Which US cities are living life on the wild side?
Whether you are splashing your cash in the casinos, or letting your hair down after a hard day at work, most of us have a wild side. There are many ways in which people choose to unleash their naughtiness, some of which are unlawful. Having said this, legislation is always being reevaluated, which has resulted in over 20 different states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana as of 2023.
With this in mind, we wanted to find out which US cities have a reputation for being wild when it comes to partying. We have analyzed the number of casinos and strip clubs, marijuana, and cocaine prevalence, plus more factors to reveal the wildest cities in the US - here’s what we found.
Reno is crowned as the wildest US city with an overall score of 8.61 /10
To find out which US cities are the wildest, we have delved into a range of data, from the number of casinos per 100,000 residents to the percentage of people who have taken cocaine and more.
The top 10 wildest cities in the US
Reno, Nevada - Overall wildness score of 8.61 /10
Taking the top spot as the wildest US city, with an overall score of 8.61 /10, is Reno. Known as ‘Biggest Little City’, it may come as no surprise that Reno has made an appearance on this ranking. This city is known for its wide range of amenities, and this is evidenced by the plethora of casinos and strip clubs per 100,000 residents - totaling 7.90 and 3.23 respectively.
Portland, Oregon - Overall wildness score of 8.08 /10
Next on this list is Portland with a wildness score of 8.08 /10. As the largest city in the state of Oregon, it appears that the people here really know how to let loose! Some of the contributing factors to this city’s second-place ranking in this list include the 8.40 strip clubs per 100,000 residents, as well as the fact that 22% of people here have reported that they binge drink.
Traverse City, Michigan - Overall wildness score of 7.71 /10
Completing this top three list of the wildest US cities is Traverse City, Michigan. This city is renowned for its vineyards and wineries and this makes it less surprising that 23% of the residents here drink heavily. Some of the other factors that make up Traverse City’s 7.71 /10 overall score are the 12.76 strip clubs per 100,000 residents, and the fact that 65.8% of people here have taken marijuana.
Milwaukee has the most excessive drinkers of any US city, with a quarter of adults reporting that they binge drink
After having a bad day at work, many people tend to turn to a beer or a glass of wine to help them unwind. One drink can lead to another and this can result in a messy night, but which US cities are guilty of taking this to the extreme? Below is a list of the cities with the highest percentage of binge drinkers.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - 25% of adults binge drink/ heavy drink
Whether the people of Milwaukee are spending their time in bars, or enjoying a drink in the comfort of their own homes, it is clear that drinking has been ingrained in this city’s culture. The Wisconsin city has made a name for itself in the alcohol industry, known across the United States for its long-standing relationship with brewing beer, and this has likely contributed to the fact that 25% of adults here have reported heavy drinking.
Reno, Traverse City, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids - 23% of adults binge drink/ heavy drink
The second-place entry in this ranking is shared between Reno, Traverse City, Pittsburgh, and Grand Rapids. Around 23% of adults in each of these cities drink excessively, and this lifestyle is synonymous with reckless behavior and acting in ways that you would never even consider in a sober state.
Traverse City and Reno’s position in this ranking is unsurprising as both of these cities were featured in the ‘overall wildest cities’ ranking above. If you have ever visited Traverse City then it is likely that you are familiar with its rich history of wineries and vineyards - a feature which is still a big part of this city’s culture today.
Pittsburgh and Grand Rapids are known more for historical buildings and manufacturing as opposed to the location for a wild weekend away. Despite this, it is clear that the residents of these cities have a wild side, evidenced by the joint second-place ranking in this list.
65.8% of people in Traverse City have taken marijuana - more than any other US city
In film and tv shows, it has become customary to feature a character (or two) getting high in and amongst any party scene. Whilst some US states are still against the recreational use of marijuana, other states have embraced the drug for medicinal use - but in which cities is marijuana the most prevalent?
Traverse City, Michigan - 65.8% of people have taken marijuana
With a total of 65.8% of people in Traverse City reporting to have taken marijuana, this city has the highest percentage of any US city in this list. This drug may have been legalized in Michigan for recreational and medical use, but the legislation only allows use for those over 21. This has been put into place to limit the reckless usage of this drug and increase the safety of the 65.8% of people who have taken the drug in this city.
Grand Rapids, Michigan - 65.4% of people have taken marijuana
The second Michigan state to feature in this ranking, and taking the second spot in this top three list of the US cities with the highest percentage of people who have taken marijuana, is Grand Rapids. Whether the residents are regular users or have only tried the drug once, 65.4% of people here have experienced the effects of marijuana.
Mesa, Arizona - 65% of people have taken marijuana
Mesa takes the final spot in this list of the US cities with the highest percentage of marijuana users. In 2020, Arizona legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and since then it seems that the residents here have really jumped on this bandwagon. With 65% of people in this city reporting that they have taken the drug, residents who have never used marijuana are certainly in the minority.
More people have taken cocaine in Traverse City, Michigan than in any other city in the US - totaling 23.8%
The high-strung effects of cocaine on the body make it a popular party drug across the US. Even though it is illegal to consume cocaine in most states, this country is currently the world’s largest consumer of the drug. The list below reveals the US cities in which the highest percentage of people have taken cocaine.
Traverse City, Michigan - 23.8% of people have taken cocaine
Roughly 23.8% of people in Traverse City have taken cocaine which is the highest of any US city in this list. After appearing in the list of US cities with the highest percentage of marijuana users, it appears that residents across this state are not afraid to use drugs to express their craziness.
Phoenix, Arizona - 23.3% of people have taken cocaine
Even though the use and/ or possession of cocaine is illegal in Phoenix, this city takes the second spot in this ranking. Over 23% of people in this city have taken cocaine, meaning that almost a quarter of the residents here have disobeyed the law to unleash their wild side.
Reno, Nevada - 22.8% of people have taken cocaine
It is illegal to possess or deal cocaine in the state of Nevada, and if caught, you could be facing a fine or even jail time. Despite these consequences, it is the city of Reno that completes this top three list of the US cities with the highest percentage of people who have taken cocaine - totaling 22.8%.
Las Vegas is home to 26.76 casinos per 100,000 residents - more than any other US city
The unpredictable nature of casinos can provide you with a big win or a heavy loss, but regardless of the outcome, it will be a night you will never forget! We have delved into some data and made a list of the US cities with the most casinos per 100,000 residents - here’s what we found.
Las Vegas, Nevada - 26.76 casinos per 100,000 residents
With 26.76 casinos per 100,000 residents, Las Vegas towers above every other US city to earn its place at the top of this ranking. Located in the state of Nevada, the Las Vegas Strip is known for its long stretch of casinos, music, and hotels, making it a hot spot for anyone looking for a wild night out.
Atlantic City, New Jersey - 25.95 casinos per 100,000 residents
If you are visiting Atlantic City and are feeling lucky, then you have plenty of choices when it comes to gambling venues - evidenced by the 25.95 casinos per 100,000 residents in this city. Some of the casino games played in Atlantic City’s state of New Jersey include slot machines and blackjack, which are sure to test your luck if you are feeling wild enough to play.
Reno, Nevada - 7.90 casinos per 100,000 residents
Completing this top three list of the US cities with the most casinos per 100,000 residents is Reno, Nevada. Although it may not be the first place that comes to your mind when you think of gambling, this city is home to 7.90 casinos per 100,000 residents which massively increases your probability of bringing home the jackpot.
Hoboken has the most strip clubs of any US city - 165.25 clubs per 100,000 residents
It is no secret that the US is home to a whole host of nightlife and entertainment venues, with some more wild than others. Bearing this in mind, we wanted to reveal which cities have the most strip clubs.
Hoboken, New Jersey - 27.24 strip clubs per 100,000 residents
With 27.24 strip clubs per 100,000 residents, the city of Hoboken takes the top spot in this ranking. With a total of 15 strip clubs as of 2023, you are bound to find a venue that helps you to unleash your wild side!
Atlantic City, New Jersey - 20.76 strip clubs per 100,000 residents
Taking the second spot in this top three is Atlantic City. Known as ‘The World’s Playground’’, this is a popular tourist destination for couples, families, and anyone in between. For the residents of this city who have seen all there is to explore, there are still opportunities to let loose - including the 20.76 strip clubs per 100,000 residents.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania- 13.93 strip clubs per 100,000 residents
With 13.93 strip clubs per 100,000 residents, Harrisburg completes this top three list of the US cities with the most strip clubs in relation to population. Alongside its abundance of strip clubs, Harrisburg is also famous for more traditional reasons, including the fact that this city is home to the State Capitol building in Pennsylvania.
Using a series of listicles, we made a list of 50 US cities with a reputation for partying.
We used County Health Rankings to find the percentage of adults reporting binge or heavy drinking in each city. Note that these figures are at county level as opposed to city level, thus we took data from the county that the majority of the city falls within.
We used City Data to find the percentage of people who have used marijuana or hashish, as well as the percentage of people who have ever used any form of cocaine.
We used World Casino Directory to find the number of casinos per US city - Yelp was used to collect this data for any cities that were unavailable on the above website. We divided the total number of casinos by the population of each city before multiplying this number by 100,000 to calculate the number of casinos per 100,000 residents.
We used TUSCL to find the number of strip clubs in each US city. We divided the total number of strip clubs by the population of each city before multiplying this number by 100,000 to calculate the number of strip clubs per 100,000 residents.
Finally, we used the wild factors (rates of excessive drinking, marijuana, and cocaine prevalence, number of casinos, and number of strip clubs) and normalized each factor out of 10 before taking an average of those scores to get an overall ‘wild score’ for each city.
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