You've heard of the biggest party schools, and the biggest party towns, but what about the biggest party states? Have you ever wondered where your state fits in on the party scale? From how much booze your residents guzzle, to the density of bars and nightclubs per capita, to music festivals and legal operating hours; every state varies in how much it loves and supports the craziest party options in the country.
Our interactive map shows you exactly how your state measures up. Click on the drop down menu for more information on how each state ranked on single categories, including number of bars and beer consumption.
California is known worldwide for its pristine beaches, enviable year-round weather, HWY 1, and Hollywood. The state is also the #1 ranking party destination in the U.S. There is a reason why our favorite pop and rap artists rave about the California party scene, with its thriving nightlife, underground techno, and midnight street shindigs. California has the highest number of festivals, the second highest number of bars by state (over 3,000), and the most universities and nightclubs relative to population.
With diverse demographics, an expanding youth culture, and innovation in tech and the arts, California has been an epicenter of art and social movement since the 60s. Rivaling party cities in California include L.A., San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, and Long Beach.
What is your first thought when dreaming up a crazy weekend getaway for a serious party with the girls or guys? VEGAS BABY! Nevada is the #2 party destination for a reason. While other states are shutting down early, Nevada bars and clubs are open 24-hours. The state also has the highest number of bars per 100,000 inhabitants and ranks highly for its per capita beer consumption. Las Vegas is also a top tourist destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties, making it an obvious choice for the top 10 party states in the U.S.
Nevada's Black Rock Desert is also home to Burning Man, a.k.a., “The World's Hottest Party.” If you don't know what it is, we can't really explain—you'll have to experience it for yourself.
In addition to getting your drink on in Reno or Las Vegas, you can also party in the Nevada's world famous casino clubs (cha-ching!), or go dancing in one of the famed nightspots. If you have a particularly debauched party night and forget what you may or may not have done, don't worry, what happens in Nevada... stays in Nevada.
NYC is the city that never sleeps, and New York ranks #3 in the country for biggest party state. New York, the home of Woodstock, boasts the highest number of music festivals and the highest number of bars per capita in the entire country. With the second most universities in the country, including Syracuse ranked as the #1 party school according to Playboy, it is sure to be a hot spot for frat parties and other college campus revelry.
Not surprisingly, New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. NYC offers more bars, clubs and restaurants than anywhere else in the states. While party trends may come and go in the Big Apple, you can expect New York to remain a go-to state for generations to come.
Illinois may not be a top tourist destination, but anyone who has spent time boozing out in Chicago or with Illinois locals, knows that there is a high possibility of waking up hurting. The party scene is driven by a relatively low median age and Illinois is in the top five for most bars per capita. Illinois hosts the third highest number of music festivals in the country, including this year's Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago.
Depending on your party needs, Illinois has many options, from street festivals, to local dive bars, high-end clubs, as well as a wide selection of concerts and music festivals, all year round. Of course, the state also has its fair share of crazy college campuses, including the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, which ranked #3 in the nation on Princeton Review's top party school list. Even more party-friendly: students aged 18 are allowed to enter bars in Urbana, and age 19 in Champaign. If you want to extend last call, find the bars that have a “late-night” license, allowing them to stay open until 4 a.m.
Don't Mess With Texas! Texas is the #5 party state in the country with a solid record of festivals, music, crazy local events, and a rowdy reputation to boot. While Austin is known for South by Southwest (SXSW), the state also has a number of other popular music festivals throughout the year. Texas is ranked fourth for numbers of universities and has the second lowest median age of residents. You can also drink cheaper: Texas has one of the lowest alcohol taxes in the nation.
Each city has its own special offerings, including 6th Street in Austin, spring break in San Marco, BYOB on the beach in Corpus Christi, many nightclubs in Dallas, or try a chili cook-off or a pedal party in Houston. Texas is the largest state in the lower 48, so you are bound to find a party wherever you land.
Whether you are 18 or 80, Florida is going to rank on your list for best states in the U.S. to party. Given it's sprawling beaches, year-round sunshine, and accessibility, it is also a leading vacation destination and spring break sanctuary. While you might recognize Florida as a top beach-party destination, it also ranks #4 in the nation for highest number of music festivals, and is a top contender for number of universities and college campuses, always a recipe for a good party scene.
Given the diversity of Florida's nightlife, you will definitely find what you are looking for when it comes to a party. Top-party beaches in the state include Daytona, Panama City, South Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. If you'd rather get classy and enjoy city nightlife, you'll definitely want to be in Orlando, Tampa, or Miami. Jacksonville is also making a huge splash in the party and nightlife scene in Florida.
Aloha party time! Hawaii has more to offer than flower leis and coconut tops, including insane nightlife and a lively music scene making it one of the top 10 party states in the U.S.
Hawaii is notorious for its beach bars, outdoor music, dance clubs, and festivals throughout the year. While many of the islands are preferred for hiking, swimming, beach lazing, or snorkeling, Oahu is the go-to island for premium bars and clubs in Waikiki where you can party until 4 a.m.
Naturally, Hawaii ranks in the top 10 for tourist destinations in the U.S., even despite its pricey flights and accommodations. It also ranks #2 for highest number of dance clubs per 100,000 inhabitants. “Ho'olu komo la kaua,” means, “Please come join us,” in Hawaiian, so, when you're looking for a wild island good time, don't forget that Hawaii has more to offer than just its family-friendly beaches.
Despite the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the state of Louisiana continues to thrive on its culture, community, and passion for music and nightlife. The party-scene extends beyond Mardi Gras season, the French Quarter, and New Orleans proper. Throughout the state of Louisiana, residents enjoy the 6th lowest alcohol taxes in the country. The state also has one of the top 10 alcohol consumption rates in the nation. Louisiana has one of the lowest median ages in the country and has relatively loose drinking laws compared to other states in the U.S.
In New Orleans, bars are allowed to stay open for 24-hours and patrons can walk out of a bar with their drinks without fear of being stopped for open-container violations. In addition to the Big Easy, tourists should also consider some lesser known party destinations in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and the city of Houma, where you will find a roaring Cajun music and a trendy nightlife scene.
Arizona's party scene is as notorious as the Grand Canyon. While Arizona State University and University of Arizona have long ranked highly in Princeton Review's “Top Party Schools” list. Like a few of our other top-10 states, Arizona is a leading tourist destination year-round and has thriving party scene spanning from Flagstaff in Northern Arizona, through Scottsdale and Phoenix, all the way down to Tucson and into the border town, Nogales.
Arizona has one of the lowest alcohol tax rates in the country and is in the top ten for “lowest median age.” For some memorable Southwest partying experiences, check out Old Town Scottsdale, go all night at one of Phoenix's famous dance clubs, spring break at Lake Havasu, check on 4th Avenue and Che's Lounge in Tucson, or go post-slope boozing in Flagstaff.
Drinking and partying have deep roots in Wisconsin culture. Anyone who has spent anytime in Wisconsin or carousing with Wisconsinites knows that the drinking and partying in the Cheese State is no joke. Whether in Milwaukee, Madison, one of the many college towns, or any number of rural areas throughout the state, you will be certain to find a party. In addition to high rates of beer consumption, the state is third for highest number of bars per capita, and first for binge drinking.
Wisconsin is also home to a large number of state colleges and has a relatively low median age, making its urban centers and small towns ripe for partying. To party like a local, join Brewers or Packers fans for a tail-gaiting party or enjoy a favorite local cocktail, like an Old Fashioned or a Hot Toddy. If you want to party like a real Wisconsinite, make your own beer bong or ramp up your beer pong skills.
In determining what criteria to use for this list, we considered contributing factors to party culture, including events, alcohol consumption, venues, tourism, and youth culture. Our Top Ten Biggest Party States interactive visual was calculated based on an analysis of data, including:
Of course, there are always new and different variables that contribute to what makes the biggest and the best party states. These are only a few important factors that we found relevant when determining what states should make the top 10 list.
Do you agree with the results? Do you think your state deserves to be in the Top 10? Tell us what you think! Are you more of a sports nut than a party animal? Check our Retale's visualization on America's 10 Sportiest States.