Early Birds and Night Owls: We’ve Found the Best U.S. Cities for You


People might like to pretend that we’re all the same under the skin, but in fact, there are no shortage of great and seemingly intractable divides of human society. You have your buyers and your renters. Cat people vs. dog people. Blue states vs. red states. Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme or Naked Chicken Chalupas. And perhaps the biggest chasm of all:

Night people vs. day people.

Because the truth is, no one is truly both. And you know which camp you fall into: a morning person who gets up before the birds and embraces the day without needing to drink gallons of java, or a night owl who has to set five alarms in order to get up much before noon, but becomes weirdly productive and rarin’ to go in the wee hours.

Some cities, of course, are far more in tune with the rhythms of early risers, while others spring to full, martini-fueled life at night. So the realtor.com® data team (a dedicated group of night crawlers if ever there was one) set off to find out which cities—among the nation’s 100 largest—are best for each genus.

Let’s start with the criteria for night cities:

  • Average bedtime
  • Percentage of home buyers using realtor.com after 10 p.m.
  • Percentage of people who work night shifts, leaving for their jobs between 4 p.m. and midnight
  • Number of late-night restaurants and food delivery services, night clubs, and 24-hour gyms per capita
  • Percentage of movies and Eventbrite events starting after 10 p.m.

1. New York, NY

Average bedtime: 11:55 p.m.

Famously known as “the city that never sleeps,” New York lives up to its hard-fought rep with restaurants, cocktail clubs, and karaoke bars that don’t close their doors until 4 a.m. And plenty of places that pick up the ball from there.

“By 10 or 11 p.m., [many] New Yorkers have just finished going to their favorite restaurants,” says Claudia Saez-Fromm, a real estate broker who runs the lifestyle blog The {New York} Life. After that “they go dancing, have a few cocktails, or just go to a lounge to relax and de-stress.” We’re there! (No, really, we are.)

You can do just about anything late at night in this town. Get a $10 manicure at 11 p.m.—free Blue Rinse margarita included. Do the touristy thing on the Empire State Building’s observation deck, which stays open until 2 a.m. Get a world-class pastrami sandwich well beyond the time when you should be eating one. You can even have your dry-cleaning delivered at 4 a.m. (Do you need this? Well, that’s not the point.)

One of the reasons that this sprawling city can function on a nonstop schedule is its subway system. In service since 1904, it’s the world’s biggest metro system, committed to 24-hour-a-day operation.

2. Las Vegas, NV

Average bed time: 11:49 p.m.

The real sin in Sin City is heading to bed early. The bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip are most dazzling at night, and mega nightclubs and flashy casinos are no less crowded past midnight. It’s an insomniac’s fantasy come to life.

Want to catch a late-night live concert? Done. Craving Korean barbecue at 3 a.m.? Just a few blocks down the Strip, on the left. Want to get married at 4 a.m.? Head over to the 24-hour wedding chapel and hope you don’t regret it in the morning.

“At night, you have almost as many options for things to do as during the day,” says Jacob Orth, who runs the YouTube channel Jacob’s Life in Vegas. “What’s unique about Vegas is there are a lot of bars and restaurants that have late-night reverse happy hours, or three happy hours a day, because so many people get off work at different times.”

For those who work in hospitality and end their shifts in the small hours, places like It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar offers 5-cent beers and discount foods well into the morning. Night denizens also have their choice of plenty of off-hour options for grocery shopping, laundry, and even haircuts. Beware the late-night haircut.

3. New Orleans, LA

Average bedtime: 11:47 p.m.

The hardy revelers hanging off the balconies that overlook Bourbon Street don’t seem too concerned about getting a good night’s rest. At 4 a.m., whether it’s sipping on a Hurricane in Pat O’Brien’s or listening to live jazz at D.B.A. New Orleans, New Orleans has an almost unlimited number of nightlife options to keep you busy, long after the last beads of Mardi Gras have been swept up.

You don’t have to show up before 9 p.m. to take advantage of New Orleans’ famous culinary scene, either. An abundance of late-night eateries run the gamut from high-end restaurants serving beef cheek rigatoni to chilled-out gastropubs and express sushi bars. Or grocery stores where you can pick up a bag of crawfish boil and do it yourself.

Cultured types can enjoy the New Orleans Museum of Art, which hosts live music, movies, and art parties every Friday night, sometimes until midnight. Because no one can exist solely on gumbo and Sazeracs. Right?

4. Cincinnati, OH

Average bedtime: 11:37 p.m.

Cincinnati? Seriously? OK, it may not be a renowned party-all-night mecca, but there are a disproportionate number of workers here who work the late shift. About 11% of Cincinnatians go to work between 4 p.m. and midnight, significantly higher than the national average of 7%, according to the Census Bureau.

That’s partly due to the city’s huge employment base in health care, in well-known hospitals like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. On-call doctors, paramedics, and emergency room nurses often work graveyard shifts. So do lot of factory jobs in this manufacturing center.

Apart from its hard-working side, Cincinnati is surprisingly fun after dark. Drag shows at The Cabaret start fashionably late, at 11 p.m. The Newport Aquarium invites families and kids to underwater sleepovers near the shark tank. TopGolf stays open for hitting golf balls and drinking beer (a great combo) until 1 a.m. on weekends. And neighborhood chili parlors crank out bowls of the city’s uniquely cinnamon-scented concoction until the sun rises.

5. Miami, FL

Average bedtime: 11:54 p.m.

While most beaches quiet down after sunset, Miami’s South Beach picks up as the night gets darker. Smoking-hot nightclubs, packed with beautiful folk and world-class DJs, are either operating 24 hours or well into the morning.

The wee hours are also the best time to score a bargain in this city. O Cinema Miami Beach offers $10 late-night movie screenings. South Beach’s Social Club kicks off its 10 p.m. happy hour with $5 brews on tap and a hearty bar menu, including a $16 bone marrow-laced burger to soak up the booze.

For those who don’t have the energy to party all night long anymore, don’t worry—not every night activity in Miami is nightlife-related. You could spend a quiet night fishing offshore for snapper and yellowtail; fishing trips include night trip (8 p.m. to midnight) or late-night trip (1 a.m. to 7 a.m.).


If you regularly fall asleep on the couch before “Saturday Night Live” comes on at midnight, here’s a news flash: You might be a morning person. Below are the criteria we used to find the best cities for early risers:

  • Percentage of home buyers using realtor.com before 9 a.m.
  • Average wake time
  • Average sunrise time
  • Percentage of workers commuting to work before 8 a.m.
  • Number of early-morning breakfast spots per capita
  • Percentage of Eventbrite events starting before 9 a.m.
  • Percentage of farmers’ markets opening before 9 a.m.

1. Honolulu, HI

Average wake time: 6:29 a.m.

Long before the sun comes up, Pier 38 comes to life as fishing boats pull into port and local chefs bid for the fresh catch. On the beach, surfers get up early to catch the best waves before heading off to work.

“You can surf, hike, swim—there’s so much you can do, that you actually need to get up early to fit it all in,” says Britt Young, a former blogger for Hawaii Aloha Travel in Honolulu. “The waves are nice in the morning, the view is beautiful, the crowds aren’t in yet. If you like morning activities, it’s really the perfect place.”

Many workdays in Honolulu begin at 7 a.m., with quitting time at 3 p.m.—to coordinate with the mainland time zone. This schedule works wonders for those who want to free up the afternoon to go to the beach (or pick up their kids).

At 6:29 a.m., Honolulu residents are among the earliest to get up in the country. Perhaps not coincidentally, Hawaii also leads the nation in sleep deprivation, with nearly half (44%) of Hawaiians not getting enough shut-eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It might sound charming to wake up to the sound of ocean waves and chirping fowl, unless those birds start singing way too early. The island is full of wild species (and less-wild roosters in your neighbor’s backyard) that keep you from sleeping in.

“If you are not up by 5:30 a.m., the birds are,” Young says.

2. Denver, CO

Average wake time: 6:52 a.m.

In a city known for its outdoor lifestyle, sleeping in is a waste of time.

The metro light rail is up and running at 4 a.m. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre gathers as many as 2,000 people at sunrise power yoga classes at 7 a.m. And Daybreaker, an early morning rave, has become a big hit. It kicks off at 6 a.m. with an hourlong yoga session, which devolves into a full-on, alcohol-free dance party. Attendees then go on to their daily lives—completely sober and feeling gloriously healthy.

“We have 300-plus days of true blue sky and sunshine,” says Lonnie Somers, founder of Running Denver, a running community. “It’s just really invigorating for people to want to get up and go outside.”

3. Scottsdale, AZ

Average wake time: 6:41 a.m.

Technically a suburb of Phoenix, Scottsdale has become a hot destination for retirees, who are attracted to the city’s resort-like amenities. It explains why Scottsdale locals are among the first in the country to get up—older people just get less sleep.

The sun rises in Scottsdale before 6:30 a.m. for most of the year. That gives residents of all ages plenty of time to enjoy the plethora of outdoor activities. This premium golf heaven has more than 200 courses, many of which open their doors as early as 6 a.m.

For non-retirees, work days start early, since many are employed in the tourism and health care industry. Business people also utilize freshly caffeinated morning time to organize events like breakfast networking, seminars, and conferences, judging from the prevalence of such events on Eventbrite.

4. Bakersfield, CA

Average wake time: 6.52 a.m.

North of Los Angeles, Bakersfield is an agricultural town where farmers rise with the sun. As a result, the city has some of the earliest-arriving workers in the country, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, the data journalism site. The median arrival time at work is 7:27 a.m. in Bakersfield, almost half an hour earlier than most of the United States.

Workers in the oil industry, another major industry in Bakersfield, also have early workdays, as they often clock 8- to 12-hour shifts on the oil rigs. Less than two hours from Los Angeles, with much more affordable homes, Bakersfield is also home to commuters who get up at an ungodly hour for the long trip to work.

However, there’s always time for the most important meal of the day. Bakersfield offers a mind-boggling variety of restaurants that open at 6 a.m., offering breakfast for early risers. Dig in.

5. Arlington, VA

Average wake time: 7:10 a.m.

There’s a good chance that many of the early birds in Arlington work at the nearby Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The military base has 9,800 personnel on active duty.

For civilians, Arlington livens up pretty early. Morning workouts here aren’t confined to the many 24-hour gyms—there are an impressive number of great trails and public parks. The Washington and Old Dominion trail, a 45-mile paved path along a former railroad nicknamed “Rails-to-Trails,” opens at 5 a.m. and is used by runners, walkers, and bikers alike.

Before or after workouts, locals head to the city’s restaurants that serve hot breakfasts, ranging from chicken and waffles to Chinese beef soup and even kabob plates.

Even weekends aren’t for sleeping in. The terrific Arlington Farmers Market opens at 8 a.m. every Saturday in the summer—rain or shine.

* Data sources: realtor.com, Jawbone, Census Bureau, Yelp, Grubhub, Fandango, Eventbrite, sunrise-sunset.org, United States Department of Agriculture


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: