There are more than 15 places in this tiny state, but they are all so very, very tiny that they were nearly impossible to research. So, of the 15 cities, towns, and villages that we were actually able to investigate (and spot on a map), the Saturday Night Scientists here at the Movoto Real Estate
Blog have worked our magic once again to bring you the most exciting spots.
And the winner? Burlington, of course, the state’s only city with more people than you can fit in a high school football stadium. But it wasn’t the only place with big excitement in this small state. Here are the 10 most exciting places in Vermont:
1. City of Burlington
2. City of Winooski
3. Town of Brattleboro
4. Town of Springfield
4. City of Newport
6. Town of Middlebury
7. City of Montpelier
8. Town of St. Albans
9. City of Rutland
10. Village of Bellows Falls
If you’re wondering how we came up with this exciting order, keep your flannel on and keep reading to find out the method behind this list and just why each of these places was so exciting.
How We Created This Ranking
Now, usually when we create a Big Deal List
, we’ll start out with all of the places in the state with 25,000 people or more, or perhaps the 50 largest places.
But seeing as Vermont is the second least populated state in the U.S. (after Wyoming), we had to cut back a bit, and gathered all of the places with populations of 3,000 or more—which left us with only 15 places. (Did we say Vermont was small? We meant tiny!)
From there, we used business listings and the U.S. Census (2010) to research each place in terms of the following 10 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 each of these places with a score from one to 15, with the lowest score being the best. Then, we averaged these rankings into one overall Big Deal Score, again, where the lowest score was our most exciting place, Burlington.
For a look at the entire lengthy list of the 15 places we looked at and how each ranked, you can pop down to the end of the post. First, though, we’re going to take a closer look at each of our winners.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot going on on Burlington; after all, it is the state’s largest city by at least 20,000 people.
But—fun fact!—did you know that Burlington also had the youngest population in the state, with 48.96 percent of residents between the ages of 18 and 34? Okay, you may have known that, too, seeing as it is home to the University of Vermont, Burlington College, and Champlain College.
But, did you know that Burlington is the second most densely populated place in the state, and the third best for nightlife? Yep, with places like One-Half Lounge, Red Square Bar & Grill, Ri Ra Irish Pub, and more, residents of this college town have plenty of extracurricular options.
Aside from having the obvious funnest name out of anyplace on our list, Winooski ranked well for a number of reasons—a majority of which had to do with food, as it ranked No. 1 for both its lack of fast food and its number of restaurants per capita.
Of course this won’t surprise residents too much, who are spoiled—we mean lucky enough—to have places like Misery Loves Co, Tiny Thai Restaurant, and Pho Dang right in their backyards.
And they practically are right in their backyards, as this city is the most densely populated in the state. Convenient not only for grabbing a bite to eat, but for easy mingling with some of the 38.41 percent of the population between 18 and 34.
This oldest town in Vermont is well known for its bustling arts community, so it’s probably no surprise that it came in at No. 1 in this category. But what may surprise you is that it also came in at No. 1 in the nightlife category, with more bars, clubs, etc. per capita than anywhere else we looked at.
And with a No. 2 ranking in both the categories of music venues and active life listings per capita, it looks like Brattleboro isn’t doing too shabby in staying fit or entertained either.
In fact, the only category where Brattleboro didn’t do well was in fast food. Out of all of the places we looked at, this town had the most fast food per capita.
We guess sometimes those Marlboro College Center and SIT grad students just need some Wendy’s. Usually at 12 a.m.
This little town of just under 4,000 residents may not exactly be the youngest place on our list (it isn’t the oldest either; that honor went to Bennington), but that certainly doesn’t mean that residents don’t know how to have a good time.
In fact, out of the 15 places we looked at, Springfield came in first for its active life listings per capita and second for its nightlife.
So whether you’re more into throwing back a few pints at the Black Bear Pub or throwing together a camping trip, Springfield might just be the place for you. As long as you’re over 34.
Tied with Springfield for the No. 4 spot on our list is the lovely little city of Newport—though, of course, compared to the tiny Springfield, Newport is practically New York.
Just like a little mini-New York, Newport is absolutely buzing with nightlife. From Jasper’’s Tavern to Griff’s Pub to…Jasper’s Tavern. No, we’re kidding. Actually for a city of this size, Newport had quite a few nightlife options, earning it fourth place in this category.
Where it really shined, though, was in its number of restaurants per capita, plus a lack of fast food. (Of course anyone who lives here knows all you really need is the breakfast pork chop at Brown Cow Restaurant.)
Home to both Middlebury College and the beautiful Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, it may be no surprise that Middlebury ranked second in the categories of young population (48.44 percent of residents are 18 to 34), and arts per capita.
Unlike some college towns, though, where bars seem to dot every corner and the streets are paved in bottle caps, Middlebury’s young population seems to be a bit more sophisticated—either that or they just party in their homes, because this town ranked 12th out of 15 for its number of nightlife listings.
Montpelier, the smallest capital city in the U.S., pops up on our list for a couple of reasons.
First of all, with great little gems like Sweet Melissa’s, Montpelier ranked fourth best for its number of music venues per capita.
Second (and third, and fourth) of all, Montpelier ranked fifth in three categories: nightlife, lack of fast food, and number of delicious restaurants per capita. Of course we weren’t counting just delicious restaurants—that wasn’t our criterion—but with The Skinny Pancake, Salt, and NECI on Main, Montpelier sure has them.
8. St. Albans
This town may have just under 7,000 residents, but it’s packing in the excitement—mostly by way of food.
With One Federal Restaurant & Lounge, Yama, Green Mountain Cafe, Thai House, and so many more, St. Albans tied at No. 1, not just in the category of restaurants per capita, but also in the category of fast food (lack thereof).
If you’re the one person out there who just isn’t that into delicious food, fear not, because St. Albans is also a great place to mingle. It’s the third most densely populated in the state and the fourth youngest, with 24.35 percent of residents being between 18 and 34.
And if that still doesn’t do it for you, go throw some bread into Lake Champlain. You might get some ducks…or you might just attract Champ, the lake’s very own monster.
With over 16,000 residents, Rutland is the third largest place in Vermont, but apparently, aside from Burlington, a large population doesn’t necessarily mean more excitement (the second largest place in the state, South Burlington ranked 13th).
Of course, ninth on the list is better than not at all, and Rutland earned this spot with its fifth place ranking for its number of music venues and better still, fourth for its arts & entertainment listings per capita, like the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont and the Paramount Theatre, just to name a couple.
10. Bellows Falls
Easily the smallest place on our list, with just a hair over 3,000 residents (literally less people than attended my high school), Bellows Falls packs a whole lot into such a small space—including people, with 2,290 residents per square mile.
Aside from being the fifth most densely-populated place in the state, Bellows Falls blew the others out of the water in one category in particular: music venues per capita. With such a small population, it’s a bit surprising that there are any music venues at all, let alone a gorgeous spaces like the Bellows Falls Opera House (also a helluva place to watch a movie).
Vermont: Small State, Big Excitement
For those of you who doubted there were 10 places in Vermont, let alone 10 exciting ones, we hope this list has cleared a little something up for you: just because a place is small doesn’t mean it’s not packing in some awesome—especially true in the places above.
If these 10 places sound good to you, and you aren’t lucky enough to live in one of them (yet), we can help you there. Aside from bringing you witty articles and some awesome maps
, we help find houses. So get in touch—it’s not too late to move to Burlington, and for those of you in St. Johnsbury, well, you might just want to think about it, okay?