2022’s Best Cities for Country Music Fans

Woman in cowboy hat and crowd enjoying live country music show

Remember that time you slashed your boyfriend’s tires for flirting with a bleach-blond tramp? Or when you went fishing to forget how much you miss your wife (the one you left)?

If those bluesy, downhome lyrics sound like your life’s story, then you probably love you some good ol’ country. But where are the best U.S. cities to live like you were dying?

Marking International Country Music Day this Sept. 17, LawnStarter ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Country Music Fans. 

We compared over 180 of the biggest cities based on eight key factors, such as the number of country music festivals, access to performance venues, and the affordability of concert tickets.

We also gauged local interest in the genre based on Google search data, the number of country music stations, and even the existence of country music museums.

See which cities’ dirt roads lead to the top country music scenes below, followed by some highlights and lowlights


City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreAccess RankVenue Quality RankGenre Interest RankConcert Affordability Rank
1Nashville, TN77.141681116
2New York, NY44.20276247
3Salt Lake City, UT32.513504734
4Atlanta, GA31.591147433
5Charleston, SC28.4844510248
6Chicago, IL28.222260614
7Austin, TX27.882065542
8Richmond, VA26.238266043
9Eugene, OR25.877365169
10Denver, CO25.3614791330
11Pittsburgh, PA25.0157542141
12Grand Rapids, MI24.21151263111
13Seattle, WA24.0626551613
14Portland, OR23.9819623126
15St. Louis, MO23.64610337139
16Knoxville, TN23.41121434181
17Minneapolis, MN22.9023632044
18Los Angeles, CA22.666990358
19Cincinnati, OH22.6218732896
20San Francisco, CA22.136016236
21Boston, MA22.1240323928
22Savannah, GA22.05970107143
23Baton Rouge, LA21.98164887121
24Birmingham, AL21.4139753130
25Rochester, NY21.34104172179
26Dallas, TX21.226633877
27Indianapolis, IN21.06256926104
28Madison, WI20.9832467636
29Denton, TX20.743418137101
30Huntsville, AL20.7228598041
31New Orleans, LA20.681310554129
32Memphis, TN20.1543569171
33Washington, DC20.155753258
34Kansas City, MO19.80336646102
35Chattanooga, TN19.67178469157
36Buffalo, NY19.39272955175
37Houston, TX19.269639782
38Des Moines, IA19.2346349571
39Pomona, CA19.011521164123
40Grand Prairie, TX18.86168115597
41Louisville, KY18.84319138105
42Milwaukee, WI18.68483539127
43Macon, GA18.653042155152
44Mobile, AL18.26416110598
45Lexington, KY18.2436856575
46Orlando, FL18.21427724151
47Springfield, MO18.12217280172
48Colorado Springs, CO18.0549585656
49Fort Collins, CO17.912411311650
50Charlotte, NC17.8363881849
51Raleigh, NC17.7664712953
52Philadelphia, PA17.60782316145
53Tacoma, WA17.5961297489
54Providence, RI17.535038122110
55Spokane, WA17.43377873125
56St. Paul, MN17.3871285262
57Columbus, OH17.3059832187
58San Diego, CA17.1097431539
59Corpus Christi, TX17.07681178114
60Las Vegas, NV16.94389819180
61Fort Wayne, IN16.86103480119
62Worcester, MA16.71728150122
63Tampa, FL16.61762736120
64Tulsa, OK16.603511159117
65Tucson, AZ16.44516443156
66Wichita, KS16.33291196576
67Oklahoma City, OK16.324510648112
68Phoenix, AZ16.0898491472
69Fort Worth, TX16.0362963290
70Little Rock, AR16.0154896463
71Amarillo, TX15.941135109128
72San Antonio, TX15.92798611131
73Boise, ID15.65471079186
74Tempe, AZ15.59743711894
75Cleveland, OH15.38704427170
76Joliet, IL15.221012015522
77San Jose, CA15.07133223910
78Sacramento, CA14.9480743595
79Baltimore, MD14.69758730109
80Albuquerque, NM14.655210943144
81Bakersfield, CA14.409510010103
82Omaha, NE14.25551184567
83Greensboro, NC14.21922592118
84Syracuse, NY14.187713120178
85Montgomery, AL14.16651241274
86Winston-Salem, NC14.109129103124
87Long Beach, CA14.0812296784
88Lincoln, NE14.07561128888
89Jackson, MS14.034411598147
90Dayton, OH13.87675780168
91Murfreesboro, TN13.81845461132
92Reno, NV13.38588095173
93Bridgeport, CT13.341243182182
94Shreveport, LA13.259324142154
95Akron, OH13.129919120146
96St. Petersburg, FL13.00895277138
97Columbus, GA12.9910617138140
98Detroit, MI12.92815150177
99McAllen, TX12.531406162135
100Scottsdale, AZ12.5273120939
101Fullerton, CA12.451274017238
102Augusta, GA12.3110420122159
103Riverside, CA12.16158106783
104Fort Lauderdale, FL11.70881087192
105Oakland, CA11.691001049335
106Norfolk, VA11.341029212255
107Tallahassee, FL11.345311688174
108Henderson, NV11.331351598150
109Durham, NC11.03105927880
110Miami, FL10.991119222165
111Aurora, IL10.8012310217412
112Fresno, CA10.521088162137
113Mesa, AZ10.47143675885
114Jacksonville, FL10.281109733161
115Salem, OR9.828212410961
116Midland, TX9.639012415331
117Alexandria, VA9.511121221293
118Anchorage, AK9.459412411419
119Hampton, VA9.378512415564
120Huntington Beach, CA9.241489214725
121Sioux Falls, SD9.1587121130106
122Sunnyvale, CA9.051551101762
123Naperville, IL9.031161241591
124El Paso, TX8.991378249149
125Lubbock, TX8.738312480126
126Virginia Beach, VA8.461181245617
127Jersey City, NJ7.9311512412721
128Chandler, AZ7.9111412411227
129Aurora, CO7.831071247560
130Cape Coral, FL7.6412999132155
131Santa Ana, CA7.6215410111791
132McKinney, TX7.4811912413624
133Overland Park, KS7.261301247011
134Waco, TX7.1986124130167
135Bellevue, WA7.151421241624
136Toledo, OH6.95120113101162
137Chesapeake, VA6.7213912411918
138Santa Rosa, CA6.4112512415057
139Santa Clarita, CA6.3513812411332
140Roseville, CA6.2313412414437
141Newport News, VA6.1512612414166
142Plano, TX5.971461249720
143Vancouver, WA5.831611178593
144Modesto, CA5.66121124134108
145Frisco, TX5.331781241267
146Arlington, TX5.3313612485100
147Clarksville, TN5.2710912490169
148Irvine, CA5.2616412410415
149Glendale, AZ5.21132124114107
150Rockford, IL5.1414112414973
151Fremont, CA5.111821241605
152Fayetteville, NC4.80117124106163
153Corona, CA4.7317412314445
154Orange, CA4.6916712416423
155Olathe, KS4.6616612417016
156Anaheim, CA4.6315712410065
157Pasadena, CA4.6216312415329
158Escondido, CA4.5514412416899
159Irving, TX4.3615112413579
160Surprise, AZ4.2815012417278
161Oceanside, CA4.1715912414868
162Lakewood, CO4.1517212410753
163Hayward, CA4.1217312417540
164Carrollton, TX4.0916512417646
165Stockton, CA4.07147124111115
166Peoria, AZ3.9917512413351
167San Bernardino, CA3.96128124144160
168Chula Vista, CA3.8118112413952
169Kansas City, KS3.80145124127133
170Glendale, CA3.6317912415259
171Springfield, MA3.51131124179166
172Yonkers, NY3.3818012416070
173Garden Grove, CA3.2317612417981
174Mesquite, TX3.13153124164134
175Lancaster, CA3.06156124170136
176Hollywood, FL3.00149124122153
177Palmdale, CA2.79169124178113
178Laredo, TX2.56162124142148
179Paterson, NJ2.22170124181142
180Newark, NJ2.07160124164164
181Killeen, TX1.81171124140158
182Brownsville, TX0.74177124168176
Infographic showing the Best Cities for Country Music Fans, a ranking based on access to country music concerts and venues, concert ticket affordability, country music radio stations, and more

Highlights and Lowlights

Undefeated Nashville

For the second year in a row, Nashville, Tennessee, topped our ranking charts as 2022’s unofficial Country Music Capital.

This outcome was really a foregone conclusion. After all, Music City is where country legends are born — and where many stay. Stars like Dolly Parton and Kacey Musgraves call the area home, so if you aspire to be the next Carrie Underwood or Morgan Wallen, Nashville is the place to put down roots.

In our ranking, Music City naturally dominated the Access and Genre Interest categories. No other big city has booked more acts for the next 2 years and Googled country music-related terms more times over the past 12 months.

Where Nashville could use a tune-up: Concert Venue Quality (No. 68) and Affordability (No. 116), though neither seems to have deterred fans. Despite the disappointing stats in these categories, Nashville scored an impressive 33 points higher than the next best country city, New York.

Cowpoke Country

Our top 10 wouldn’t be right without at least one city from Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the World. After all, country music traces some of its roots to the Lone Star State, particularly its cowboy and cowgirl history.

And what better city to fill that spot than the Live Music Capital of the World? At lucky No. 7, Austin boasts a strong country music scene. Every year, the city hosts the popular iHeartCountry Festival featuring the biggest names in country music and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Stats-wise, Austin’s biggest strength is Genre Interest at No. 5. Austin offers plenty of upcoming country concerts, too, placing 14th in this ranking factor. You won’t find a better Texas city if country’s your jam. Dallas comes the closest, at No. 26.

Country Hubs vs. Country Snubs

There are cities Dierks Bently might call “Risers.” Those include the biggest of the big cities that boot-scooted their way to the top of our ranking (or near it). Fringe cities, on the other hand, broke our hearts with their poor performances overall.

Newark and Paterson, New Jersey, for example, occupy two of the five worst spots, but they’re redeemed by their close proximity to silver medalist New York. In other words, these metro outliers don’t need to find their own voice in the country music scene.

It’s a similar story for other cities like Lancaster, California (No. 8 worst), which is sandwiched between two heavy hitters: iconic Bakersfield (No. 81) — dubbed “The Country Music Capital of the West Coast” and “Nashville West” — and Los Angeles (No. 18).

Our bottom cities include some literal outliers, too, mostly in Texas. Coming in last place is Brownsville, Texas, a city that’s more “country” than “country music.” Killeen (Me Softly) — pardon the irresistible pun — was last year’s worst but moved up one spot in 2022. This military city is known more for its fort than anything else.

Surprising Findings

Birthplace of Country?

New York is our first runner-up this year, displacing Las Vegas, our previous silver medalist, but does The Big Apple deserve a spot in our top 5? 

The short answer is yes if for no other reason than a claim guaranteed to ruffle some feathers: that The Big Apple is the real birthplace of the genre — based on a technicality — not Bristol, Virginia, the Congressionally designated official birthplace of country

In terms of performance, New York far outnumbered the competition in country radio stations — 24 in all, nearly double the number in Nashville (13). Gotham also will host the fourth-highest number of upcoming country concerts. Last and perhaps most unexpected, the city recorded the second-highest (population-adjusted) volume of Google searches for country terms.

Clearly New Yorkers can’t get enough country in the big city. 

Nationwide Country

It wouldn’t be called “country” if all its fans were concentrated in one region. Although country music is heavily associated with the South, the all-too-relatable songs draw fans from all over America — even around the globe. According to the Country Music Awards, over 139 million listeners tune in to country from every part of the U.S.

Our top 10 alone reflects those trends. Half of those cities are still in the South, as expected, but the other five cover every other region. New York (No. 2) reps the North, Chicago (No. 6) the Midwest, and Denver (No. 10) the Mountain region. Eugene, Oregon (No. 9), stands in for the West Coast, while Salt Lake City (No. 2) shines for the Southwest.

Last year, the South made up the majority of our top 20, but many dropped position this year after we accounted for concert venue quality and concert ticket affordability.

You might even be surprised to learn that New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — in that order — took up some of the highest spots in average monthly Google searches for country terms.

Ask The Experts

Every now and then, country music finds a new sound just like all other genres. 

To help you find what’s fresh and which classics pair well with the two-step, our panel of country music experts threw their voices into the conversation. See what they had to say below.

  1. What’s the new flavor of country music? What’s next?
  2. Where are the best places for country music fans to discover new songs or artists that will resonate with them?
  3. Who are some up-and-coming artists to watch out for? What makes them stand out?
  4. What’s the best country music song for line dancing — Boot-Scootin’ Boogie or Electric Slide or Achy-Breaky Heart — and why?
  5. What’s the best way to be introduced to country music? Which 10 songs or 10 artists would you include in an “intro” playlist?
Craig Brandwein
Assistant Professor Music Technology
Tony Gross
President of GFI Music Rochester Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Rochester Rifle Club Board of Directors
Craig Brandwein
Assistant Professor Music Technology
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Music

What’s the new flavor of country music?

There is currently a modernization in the production of country music. While there is still a great deal of live music being recorded, there is also a fair amount of music that is being produced in home production studios, then brought to a recording to record the vocals and mix or master the track. This leads to a much wider variety of the types of music that are now labeled “country.”

While the lyrical content may be a storyline that would play well in a country music setting, sometimes the track tends to be a bit outside the organic sounds of how country music has been produced over the past several decades.

What’s next?

There is a great opportunity for unsigned artists and songwriters to showcase their material. The genre will evolve with the technology whereby more and more music will be produced that may be influenced by country music and perhaps create its own unique form of expression.

Where are the best places for country music fans to discover new songs or artists that will resonate with them?

The best places for country music fans to discover new songs or artists are on streaming outlets and social media platforms.

Tony Gross
President of GFI Music Rochester Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Rochester Rifle Club Board of Directors
GFI Music/Productions

What’s the new flavor of country music? What’s next?

Country Music has many flavors. We’re digging the tunes that have a bit of a retro appeal, and it seems like the “new flavor” has some old roots creeping in. So, the fires are starting to burn with some old flame.

Where are the best places for country music fans to discover new songs or artists that will resonate with them?

Anywhere there’s music –– CMT Music Channel, Indie radio, music blogs, friends, any online music platform, and even soundtracks. Maybe up next, friends will have listening parties and listen to entire albums –– I’m open to an invite!

Who are some up-and-coming artists to watch out for? What makes them stand out?

Claudia Hoyser, Charlie Crocket, Ruston Kelly

They connect with solid songs and honest production.

What’s the best country music song for line dancing — Boot-Scootin’ Boogie or Electric Slide or Achy-Breaky Heart — and why?

Achy-Breaky Heart (I had to ask others!)

What’s the best way to be introduced to country music? Which 10 songs or 10 artists would you include in an “intro” playlist?

  1. The Gambler- Kenny Rogers
  2. Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell
  3. Jolene – Dolly Parton
  4. Ode to Billy Joe – Bobbie Gentry
  5. Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys – Willie Nelson
  6. Strawberry Wine – Deanna Carter
  7. I hope you Dance – Lee Ann Womack
  8. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  9. Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks
  10. The House That Built Me – Miranda Lambert

Behind the Ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into four categories: Access, Venue Quality, Genre Interest, and Concert Affordability. 

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each metro across all categories. We eliminated eight cities lacking sufficient data in a single category, resulting in a final sample size of 182 cities.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 182). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 182 due to ties among cities.)

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Country Music Concert Venues per 100,000 Residents30.315.3Max. Value
Number of Country Music Concerts30384Max. Value
Number of Country Music Radio Stations3024Max. Value
Venue Quality
Average Rating of Country Music Concert Venues (Out of 5 Stars)115Max. Value
Share of Country Music Concert Venues Rated 4.5+ Stars20%100%Max. Value
Genre Interest
Average Monthly Google Searches for Country Music-Related Terms Over Past 12 Months335036,770Max. Value
Number of Country Music and Related Museums305Max. Value
Concert Affordability
Average Ticket Price for Country Music Concerts (Income-Adjusted)10.03%0.11%Min. Value

Sources: Concerts50, Country Music on Tour, Google Ads, Indie on the Move, myTuner Radio, Taste of Country, and Wikipedia

Final Thoughts

Why is LawnStarter ranking the Best Cities for Country Music Fans? 

First of all, we’re based in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, so that should clue readers in on our music tastes.

Our industry’s closer to the genre than most people think, too. Nothing epitomizes “country” more than yard work. Just this year, Josh Melton released his single “Cutting Grass,” and the title delivers on its promise — it’s a song about lawn care.

So, on International Country Music Day this Sept. 17, slather on the Coppertone, and enjoy mowing your grass while you listen to your favorite country hits. If you’d rather just enjoy the tunes, hire a local LawnStarter pro instead.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Richie Bernardo

Richie Bernardo

Richie Bernardo is a managing editor who previously wrote about personal finance and immigration. Philippine-born, Kansas City-bred, and barbecue-fed, Richie enjoys baking, deal hunting, and binging “Ancient Aliens.”