Most Sinful Cities in America

New Orleans


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New Orleans

Sin Central

While Las Vegas is legendary for all things sinful and scandalous, it’s not the only place in America where people indulge their wilder sides. “From beer-loving Milwaukee to hedonistic New Orleans, the U.S. is filled with people behaving illicitly. No place is innocent,” says a WalletHub study, which ranks more than 180 of the most sinful cities across America based on factors you may recognize as the seven deadly sins: anger and hatred; jealousy; excesses and vices; greed; lust; vanity; and laziness. (In excesses and vices, the score includes a city’s share of obese adults; fast food establishments per capita; DUI fatalities; marijuana use; overdose deaths, debt-to-income ratio, and more.) Curious whether your city made the top 20?

Related: The Best and Worst Cities for a Healthy Lifestyle

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

20. Birmingham, Alabama

Excesses and Vices Rank: 11

The worst score for this city in WalletHub’s study comes in the “anger and hatred” ranking — Birmingham is No. 7 in the nation — which means violent crime. That may sound odd in a city with a slogan like "it's nice to have you in Birmingham." 

Related: The Most Beautiful Main Streets in Every State

Orlando, Florida

19. Orlando, Florida

Excesses and Vices Rank: 83

Can the home turf of Mickey Mouse and the capital of family entertainment really be all that sinful? Apparently so. As Florida crime expert Scott Cooper told Patch, “Many people seem to think that tourist hot spots are free of violent crime and criminal activity because of a higher law enforcement presence. This simply isn't the case.”

Related: The 10 Best Cities for a Summer Staycation — and the 10 Worst

Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Joel Carillet/istockphoto

18. New Orleans

Excesses and Vices Rank: 12

Two words: Mardi Gras. As the city that hosts one of the wildest, most decadent, and lust-filled annual events, is it really any surprise New Orleans lands among the top 15 sinful cities? It also ranks 22nd for “jealousy” crime out of more than 180.

Related: 26 Best Cheap Or Free Things To Do In New Orleans

Police Car in Times Square, New York City,

17. New York

Excesses and Vices Rank: 174

Such a low excess and vice ranking out of more than 180 cities hardly makes New York seem very sinful — but it’s “lust” and “vanity” that gets the Big Apple into trouble, where it ranks No. 8 and No. 3, respectively. Certainly the home of Plato's Retreat and Studio 54 in the 1970s has worked for its reputation, but police have been busting 80-person swingers’ parties right through the coronavirus pandemic. “Authorities say most people at the club were not wearing masks — or much else” while being way less than 6 feet apart, the Global News reported from one such event.

Related: 15 Types of People Who Shouldn't Visit New York City

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Waterfront Port
Judy Darby/istockphoto

16. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Excesses and Vices Rank: 8

Baton Rouge scored equally poorly in the anger and hatred category compared to excess and vice, ranking eighth out of more than 180 — which might make sense for this seat of state government, while “excess and vice” might get a boost from it hosting two universities and a port. Yet it did worse yet in the “laziness” category, coming in at No. 1.

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Old Town neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland

15. Baltimore

Excesses and Vices Rank: 15

Baltimore tied for first place for most violent crimes with Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; Detroit; Memphis, Tennessee; and St. Louis. But it’s the only place that provided the setting for five seasons of the television crime drama “The Wire.” And while it’s marketed as Charm City, in the past it’s had less PR-friendly nicknames: Mob Town and Syphilis City.

Related: The Best Things To Do In Baltimore

Little Rock, Arkansas

14. Little Rock, Arkansas

Excesses and Vices Rank: 24

While Little Rock might not be at the top of many charts, it seems like residents are well aware of that fact: the city scored in the top spot for jealousy.

North Las Vegas Sunset Cloudscape Superwide
Mike Lucas/istockphoto
Dallas, TX
Piotr Zawisza/shutterstock

12. Dallas

Excesses and Vices Rank: 120

Landing at No. 7 out of more than 180 for “vanity” and No. 4 for “lust,” Dallas is certainly no stranger to sinful fun. The vanity score is made up of such metrics as Google search interest for “top 3 plastic surgeries” and for tanning salons per capita. The lust score includes such factors as adult entertainment establishments per capita, most active Tinder users, and certain not-safe-for-work Google searches.

Related: Plastic Surgery and Other Cheap Choices That Can Cost You in the Long Run

Cleveland, Ohio

11. Cleveland

Excesses and Vices Rank: 9

Cleveland ties a handful of other cities for most violent crimes and comes in at No. 6 on the “anger and hatred” rank. That category includes some dark stuff: sex offenders per capita; aggravated assault offenses per 1,000 residents; bullying rates; hate-crime incidents and hate groups; deaths due to firearms; and the presence of terrorist attacks.

Related: 36 Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers

View of Beale Street Bars, Memphis, TN

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Excesses and Vices Rank: 39

Memphis is something of a mixed bag. Though it tied for first place with Baltimore and a handful of other cities for most violent crimes per capita, any bad reputation is by far overshadowed by its renown as a mecca for music and barbecue.

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Night traffic in Wicker Park, Chicago

9. Chicago

Excesses and Vices Rank: 124

Chicago gets its worst rankings for “vanity,” coming in No. 12. The third most populous city in the United States certainly a history in sin: While it drank illegally throughout Prohibition, it had brothels so notorious that they became the basis for a 2007 nonfiction book by Karen Abbott called “Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul.”

Related: 32 Secret Restaurants and Speakeasies Across America

Miami Beach
RAUL RODRIGUEZ/istockphoto

8. Miami

Excesses and Vices Rank: 131

Miami lands among the 10 worst in several of the sinful habits measured by WalletHub. It is No. 9 for “jealousy” crimes and No. 8 for “vanity." With its reputation for skin and sun-soaked excess, it’s no stretch to find The Magic City on this list. It literally had a police show named after it: “Miami Vice.”

Related: 30 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Miami

Downtown Atlanta
Marilyn Nieves/istockphoto

7. Atlanta

Excesses and Vices Rank: 85

Excess and vice are hardly Atlanta’s biggest challenges. The city is No. 4 out of more than 180 for “jealousy” crimes, No. 5 for “lust” and No. 9 for “vanity.” The rankings are not exactly shocking when you consider that Atlanta ties for first place for most adult-entertainment establishments per capita.

Philadelphia congestion

6. Philadelphia

Excesses and Vices Rank: 47

Philadelphia does poorly in the “anger and hatred” measure, landing at No. 13. You can find the dark side of "The Athens of America" either by stopping by its Sin City Cabaret (where only pictures of the food are safe for work) or on the news, where a 22-year-old Drexel graduate student got thousands of coronavirus vaccine doses with no experience administering them and was caught taking some home to give to friends.

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5. Denver

Excesses and Vices Rank: 33

Denver comes in right behind Washington, D.C., in excessive drinking, ranking No. 3 out of more than 180 cities. The Mile-High City also lands at No. 9 for “lust” — perhaps captured perfectly in a scandal that played out as the mayor took heat for sending inappropriate texts to a Denver police officer (years after a fellow friend was fired for doing the same thing with the same police officer).

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Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
Gabriele Maltinti/shutterstock

4. Los Angeles

Excesses and Vices Rank: 170

Home to countless celebrities whose livelihoods are wrapped up in their appearance, is it any wonder Los Angeles ranks No. 1 out of more than 180 for “vanity”? Los Angeles also ranks No. 2 for “lust” and has had no shortage of death and depravity associated with it, all the way back to the Manson Family and the Black Dahlia case. It’s also a short drive or shuttle flight away from the actual Sin City of Las Vegas.

Related: 22 Places to Hang Out Where You're Most Likely to See a Celebrity

Houston, Texas
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

3. Houston

Excesses and Vices Rank: 143

Houston is not far behind Atlanta in the race for most adult-entertainment establishments per capita, at No. 5. The city ranks No. 1 for “lust” and No. 5 for “vanity.” The Bayou City — the largest in the United States by total area — has an active port and several colleges and universities, and a music scene with a history of mixing cough syrup with beer or wine coolers recreationally that’s earned it another name: City of Syrup.

Related: 30 Cities Where Today's College Grads Can Actually Make a Living

Downtown Streets of St Louis, Missouri

2. St. Louis

Excesses and Vices Rank: 1

St. Louis really needs to get itself to a therapist. The city ranks No. 1 for anger and hatred, and No. 1 for excess and vice. If all of that is not enough, it also ties for No. 1 for most violent crimes per capita and most thefts per capita.

Related: The 20 Safest Big Cities in the U.S.

Las Vegas Fremont Street

1. Las Vegas

Excesses and Vices Rank: 66

Finally, the city that turned sin into a weekend getaway. It’s hardly shocking that Las Vegas tops this WalletHub ranking, though ranking as low as 66th for excess and vice is surprising considering an economy based in large part on activities such as gambling and strip clubs. Sin City holds its own in other categories, though: It ranks No. 2 for "greed," No. 3  for “lust" and No. 4 for “vanity.”

Related: 20 Rat Pack Haunts You Can Still Visit in Las Vegas and Beyond