Whether it’s a result of student loans, the fear of retirement, or the future in general – Americans are officially stressed out. According to the American Psychological Association, who has been surveying levels of stress and anxiety across the country for the last decade, 2017 marked the first significant increase in stress nationwide since 2007.
So what’s the solution? The internet is full of good advice, but keeping things casual is often a common theme. So we studied over 400,000 Instagram posts to find the most casual places in America. We broke this down into four categories: fashion, food, dating, and lifestyle. We then ranked cities and states based on Instagram hashtags related to each category. From their dining options to fashion choices and possibly casual work environments, we’re profiling some of the most laid-back cities and states across the country. So relax, sit back, and read on to see what we uncovered.
The Most Casual States in America
In the quest to identify the most casual states in America, our analysis of over 470,000 Instagram posts revealed one state ranked highest for the most laid-back fashion and dating – earning the No. 1 spot on our overall list: New York.
The Empire State may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “casual fashion,” but not everything in New York has to be fit for a runway to earn the seal of approval from people who live or travel there.
On the other side of the country, Hawaii came in just behind New York for its casual Instagram posts. Leading the way with the most casual food and easygoing work and lifestyle posts, it’s not hard to see what makes life in Hawaii (whether you live there) so undemanding.
Following New York and Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Florida all ranked among the most casual states, according to the Instagram posts analyzed. These states may be well-known for their fast-paced and spirited cities (including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Orlando, but they offer so much more. California, for example, is home to some of the most impressive national parks anywhere in the U.S., and studies have shown getting outside can be both mentally and physically relaxing.
The Most Casual Cities in America
|San Francisco, CA||4||3||9||4||4|
|Los Angeles, CA||5||12||2||8||5|
|Las Vegas, NV||9||16||6||5||7|
|New York City, NY||11||34||10||12||11|
|New Orleans, LA||6||19||26||18||18|
|San Diego, CA||19||32||19||9||19|
|Jersey City, NJ||8||26||20||25||23|
|Santa Ana, CA||37||27||40||24||33|
|Saint Paul, MN||43||31||41||27||37|
|Long Beach, CA||53||38||50||20||39|
|Oklahoma City, OK||28||37||45||57||42|
|St. Louis, MO||35||39||48||36||44|
|Kansas City, MO||55||47||31||42||46|
|Virginia Beach, VA||56||60||34||40||50|
|San Antonio, TX||54||57||63||55||59|
|Fort Worth, TX||59||55||60||50||61|
|Corpus Christi, TX||61||59||72||48||64|
|Colorado Springs, CO||68||70||58||61||67|
|Fort Wayne, IN||74||50||67||67||68|
|El Paso, TX||72||67||76||59||71|
|Chula Vista, CA||71||73||73||63||72|
|San Jose, CA||78||58||77||72||74|
Looking for more specific casual destinations? The Sunshine State ranked fifth overall for the most casual states in America, but two Florida cities earned the top spots with the fashion, food, and all-around laid-back lifestyle. Miami and Orlando might not be very far from each other geographically, but they offer residents and tourists alike a very different take on a casual atmosphere.
For fashion, food, and lifestyle, Miami had more casual Instagram posts than any other city in the country. Even during Miami Fashion Week, T-shirts, crop tops, and swimwear have been known to make appearances. What to wear on holiday in Miami isn’t hard to put together either, and if your style happens to include a “going to the beach” vibe, the odds are you’ll fit right in. Not every part of the city is known for being laid-back though, and if its notorious traffic jams have you feeling down, the food scene in Miami has everything you could care to enjoy from artisanal coffee to pizza and seafood.
Just a few hours north in Orlando, casual energy can look a little different. With 48 million visitors in 2016, Orlando is definitely a popular city, and tourists usually travel there for one thing in particular: theme parks. Home to both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, the city’s focus on casual fashion and lifestyle helped catapult it to second place on our list.
If beaches and theme parks aren’t your thing, no fear. Atlanta, San Francisco, and Los Angeles helped round out the top five. And what do they happen to have in common? Near perfect weather year-round.
Casual Fashion Cities
Casual wear has evolved over the years. What might have once been described as jeans and a polo shirt has expanded into something even more laid-back. The rising trend of athletic wear as everyday clothing (affectionately referred to as “athleisure”) isn’t just a fad. Having eclipsed a market size of $44 billion in the U.S. alone, exercise gear for general wear has changed the idea of what it means to dress casually around the world.
Hashtags including #casualstyle and #casualwear were especially popular in Southern cities including Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta – where the weather might allow for less restrictive layering – and on the West Coast in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Casual doesn’t always have to mean unsophisticated, either. Looking to dress up that relaxed style? Accessorizing with belts, a nice coat, or even unique textures can help elevate #casualstyle for a night out on the town.
Cities With the Best Casual Dining
If you’re looking to grab a fast and casual bite to eat, gone are the days where a relaxed dining atmosphere almost exclusively meant conventional fast food or chain restaurants. With thousands of locations across the country and an annual revenue stream of roughly $1.2 billion, #foodtrucks still offer gourmet and unique dining options on the go.
Food trucks aren’t the only option for #casualdining or #cheapeats, though. Miami, Austin, San Francisco, and Orlando had the highest number of Instagram posts tagged with these hashtags. In Miami, delicious Cuban food and hand-held empanadas define the culture of casual dining in the Magic City – not to mention the iconic coffee that stands on its own as a symbol of the city’s food scene. To the west, barbecue isn’t the only thing that’s big in Texas. Austin has created a unique kind of foodie paradise, complete with sweets, pastries, and savory breakfast popovers that won’t break the bank.
Best Cities for Casual Dating
Somewhere between a plethora of dating app options and a trend toward the more temporary, casual dating is finding its own place in the relationship sphere. And if you’re ready to embrace this new #hookup culture, there may be an app for that too.
In Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., hashtags including #tinder, #hookup, and #onlinedating were more popular than anywhere else in the country. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of casual dating, Philadelphia has some fairly common hot spots for taking your date offline and into the real world. There are popular options for romance on a budget, dates that might need a little liquid courage to get things going, and even restaurants known for leading to more intimate after-dinner adventures. Los Angeles also ranks as one of the best cities in the country for singles. As a metropolitan mecca, people from all over the world move to LA, and the vast majority are unmarried.
Best Cities for Casual Lifestyles
Casual clothing isn’t just for the weekends anymore, and what passes for a relaxedworking wardrobe has evolved the same way leisurewear has. For some, athleisure has even invaded the office, and 62 percent of all U.S. organizations allow casual dress once a week, and more than 1 in 3 organizations allow it every day. Casual working environments could be win-win scenarios for employers and employees alike. Clothing can affect how people feel about themselves, and studies show casual dress codes could make employees feel more confident, productive, and happy about their jobs.
To find the cities with the most casual lifestyles, we analyzed over 31,100 Instagram posts tagged #casualfriday, #chillday, and #relaxingday. According to our study, Miami, Atlanta, and Orlando earned the top slots for their relaxing environments, while some Midwest cities (including Cleveland, Ohio, and St. Louis, Missouri) ranked the lowest.
Laid-Back in Style
Whether it’s about what you wear or what’s for dinner, you probably have too much going on already to stress over the little things. Thankfully, there are cities and states all across the country that have embraced a more casual lifestyle. Big cities like New York, Miami, and Atlanta might not seem laid-back on the surface, but we found they might prefer a more relaxed atmosphere when it comes to style, food, and dating.
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To determine the most casual cities and states, we scraped 435,582 Instagram for posts related to our four categories: fashion, dining, dating, and lifestyle. The terms we scraped with post counts are listed below:
Fashion: #casualchic, #casualstyle, #casualwear (98,046 posts)
Dining: #foodtruck, #casualdining, #cheapeats (251,106 posts)
Dating: #hookup, #onlinedating, #tinder, #bumble, #plentyoffish, #pof, #okcupid (55,311 posts)
Lifestyle: #relaxingday, #casualday, #chillday, #latetowork, #halfday, #halfdayoff, #casualfriday (31,119 posts)
Using these geocoded posts, we categorized them into states and metropolitan areas using census shapefiles. We only considered cities with more than 250,000 residents. To avoid more populous cities in our rankings, we used posts per 100,000 residents in our analysis.
To create our final metascore rankings, we used the posts per 100,000 residents to create a 1 through 100 scale, with 100 being the most posts of any city/state, and 1 being the least. We summed these 1-100 scoresfor each category to create our final rank.
This was an exploratory study only and should be used solely for entertainment purposes. We did not survey residents, nor determine sentiment or behaviors of residents, but rather used Instagram postings that could suggest causality. This was only a representative sample of terms that could be used, and there could be a more exhaustive list of terms.
Fair Use Statement
Feeling excited about these relaxing destinations? We’re not uptight about sharing this study with your readers for any noncommercial use. Just make sure to include a link back to this page, so our contributors earn credit for their work.