Yelp unveils up-and-coming cities after analyzing 61 million reviews

Some of the top up-and-coming cities in the United States might surprise you. Ann Arbor, Michigan made the list for the sporty category; Providence, Rhode Island for nightlife; Austin, Texas for the arts scene; and Des Moines, Iowa for food. The rankings come courtesy of Yelp.

The review company’s data scientists cleaned up and analyzed 61 million reviews, looking at change in number of reviews over the last six months. They looked for cities that had a bunch of new, highly rated businesses in the aforementioned categories. Once they generated their initial list, they knocked off the biggest cities by population size to make sure they were spotting up-and-comers instead of old staunch favorites like New York. The analysis is the result of Yelp partnering with Women’s Health, which requested the data to do a spread.

Yelp has been criticized — mainly by its competitor Foursquare — for not harnessing data to improve Yelp customers’ experience. Instead of using contextual clues — like a person’s location and previously frequented places — to offer more direct recommendations, Yelp is a dumping ground for the unfiltered masses to spew their thoughts. Its mobile app has a “nearby” tab, but customized tastes aren’t quite as central to the experience as they are on Foursquare’s new app.

These days, it appears Yelp is trying to put its data to work, productizing it in reports like YelpTrends and Wordmap, which looked at how often and where certain words — like “cronut” or “tourist” — were used in certain cities. It recently made it easier for developers to use Yelp data, by expanding the number of API calls a third party app can make for free. The company has three full-time data scientists on staff. “It’s a small but growing team,” Yelp spokesperson Rachel Walker told me.

The hottest cities trending now, according to Yelp:

Top Five Sporty Cities

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Portland, Ore.
  3. Charlotte, N.C.
  4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  5. Jersey City, N.J.

Top Five Nightlife Cities

  1. Providence, R.I.
  2. Cleveland, Ohio
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Seattle, Wash.
  5. Memphis, Tenn.

Top Five Artsy Cities

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. San Diego, Calif.
  3. Raleigh, N.C.
  4. Orlando, Fla.
  5. Denver, Colo.

Top Five Foodie Cities

  1. Des Moines, Iowa
  2. Birmingham, Ala.
  3. Albuquerque, N.M.
  4. Oklahoma, Okla.
  5. Rochester, N.Y.