These Are The 10 Most Exciting Places In New York

New York Smash Magazine  

Originally published by

If you think you know what the most exciting place in New York state is, well, you might want to check out our analysis. You might just be surprised.

The 10 Most Exciting Places In New York By Movoto Real Estate

When most people hear “New York,” they think of New York City—the lights, the tall buildings, the shows, the action, the excitement! It’s often described as the most exciting city in the world (mostly by New Yorkers, admittedly). But are they right? Is it really the most exciting city in the world?

Well, not according to the latest analysis here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog. In fact, it wasn’t even the most exciting place in the state. Yes, you read correctly. According to the math (and you can’t argue with math), Ithaca was the most exciting place in New York—followed by NYC.

Here’s the complete list of our top 10 most exciting places in New York:

1. City of Ithaca
2. City of New York
3. Village of Port Chester
4. City of Albany
5. City of Troy
6. City of Poughkeepsie
7. City of Rochester
8. City of Syracuse (tie)
8 .City of Buffalo (tie)
10. City of Elmira

How in the world did Ithaca manage to beat out one of the most talked about, written about, sung about, and just generally praised cities in the nation? Well, we’ll tell you in the following paragraphs. But first, we’ll go over the methodology of our study.

How We Created This Ranking

In order to come up with this most exciting of rankings, we started out with a list of all of the places in New York with populations over 25,000, according to the U.S. Census (2010), which was 62. Then, we used the Census and business listings to gather up information about 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)

From there, we went about ranking each of our 62 places with a score from one to 62 in each criterion. The lower the score, the more exciting the place. We averaged these rankings for an overall Big Deal Score for each location, and the place with the lowest was our most exciting spot, in this case (sorry, New York), Ithaca.

Now, if you can handle the excitement, we’ll take a closer look at each of these 10 cities. Otherwise, feel free to head down to the bottom of the post to see a list of the 50 most exciting places in NY.

1. Ithaca


Source: City of Ithaca

This city’s excitement is only rivaled by its utter beauty… and perhaps its incredibly high number of young folks—nearly 68 percent, making it by far the youngest place in our analysis. Of course, along with a young population comes a lot of excitement. In this case, the highest number of nightlife, music venues, and the second highest in arts and active life options per capita.

It didn’t rank as well for its number of restaurants per capita, or for a lack of fast food. But with places like Lot 10, the Chapter House, Fall Creek House, who needs to eat?

2. New York

New York

Source: Flickr user Giacomo Carena

Of course we couldn’t create a Most Exciting list without mentioning New York City—and don’t worry, it was a very close second. Apart from earning points for its population density (where it came in at No. 1, obviously), the Big Apple ranked well for its art, nightlife, music venues, and lack of fast food per capita.

The only reason NYC didn’t rank higher in our number crunching was because we looked at amenities per capita, rather than total. Remember, there are a lot of people in New York, one of the things that makes this city so exciting.

3. Port Chester

Port Chester

Source: Flickr user Alex Bellink

Any place that’s exciting enough for Ed Sullivan to live there is undoubtedly exciting enough to make the No. 3 spot on our list. Famous residents aside, Port Chester was filled with music venues (the Capitol Theatre, need we say more?), delicious restaurants like Terry Lodge, and people—particularly young people, with over 28 percent of its residents being between the ages of 18 and 34.

4. Albany


Source: Joe Elario Photography

After Ithaca, the state’s capital was the youngest city we looked at, with over 38 percent of its population being between the ages of 18 and 34. And what comes along with young people? Well, in Albany, it’s tons of nightlife, music venues like Valentine’s, arts like the amazing Egg, and some of the most active life options out of anywhere we looked at.

But we guess all of those otherwise healthy and active college students in Albany need some kind of vice, and according to our numbers, it comes by way of fast food. Albany lost a few points in this arena for having one of the higher numbers of fast food restaurants per capita.

5. Troy


Source: City of Troy

With a motto like “Ilium fruit, Troja est” (“Ilium was, Troy is”), you’d better hope that your city is exciting. In this case, Troy does not disappoint. Home to Hudson Valley Community College, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, and Russell Sage College, Troy earned points for its high percent of people between 18 and 34.

It also ranked well for its high number of arts and entertainment options per capita, plus a pretty decent live music scene nearby. Gratulantur!

6. Poughkeepsie


Source: City of Poughkeepsie

Certainly one of the most exciting New York places to spell, Poughkeepsie keeps residents entertained and excited, particularly with its nightlife, music venues per capita, arts and entertainment options, and most of all, a population that is 31 percent between the ages of 18 and 34.

Worried you won’t run into any fellow young folks while you’re out and about? Fear not; Poughkeepsie was also the 19th most densely populated place in our analysis, so chances are, you’ll run into someone. Whether you like it or not.

7. Rochester


Source: Flickr user John Weiss

This city, known as the World’s Image Center, the Flower City, and once upon a time, the Flour City, might want to add “Exciting” to its list of nicknames, particularly when it comes to going out. That’s because Rochester came in as one of the top cities on our list for music venues, nightlife, and arts and entertainment per capita.

Rochester also ranked well for its number of active life options, with tons of beautiful parks for running and biking, plus a number of gyms and fitness centers per capita. Perfect for the 31 percent of the population between 18 and 34, and all others as well.

8. Syracuse


Source: Flickr user fixlr

Famously home to the Great New York State Fair, Syracuse is also the place to be for plenty of year-round excitement; live music at the Westcott Theater, a visit to the Everson Museum of Art, or a trip to Armory Square for the 12th best nightlife in the state.

Why so many exciting options? Not only was Syracuse home to 34 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34, but it was also the economic and educational hub of Central New York. So, yeah, people kind of need something to do.

9. Buffalo


Source: Flickr user Alex Bellink

With over 261,000 residents, Buffalo is the second largest place in the state, and also the 18th most densely populated. Of course, being a big packed-in city doesn’t always mean you’re exciting, but in this case, it really did.

That’s because Buffalo’s large population was also pretty young, with over 28 percent of its residents between 18 and 34. This city also bowled the others over with its high number of nightlife and active life options, and especially, with its number of music venues per capita (Waiting Room, Mohawk Place, Babeville, and Town Ballroom are just a handful of them).

10. Elmira


Source: Flickr user Elmira College

Elmira ranked well for a number of reasons, and most of them had to do with food. It came in as the 11th best for its variety of delicious restaurants like Bistro 223, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, and the Hilltop Inn, just to name a few.

But if you love bad food—I mean fast food—Elmira may not be the place for you, as it ranked 14th in this category for a lack of fast food options per capita. Remember, less fast food means more exciting. A good life lesson.

A New York State State Of Mind

Even though most people, or at least non-residents, may first think of the bright lights, tall buildings, shows, and excitement of the Big Apple when they hear “New York,” clearly there’s much more to the state than one famous city.

Of course, Ithaca, NYC, Port Chester, and the rest of our list were only the top 10 most exciting places in the state; for a list of the top 50, just check out the table below.

Movoto Real Estate's Most Exciting Places In New York

Movoto Real Estate’s Most Exciting Places In New York