This Is the Hardest-Partying State in America, According to Data

Ted Lang
·14 min read

With vaccinations on the rise and spring just around the corner, it may seem like it's time to party after what's been a long, dark winter, both figuratively and literally. But while you may be chomping at the bit to let your mask down and celebrate, you’ll have to wait a bit longer before you can responsibly blow off all that pent up steam. To help you pass the time until then, Best Life set out to determine the hardest-partying state in America.

To get to the bottom of where Americans really know how to have a good time, we analyzed five metrics. First, we looked at the number of bars per capita* in each state, calculated in 2020 by Business Insider using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Then, we gathered the most recent data available from Statista on the annual number of gallons of alcohol consumed per capita. And for a third and final alcohol-related statistic, we turned to America’s Health Rankings, which provided the percentage of adults in each state who reported “excessive drinking” (four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in a day) or “chronic drinking” (eight or more drinks for women and 15 or more drinks for men in a week) in the last 30 days.

Next, we turned our attention to another common party substance: marijuana. We used the percentage of adults in each state who used cannabis within the last year, according to Statista, and the most recent population data from the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate the number of cannabis users per capita.

Finally, we determined the number of party schools located in each state based upon Niche’s 2021 ranking of the Top 50 Party Schools in America. Each state that was home to one or more party school received a proportional amount of points corresponding to where each particular college or university landed in the ranking, with the list being broken down into tiers of 10 schools per group (e.g. schools ranked in the top 10 were assigned the most points; schools ranked 11-20 were assigned slightly fewer points, and so on.) If you see an “N/A” next to your state, that means it had no schools on the list and, therefore, had no points added or deducted from its final score.

We then assigned each of the five metrics a weighted value before running them through our exclusive algorithm to see how each state scored on our 100-point scale Party Index. Read on to discover the hardest-partying state in America and find out where yours falls in the mix. And for more on the growing popularity of cannabis in the U.S., This Is the Most Stoned State in America.

*Per capita equates to per 100,000 residents in all instances.

50

Arkansas

Bars per capita: 3.8

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.78

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 14.9 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,820

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Arkansas (#45)

Party Index Score: 0.00

49

Utah

Bars per capita: 4.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.35

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 12 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 24,520

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 3.04

48

Alabama

Bars per capita: 5.1

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.99

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 13.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,050

Home to top 50 party school(s): The University of Alabama (#8)

Party Index Score: 6.13

47

Mississippi

Bars per capita: 3.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.17

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 14.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,260

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Mississippi (#18)

Party Index Score: 6.70

46

Kentucky

Bars per capita: 6.9

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.17

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 16.8 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,150

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 7.70

45

Maryland

Bars per capita: 7.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.08

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 15.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,820

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 9.72

44

New Mexico

Bars per capita: 5.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.26

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 16.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,560

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 10.66

43

North Carolina

Bars per capita: 6.8

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.17

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 15.4 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 17,400

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 13.27

42

Oklahoma

Bars per capita: 10.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.85

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 13.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 18,990

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Oklahoma (#43)

Party Index Score: 13.66

41

Arizona

Bars per capita: 8.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.25

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 16.5 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,610

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Arizona (#49)

Party Index Score: 13.81

40

Kansas

Bars per capita: 10.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.92

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 11,670

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Kansas (#36)

Party Index Score: 14.78

39

Connecticut

Bars per capita: 8.7

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.4

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 17.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,000

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 16.83

38

Georgia

Bars per capita: 4.1

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.90

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 17.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,930

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Georgia (#6); Clark Atlanta University (#24); Morehouse College (#48)

Party Index Score: 16.88

37

Tennessee

Bars per capita: 5.0

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.14

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 15.8 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 20,870

Home to top 50 party school(s): Vanderbilt University (#23)

Party Index Score: 18.26

36

New Jersey

Bars per capita: 10.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.35

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 15.2 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,810

Home to top 50 party school(s): Rutgers University, New Brunswick (#28)

Party Index Score: 20.08

35

Virginia

Bars per capita: 2.1

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.13

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 16.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 24,180

Home to top 50 party school(s): James Madison University (#33); University of Virginia (#35)

Party Index Score: 21.48

34

Indiana

Bars per capita: 13.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.15

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 16.5 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,820

Home to top 50 party school(s): Indiana University, Bloomington (#14)

Party Index Score: 23.02

33

Missouri

Bars per capita: 10.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.51

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,470

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Missouri (#42)

Party Index Score: 23.75

32

Texas

Bars per capita: 9.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.26

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 11,210

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Texas, Austin (#17); Southern Methodist University (#21)

Party Index Score: 24.89

And for more states that aren't exactly above board, check out This Is the Most Corrupt State in America.

31

Massachusetts

Bars per capita: 10.3

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.55

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 21.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,960

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Massachusetts, Amherst (#40)

Party Index Score: 28.53

30

Maine

Bars per capita: 9.0

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.85

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.9 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 15,890

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 29.16

29

South Carolina

Bars per capita: 7.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.16

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 20.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 20,070

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of South Carolina (#30); College of Charleston (#38)

Party Index Score: 29.18

28

Hawaii

Bars per capita: 14.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.66

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,960

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 30.32

27

Washington

Bars per capita: 12.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.22

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 15.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 24,530

Home to top 50 party school(s): Washington State University (#39)

Party Index Score: 30.65

26

California

Bars per capita: 8.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.49

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 11,160

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Southern California (#11); University of California, Santa Barbara (#15); San Diego State University (#19)

Party Index Score: 31.65

And for more on the least safe place in the country, This Is the Most Dangerous State in America.

25

Colorado

Bars per capita: 13.3

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.88

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,960

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Colorado, Boulder (#27)

Party Index Score: 34.38

24

Delaware

Bars per capita: 6.9

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 3.52

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.9 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,140

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Delaware (#22)

Party Index Score: 34.50

23

West Virginia

Bars per capita: 20.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 1.74

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 13.2 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 25,710

Home to top 50 party school(s): West Virginia University (#9)

Party Index Score: 35.09

22

Michigan

Bars per capita: 13.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.36

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,650

Home to top 50 party school(s): Michigan State University (#20); University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (#34); Western Michigan University (#47)

Party Index Score: 35.29

21

New York

Bars per capita: 17.3

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.21

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.2 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 15,410

Home to top 50 party school(s): Syracuse (#7); University of Albany, SUNY (#46)

Party Index Score: 35.43

20

Florida

Bars per capita: 8.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.61

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,240

Home to top 50 party school(s): Florida State University (#3); University of Miami (#25); Florida A&M University (#31); University of Florida (#32)

Party Index Score: 36.19

And for the area that's particularly vain, check out This Is the Most Selfish State in America.

19

Louisiana

Bars per capita: 16.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.55

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 20.8 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,170

Home to top 50 party school(s): Tulane University (#2)

Party Index Score: 36.71

18

Minnesota

Bars per capita: 16.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.79

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 22 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,610

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 37.59

17

Alaska

Bars per capita: 21.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.85

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.2 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,700

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 38.02

16

Idaho

Bars per capita: 20.0

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.94

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,710

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 39.53

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15

New Hampshire

Bars per capita: 2.1

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 4.67

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 14,450

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 41.78

14

Oregon

Bars per capita: 20.8

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.74

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 17,200

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 42.80

13

Illinois

Bars per capita: 21.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.39

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 21.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 13,770

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (#5)

Party Index Score: 43.33

And for more on the place where you should always exercise extra caution, This Is the Most Dangerous City in America.

12

Nebraska

Bars per capita: 28.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.16

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 21.9 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 15,900

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 45.90

11

Nevada

Bars per capita: 22.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 3.42

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.4 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,420

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 46.96

10

Rhode Island

Bars per capita: 22.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.63

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 20.1 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 21,210

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 48.01

9

Vermont

Bars per capita: 16.2

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 3.06

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 21 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 22,610

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 49.25

8

Pennsylvania

Bars per capita: 19.3

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.34

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 18,910

Home to top 50 party school(s): Penn State (#10); University of Pennsylvania (#29); Lehigh University (#44); Temple University (#50)

Party Index Score: 49.58

7

Ohio

Bars per capita: 15.9

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.03

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 18.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 20,890

Home to top 50 party school(s): Ohio University (#13); Miami University (#16); Ohio State University (#26); University of Dayton (#37); University of Cincinnati (#41)

Party Index Score: 49.90

6

Iowa

Bars per capita: 29.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.39

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 22.5 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 12,540

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Iowa (#12)

Party Index Score: 51.63

5

South Dakota

Bars per capita: 37.5

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.37

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 22.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 18,890

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 63.57

4

Wyoming

Bars per capita: 29.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.78

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 19 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 27,770

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 64.24

3

Montana

Bars per capita: 50.6

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 3.10

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 22.7 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 15,530

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 85.34

2

North Dakota

Bars per capita: 51.9

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 3.16

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 23.3 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 18,680

Home to top 50 party school(s): N/A

Party Index Score: 91.89

1

Wisconsin

Bars per capita: 47.4

Gallons of alcohol consumed per capita: 2.93

Adults who reported excessive drinking: 23.6 percent

Cannabis users per capita: 28,560

Home to top 50 party school(s): University of Wisconsin (#1)

Party Index Score: 100.00

And for more on where alcohol flows most freely, This Is the Drunkest State in America.