The Least Uptight Places in America

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

The Least Uptight States in America

StateFashionFoodDatingLifestyleFinal Rank

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

The Least Uptight Cities in America

CityFashionFoodDatingLifestyleFINAL RANK
Miami, FL11511
Orlando, FL24832
Atlanta, GA310723
San Francisco, CA43944
Los Angeles, CA512285
Washington, D.C.128376
Las Vegas, NV916657
Portland, OR1564158
Austin, TX29211139
Philadelphia, PA423313210
New York City, NY1134101211
Boston, MA1317121112
Honolulu, HI22538613
Seattle, WA1015161014
Minneapolis, MN209181415
Tampa, FL1811171716
Nashville, TN1618143017
New Orleans, LA619261818
San Diego, CA193219919
Chicago, IL2143132120
Denver, CO277222321
Pittsburgh, PA1742153122
Jersey City, NJ826202523
Dallas, TX746282224
Irvine, CA6021231625
Sacramento, CA2436302626
Charlotte, NC3020372827
Oakland, CA3124332928
Raleigh, NC3314393329
Henderson, NV2668214130
Anaheim, CA3949321931
Durham, NC4013463832
Santa Ana, CA3727402433
Baltimore, MD4828274334
Buffalo, NY6630253435
Cleveland, OH5844243936
Saint Paul, MN4331412737
Houston, TX3240363738
Long Beach, CA5338502039
Lubbock, TX2525697040
Newark, NJ4623524441
Oklahoma City, OK2837455742
Cincinnati, OH4148294643
St. Louis, MO3539483644
Jacksonville, FL6522444945
Kansas City, MO5547314246
Columbus, OH5129435347
Madison, WI4535474548
Milwaukee, WI2366495849
Virginia Beach, VA5660344050
Stockton, CA1463717351
Greensboro, NC3645554752
Omaha, NE3472426053
Phoenix, AZ6454355254
Plano, TX4775563555
Louisville, KY5052535456
Tulsa, OK5241666957
Memphis, TN5753546258
San Antonio, TX5457635559
Tucson, AZ4965575660
Fort Worth, TX5955605061
Indianapolis, IN6274515162
Albuquerque, NM4464646663
Corpus Christi, TX6159724864
Riverside, CA3881596565
Fresno, CA7356616466
Colorado Springs, CO6870586167
Fort Wayne, IN7450676768
Lexington, KY6751827569
Mesa, AZ7561626870
El Paso, TX7267765971
Chula Vista, CA7173736372
Toledo, OH6378707173
San Jose, CA7858777274
Wichita, KS6962798075
Bakersfield, CA7780657676
Anchorage, AK8269787777
Aurora, CO8077747478
Lincoln, NE7082687979
Arlington, TX7679758180
Laredo, TX7976817881
Detroit, MI8171808282

Map - The Least Uptight Cities in AmericaLooking 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 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

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

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

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.

About the author

Balazs Szekely

Balazs is a qualified journalist with a thing for real estate. This obsession comes in handy in his work as an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafe. When he’s not thrashing his keyboard, he takes pleasure in photography, aquascaping and all kinds of DIY projects. Feel free to get in touch with Balazs via email or Twitter.

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