Jennifer Kathryn Photography

liv score
694
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 75
Demographics 49
Economy 57
Education 71
Health 73
Housing 56
Infrastructure 69

#15. Ames, IA

Welcome to Ames, home of Iowa State University, ridiculously friendly people and a quality of life you won’t find anywhere else. This ambitious city in the center of Iowa is home to more than 65,000 people, and growing fast thanks in part to the caliber and quantity of job opportunities here. People love living in Ames because it’s a genuinely great place to raise a family. It’s affordable, it’s easy to get around and there’s plenty to do in your free time, whether you love college sports or going to the symphony. 

Top Industries and Employers: No surprise here: Iowa State is the largest employer here. Other top places to work include mobile hydraulics company Danfoss, Mary Greeley Medical Center and Hach Companies, which makes water quality analysis products.

Best Coffee Shop: Cafe Diem, which strikes just the right balance between college-student studying hangout and neighborhood living room.

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Alluvial Brewing Company — the taproom is set on a 40-acre organic farm, so you can wander through the vegetable garden or sit and gaze across the Iowa prairie.

Must-Have Meal: A burger or macaroni and cheese (or, let’s be honest, both) from The Cafe, an Ames staple not far from campus.

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Provisions Lot F, which is also great for brunch. 

Creative Hub: Octagon Center for the Arts, which hosts exhibits, classes, workshops, summer camps and other artsy events.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Strolling among the vendors at the Ames Main Street Farmers Market, lunch at Cornbred Barbecue and a concert or performance at Stephens Auditorium.

Free Way to Have Fun: Spend the afternoon at Ada Hayden Heritage Park, fishing, picnicking, riding bikes or just enjoying the peaceful scenery.

Local Dream Job: Resource recovery superintendent for the city. In this role, you’ll get to oversee Ames’ uniquely sustainable facility that burns garbage and converts it into electricity. When you live in Ames, your trash helps keep the lights on!

Read More:
Why Ames, IA is a Top 100 Best Place to Live
Moving to Ames? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.
Looking to Leave the Big City but Want All the Amenities? Move to Ames.

Sarah Kuta

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date with our latest rankings and articles!
Enter your email to be added to our mailing list.