The most exciting places in Illinois

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Aug 19, 2014

Although Illinois struggles with a crippling pension crisis and corruption, it’s still an awesome place to live. To highlight the fun side of living in Illinois, real estate blog site made a list of the top 10 most exciting places in Illinois. Movoto made the list by ranking the 100 most populous cities in Illinois, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, on the following criteria:

  • Most nightlife and live music venues per capita
  • Most active life options per capita
  • Fewest fast food venues per capita
  • Highest percentage of non-fast food restaurants
  • Highest percentage of residents ages 18 to 34

Please note these were the same 100 places used to rank the most boring places in Illinois. The most exciting places in Illinois (1)

10) Downers Grove Population 50,000. Here’s how Downers Grove ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 39th
  • Music venues per capita: 13th
  • Active life options: 14th
  • Fast food venues: 37th
  • Non-fast food options: 15th
  • Youth population: 81st

Attractions: Movoto recommends the restaurants Taste, Los Dos, Chama Gucha Brazilian Steakhouse, and Borrowed Earth Cafe.

9) Bloomington Population 79,000. Here’s how Bloomington ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 7th
  • Music venues per capita: 12th
  • Active life options: 34th
  • Fast food venues: 71st
  • Non-fast food options: 52nd
  • Youth population: 12th

Attractions: Movoto recommends Laugh Comedy Club, Rosie’s Pub, Entourage Lounge, C II East Lounge and Ottodog. Additionally, both Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University are located in or near Bloomington.

8) Edwardsville Population 25,000. Here’s how Edwardsville ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 12th
  • Music venues per capita: 5th
  • Active life options: 26th
  • Fast food venues: 80th
  • Non-fast food options: 48th
  • Youth population: 7th

Attractions: Edwardsville is home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Movoto recommends the music venues Laurie’s Place and Wildey Theater.

SUI Edwardsville

7) Champaign Population 83,000. Here’s how Champaign ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 3rd
  • Music venues per capita: 15th
  • Active life options: 37th
  • Fast food venues: 75th
  • Non-fast food options: 34th
  • Youth population: 6th

Attractions: Champaign, along with its sister city Urbana, is home to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Movoto recommends bars such as the Tumble Inn Tavern, the Blind Pig Pub, Mike N Molly’s, and Cowboy Monkey

6) Carbondale Population 26,000. Here’s how Carbondale ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 2nd
  • Music venues per capita: 25th
  • Active life options: 60th
  • Fast food venues: 48th
  • Non-fast food options: 16th
  • Youth population: 1st

Attractions: Carbondale is home to Southern Illinois University’s main campus. Movoto recommends the bars Pinch Penny Pub, PK’s, the Blue Martin, and the Cellar, as well as the restaurants Newell House and Thai Taste.


5) St. Charles Population 33,000. Here’s how St. Charles ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 23rd
  • Music venues per capita: 4th
  • Active life options: 35th
  • Fast food venues: 7th
  • Non-fast food options: 6th
  • Youth population: 76th

Attractions: Movoto recommends a variety of St. Charles music venues, including the House Pub, Arcada Theatre, and the Fox Valley Repertory at Pheasant Run Resort.

4) Chicago Population 2,700,000. Here’s how Chicago ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 5th
  • Music venues per capita: 9th
  • Active life options: 49th
  • Fast food venues: 45th
  • Non-fast food options: 18th
  • Youth population: 9th

Attractions: Chicago has so many restaurants, nightclubs, bars and other attractions, we couldn’t fit them all here. Visit for an extensive list of Chicago attractions.

Chicago seal

3) Rock Island Population 39,000. Here’s how Rock Island ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 1st
  • Music venues per capita: 6th
  • Active life options: 55th
  • Fast food venues: 17th
  • Non-fast food options: 13th
  • Youth population: 25th

Attractions: Movoto recommends a wide variety of Rock Island comedy clubs and venues, including  the Blacklist Theater Company, Hookah House, and ComedySportz Quad Cities, in addition to Jim’s Rib Haven for barbecue. 

2) Woodstock Population 25,000. Here’s how Woodstock ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 17th
  • Music venues per capita: 1st
  • Active life options: 23rd
  • Fast food venues: 16th
  • Non-fast food options: 10th
  • Youth population: 34th

Attractions: Many scenes of the movie “Groundhog Day” were filmed in Woodstock. Additionally, Movoto recommends trying the chicken pot pie at La Petite Creperie

1) Evanston Population 75,000. Here’s how Evanston ranks in each category:

  • Nightlife: 38th
  • Music venues per capita: 2nd
  • Active life options: 9th
  • Fast food venues: 24th
  • Non-fast food options: 12th
  • Youth population: 8th

Attractions: Evanston is not only home to Northwestern University, but also a variety of music venues, such as Space, 27 Live, and the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.  

Most exciting places in Illinois

The 10 Most Exciting Places In Illinois 

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