These Are The 10 Most Exciting Places In Tennessee

The most exciting places in the Volunteer State just might surprise you.
  • Natalie Grigson
  • Staff Writer
  • 9,676 views
  • 6 comments
  • Natalie Grigson, Staff Writer
  • 9,676 views, 6 comments

Any state that can turn out the likes of Morgan Freeman, Dolly Parton, and Elvis has got to be pretty darn exciting—and we didn’t even mention the barbecue.

With all of Tennessee being so exciting, how could you possibly pick the most exciting places within its borders? Well, that’s where the Movoto Real Estate Blog team comes in. Today, we’re heading to Tennessee to tell you which of this exciting state’s places are the most thrilling of them all.

Here are the 10 most exciting places in Tennessee:

1. City of Knoxville
2. City of Chattanooga
3. Nashville-Davidson
4. City of Franklin
5. City of Johnson City
6. City of Manchester
7. City of Maryville
8. City of Memphis
9. City of Gallatin
10. City of Jackson

What exactly makes Knoxville more exciting than the rest (aside from the crepes at the French Market, that is)? Keep reading to find out how it topped the list, and why each of these 10 places is so sweet.

How We Created This Ranking

We started this exciting journey by gathering up all of the places in Tennessee with populations of 10,000 or more, which left us with a total of 59 places. Then, we used the 2010 U.S. 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)

Next, we ranked each of these 59 places with a score from one to 59, 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. We’re lookin’ at you, Knoxville.

If you want to see more than just these top 10, head down to the bottom of the post where we’ll have the rankings of the top 50 most exciting places. Otherwise, we’ll get started by taking a look at our winners.

1. Knoxville

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Halle Stoutzenberger

A city so exciting that actors around the world have named themselves after it… Okay, maybe it was just the one (Johnny Knoxville, who was born there), but still, any place worth a name change is worth noting.

What exactly is so name-changingly good about this city? For starters, it’s home to tons of cool places like Peter Kern Library, Tennessee Theatre, The Public House, and plenty of other nightlife and music venue options per capita, ranking it second and 10th in these categories, respectively.

This sixth most densely populated city in the state is also the fourth youngest, with 33.72 percent of the population being between the ages of 18 and 34; and it’s the fourth most artsy, with galleries, studios, and the Knoxville Museum of Art, just to name a few.

2. Chattanooga

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Zackzen

Can we award points for having one of the most fun names to pronounce? No? Okay, well, don’t worry; this city has plenty of actual excitement going on within its limits—especially when it comes to food.

For places like Public House Chattanooga, Easy Bistro & Bar, and St. John’s, Chattanooga ranked seventh in the category of non-boring restaurants per capita (non-fast food, that is). It also ranked eighth for both its nightlife and arts options per capita, home to plenty of galleries and the Hunter Museum of American Art.

3. Nashville-Davidson

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Vermillion

It may not come as a surprise that Nashville ranked among the most exciting, mostly for its number of music venues per capita. What may come as a surprise though, was that it didn’t, in fact, rank No. 1 in this category.

With all of the music venues—famous places like the Grand Ole Opry, Robert’s Western World, and RCA Studio B—the population is so large in Nashville, it didn’t rank at the very top in this category. Instead, that honor went to McMinnville, of all places.

Nashville-Davidson also ranked well for its number of nightlife options, which might have something to do with the fact that it is the sixth youngest place in the state, with 30.29 percent of the population between 18 and 34. Plus, there are more restaurants than residents know what to do with here (though locals know that you really only need the one: Jack’s Bar-B-Que).

4. Franklin

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Andrea Smith Farmer

This Williamson County city may not exactly be one of the youngest on our list—in fact, it ranked 45th for its small percentage of people between 18 and 34—but as locals undoubtedly know, this doesn’t mean it’s not exciting.

Franklin is packed with music venues per capita (ranking second in this category), art galleries like Gallery 202 and entertainment like the Main Street Festival (third in this category), plenty of active life options (fourth here), and it’s also simply packed with people, as the 11th most densely populated place in the state.

5. Johnson City

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Wei Tchou

Unlike a lot of our top 10 places which ranked particularly well in one or two categories, but totally bombed the others; Johnson City made the No. 5 spot on our list for ranking pretty well across the board.

It came in 13th for both its population density and number of non-fast food restaurants, for example, the 17th best for nightlife, and 18th for music venues per capita. Plus, as the home to East Tennessee State University and students of the nearby Milligan College, this city is also one of the youngest in our top 10, with 28.81 percent of its population being between 18 and 34.

6. Manchester

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Chrissie Wright

Manchester is a city located in Coffee County, and if that doesn’t give you an excited buzz, we don’t know what will. Well, other than the third most nightlife options per capita, the sixth most music venues, or the fourth highest number of non-fast food restaurants per capita… that’s all pretty exciting too.

We know what you’re thinking, “Manchester doesn’t have that many restaurants,” right? Well, remember, we’re talking per capita here, and for a population of just over 10,000 people, Manchester has a ton of restaurants, from Chinese and Japanese to some of the juiciest Southern burgers you’ve ever known at Jiffy Burger.

7. Maryville

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Southern Foodways Alliance

Just like Franklin above, Maryville didn’t exactly win exciting points for having a young population; rather it ranked 38th in this category for just 20.49 percent of people being between 18 and 34. But even so, this city has plenty of music venues, arts, and active life options per capita.

In addition to being packed with venues like Two Doors Down, theatres and galleries like Studio 212 Arts, and several active life options per capita, Maryville is also packed with people. With a population of just over 27,000, it certainly isn’t among the largest places on our list; but it is among the most densely-populated, with 1,635 people per square mile.

To put that into perspective for you, the much larger area of Nashville-Davidson only has a population density of 1,265 people per square mile.

8. Memphis

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Memphis CVB

Yes of course you’re on our list, Memphis; how could we have an Exciting Places in Tennessee post without mentioning you…eighth?

Okay, so maybe you’re not as high as you thought you’d be, but that’s only because we measured our amenities per capita.  First of all, it’s the second most densely-populated place in the state, with 2,053 people per square mile. That’s almost two times more dense than Nashville.

Memphis is also young. Of the 646,900 residents or so, 26.62 percent of them are between the ages of 18 and 34. Plus it has been the home of Morgan Freeman, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, and the King himself, Elvis Presley. Any place that inspires talent like that has got to be pretty exciting.

9. Gallatin

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce

This place is packed with plenty of delicious restaurants per capita. From Mexican at Ricardo's to some absolutely ridiculously delectable pies at The Ugly Pie, this city has something for any foodie. Unless you want fast food, that is; it ranked 15th in this category, for a lack of fast food. Remember: Less fast food equals more exciting.

But more art equals more exciting, and lucky for Gallatin, there are plenty of galleries, theaters, and arts stores to go around.

10. Jackson

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Jill, Jellidonut, whatever

Home to Jackson State Community College, Lane College, Union University, and University of Memphis students, just to name a few, Jackson is one of the youngest places in our list, with 26.81 percent of its population being between 18 and 34.

It may be no surprise, then, that it’s also home to plenty of nightlife options per capita; places like the Downtown Tavern, the Tap Bar & Grill, and on Fridays and Saturdays, even Jackson Bowling & Family Fun Center, which is open until 3 a.m. and is awesome.

You’re the Only 10 We See

These top 10 are some of the most art-filled, food-filled, youngest, and all around most exciting places in the state; especially our winner, Knoxville.

If you’re looking for more than the 10 above, look no further than the table below where we’ve included the top 50 most exciting places. Don’t see your hometown? Well, it may be that your city’s population is less than 10,000. Or maybe it’s just boring. That could be it, too.

Most Exciting Places In Tennessee

Who is Movoto Real Estate, you might ask? Movoto is an online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, CA. Our blog has been recognized for its unique approach to city-based research by major news organizations around the world such as Forbes and CBS News.
Posted on: July 16, 2014
9,676 views, 6 comments
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