you though. Even without a whole bunch of students milling about, this place still managed to have the second most nightlife options per capita, and with the fourth most tightly packed population, you’re bound to run into somebody interesting while you’re out and about.
Of course, the literal cherry on top was the food scene in Mobridge. Not only did it tie for first in the category of restaurants per capita, but it also tied for first for its lack of fast food per capita.
Source: Flickr user bk1bennett
This city may be best known for its annual (and absolutely massive) motorcycle rally, but as residents know, it’s plenty exciting here all year-round—especially if you like the nightlife, baby.
Out of all of the places we looked at, Sturgis had the most nightlife and music venues per capita—places like the Loud American Roadhouse and the Knuckle Saloon.
It also ranked second overall for its active life options, and even third for its number of art listings.
Source: Flickr user Abby Bischoff
Okay, going from a place famous for big men with tattoos, leather, and motorcycles to a city with a dainty name like “Tea” might seem somewhat anticlimactic, but don’t let this small city’s name fool you. It was plenty exciting.
Especially when it came to food. In Tea, there were more restaurants per capita than nearly anywhere else in the state. (Of course the Tea Steakhouse is all you really need.)
There were also 2,250 people per square mile here, with a population of just under 4,000 people. Well, you get the idea; you’re going to get to know your neighbors pretty well. Let’s just hope they’re exciting!
Source: City of Watertown
This affluent Codington County city has a whole lot more going on than nice houses—though, to be sure, those are pretty exciting too. But where it ranked well in our analysis was in its high number of music venues per capita, its restaurants per capita, and of course, more arts per capita than most place in the state.
But that's no real surprise. Watertown is home to the Redlin Art Center, along with several galleries, theaters, and if you’d prefer making the art yourself, plenty of stores to help you do it.
Source: Yankton Convention and Visitor's Bureau
No, we’re not yanking your chain; Yankton really did come in sixth on our list, and after looking at these numbers, it’s no wonder why. It had the fourth most active life options per capita—that’s gyms, rec centers, yoga studios, and even Karttrax Go-Kart and Family Fun Park where you can ride around in go-karts! (What? That’s active.)
It also came in sixth in both the categories of arts per capita and population density, with 1,761 people per square mile. To put that into perspective, just compare it to Box Elder, where there were only 561 people per square mile.
7. Hot Springs
Source: Flickr user Paul L Dineen
Hot Springs may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in things to do. Matter of fact, it ranked first overall for both its number of active life and arts listings per capita.
I mean, how many places with under 4,000 residents can say that they have two museums like Mammoth Site and Pioneer Museum and galleries and theaters to boot?
The answer is pretty much just Hot Springs. This place is awesome.
7. Dell Rapids
Source: Flickr user xmith xmith
Where our first No. 7 city wowed us with arts and active life, Dell Rapids came in high on our list for some other reasons. Starting with everyone’s favorite: food. This city had more restaurants per capita than 17 other places we looked at and less fast food than 16.
It was also the fifth most densely-populated place in the state, so you’re bound to run into somebody interesting to take to dinner.
9. Rapid City
Source: Flickr user Joe Wolf
As far as South Dakota city names go, Rapid City’s seems to describe it pretty well. This city of nearly 70,000 residents was fast-paced, exciting, and active (the third most active life listings in the state, actually.)
It was also a great place to catch some music, with the fifth most music venues per capita in the state. With unique places like Prairie Edge Trading & Galleries, Art Alley, and, you know, pretty much all of downtown, Rapid City ranked among the best for its arts per capita as well.
Source: Flickr user Andy Smith
Coming in as our second No. 9 and bringing our list to a close is Spearfish. This Lawrence County city ranked well in our analysis for its generally young and fun vibe. I mean, 33.42 percent of its residents were between 18 and 34, which is pretty exciting as is; but it also ranked third for its nightlife and second for both its music venues and arts per capita.
Despite the almost magically delicious presence of restaurants like Dough Trader Pizza Company, Barbacoa’s, and Bay Leaf Cafe, the only area that Spearfish kind of…well, completely bombed it, was in its number of restaurants per capita, ranking 25th here. But hey—quality, not quantity, right guys?
What You Know About That?
We know all about that, when it comes to excitement! Okay, that totally just pegged us as even bigger nerds, but really, as home-sellers, list-makers, and all around Saturday night scientists, we do know all about finding you the most exciting place to live. In this case, hands down, it’s Vermillion.
Way to go, Coyotes!