Solitaire Bliss

Data Nerds Find America's Top Nerd-Friendly Cities

By Assaf Cohen - 06/13/2024
An illustration of three nerdy-looking people with a city silhouette in the background

The nerd was once a maligned figure, but today, it’s a badge of honor. From escape rooms and collectibles to classic games like chess or Solitaire, you’ll likely stick out if you don’t have at least one nerdy interest or hobby. Yet, what cities in the U.S. truly deserve to wear that nerdy badge of honor? Is there a true king of the nerds in America?

To find out, the Solitaire Bliss nerd squad found 10,000 nerdy businesses and events on Google and across the 75 largest U.S. cities. We then used the nerdiest analysis possible to rank cities based on the number of businesses and events per capita and find the nerdiest cities in America. Read on to find out if you live near a nerd haven!

Key Takeaways

  • Chicago, Las Vegas, and Houston are the nerdiest cities in the U.S.
  • Bookstores comprise 21% of all nerdy shops in the U.S., making them the most common type.
  • Houston, San Antonio, and Las Vegas have the most video game stores in the U.S.
  • With the most hacking, coding, and programming events, Oakland, California, has the most nerdy meetups by type.
  • Book clubs are 21% of all nerdy events in the U.S., making them the most common type.

The Nerdiest Cities in the U.S.

A U.S. map and table plotting the top 10 nerdiest cities by the number of nerdy shops and meetups

Our nerdfest reveals that Chicago, Las Vegas, and Houston stand tall as the nerdiest cities in the U.S. These cities have the most combined nerdy shops on Google Maps and nerdy events on per capita.

Looking at Google and Meetup data separately, we see that Orlando, Florida, has the most nerdy businesses per capita, with 57 for every 200,000 people. On the events side, Jersey City, New Jersey, emerges as the leader, with a total of 450 nerdy events scheduled in the next three months! With so many events in Jersey City, it has the most nerdy meetups by volume and per capita!

When it comes to nerdy shop volume, Chicago still emerges on top, with 215 nerdy shops on Google within its city limits—the most inside any U.S. city.

No matter how you slice the pie (and we’re talking 3.14), these cities exemplify peak nerd culture nationwide. Yet, not all cities are nerdy in the same way!

The Nerdiest Cities by Shop and Event Types

If you have a nerdy interest, knowing the city most obsessed with your niche can make all the difference! Imagine discovering the epicenter of your particular interest, where people, events, and businesses converge as the beating heart of your specific niche.

We've sleuthed out the top cities that are the ultimate nerdy hubs. Let’s delve into how these cities stand out by breaking down nerdiness into shop and event types.

First to Oakland, California—the hotspot for book clubs, hosting 90 book club events in the next three months! As if that were impressive enough, Oakland also tops the charts for the most hacking, coding, and programming meetups coming up. A U.S. map and table plotting the cities with the most nerdy meetups by type

However, before you sign up for an Oakland book club, hop over to Chicago for the best selection of books anywhere! Chicago boasts the highest number of bookstores, 80 within city limits, of any city in the nation! Not to be Oakland-outdone, Chicago also leads in the number of electronic repair stores and comic book stores.

When it’s time to get your game on, head to Las Vegas. It is the second nerdiest city in the country, specializing in the most video arcades. A U.S. map and table plotting the cities with the most nerdy meetups by type

The third nerdiest city in the U.S., Houston, stands out with more Barnes & Noble stores—with five locations inside city limits—than anywhere else in the country. It also has the most video game stores and ties with San Antonio for the most GameStops in city limits. Each city hosts a whopping 26 GameStop stores!

Now that we’ve glanced at the proverbial nerdy pie and examined each slice let’s put it back together for an overall view.

A Snapshot of the Nerdy U.S. Landscape

Specific trends emerge as we broaden our perspective to view the national nerdy landscape. Bookstores are the largest nerdy shop category, making up 21% of all nerdy shops in the U.S., with Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles collectively hosting 17% of these establishments.

Video game stores are the second largest nerdy shop category, with large concentrations in Houston, San Antonio, and Las Vegas. Together, these cities host 15% of all video game stores in the analysis.

On the event front, books win again, with book clubs the most popular nerdy meetup event type, constituting 21% of all nerdy events in the U.S. Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles host 12% of all these book club events.

The second most common event type is board game meetups, which are particularly popular in Newark, New Jersey, with 78 board game meetups—5% of the nation’s total—in the next three months! New York, Jersey City, New Jersey, Aurora, Colorado, and Denver are also board game hotspots, each with 77 meetups in the next three months. These five cities host 24% of the nation’s board game events!

Truly, the U.S. is a country of nerds, where nerdy cities abound. No matter where you live, nerdy interests and hobbies are likely thriving and accessible nearby, proving that nerdiness is a badge of honor you can wear anywhere.

Embrace Your Inner Nerd

There are many ways to be a nerd in 2024, but you don’t have to travel to a nerdy city to embrace your inner geeky passions! From video games to books, there are many ways to geek out at home. Whether you're indulging in modern favorites or enjoying timeless classics, there's something for every nerd to enjoy.

After all, the original nerdy engagements have survived the eras of nerd malignancy for a reason. Classic genres and sections in stores have maintained their popularity because they offer enduring enjoyment. So, take it back to the classics with a game like Spider Solitaire or FreeCell to earn your nerdy badge of honor!


In May 2024, we searched for businesses on Google Maps and events on that cater to nerds in the 75 largest U.S. cities. To capture these businesses on Google, we focused our analysis on 28 Google My Business (GMB) categories indicative of nerd-friendly transactions, such as bookstores, video game stores, comic book stores, video arcades, and escape room centers. In total, we found 5,030 businesses in these 75 cities that cater to nerds.

To capture these events on Meetup, we focused our analysis on 28 keywords indicative of nerdy hangouts. Those keywords include book club, board games, hack, chess, and more. In total, we found 5,433 events occurring between 5/10/24 and 8/5/24 on Meetup that cater to nerds.

To arrive at our final nerdiest cities in the U.S., we calculated a logarithmically transformed number of businesses and events per capita in each city. We then used Z-scores to normalize the number of businesses and events per capita and a variance-based weighting to combine the scores. These scores were then transformed to a 10-point scale to arrive at our final rankings.

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