With July being National Parks and Recreation Month and maintaining a healthy weight through exercise saving people up to $1,500 in healthcare costs each year, the website personal finance WalletHub has released its report on the best and worst cities for leisure in 2022.
To highlight the benefits of recreational activities to consumers and economies across the country, WalletHub compared the 100 largest US cities across 47 key indicators of leisure friendliness. For each city, WalletHub looked at the accessibility of entertainment and recreation facilities, the quality of parks, and the weather.
To view the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-for-recreation/5144
The best cities for recreation, the top 10, are: Las Vegas, NV at number one, followed by Orlando, FL; Cincinnati, Ohio; Tampa, Florida; Scottsdale, Ariz.; San Diego, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta, Georgia; Honolulu, HI; and New Orleans, LA rounding out the top 10.
At the bottom of the list, the worst cities for recreation are: Memphis, TN at number 91, followed by Aurora, CO; Durham, North Carolina; Garland, TX; Oakland, California; Irving, Texas; Newark NJ; Jersey City, New Jersey; Chula Vista, California; and, at the very bottom, number 100, the worst city for recreation, Fort Wayne, IN.
The best against the worst
• San Francisco and Boston have the highest share of the population with access to a walkable park, 100%, which is 3.1 times higher than Indianapolis, the city with the lowest at 32%.
• Las Vegas has the most playgrounds per square root of population, 1.128457, or 22.7 times more than Hialeah, Florida, the city with the fewest at 0.049627.
• San Francisco has the highest spending on parks per capita, $442, or 21 times more than Stockton, California, the city with the lowest spending at $21.
• San Francisco has the most bike rental facilities per square root of population, 0.048113, or 39.7 times more than El Paso, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.001213 .
What are cost-effective ways for local authorities to improve parks and leisure facilities?
“Local policymakers and advocates can cost-effectively improve parks and recreation facilities using multiple approaches. Here are two approaches that we believe have a lot of impact: Engage people – ensuring decision-makers focus on people’s needs and local priorities. By having a clear understanding of the experiences and outcomes people are looking for, community leaders can make informed and impactful investments. A second key is co-production – using both an internal and external partnership approach. When departments, agencies, and community institutions work together to identify common goals, shared resources, and shared timelines, they can meet costs together, be more efficient with resources, and share assets (land, operations, time , people and expertise). Moreover, by working together, they can also usually reach a wider audience and more voters.
Jamie Rae Walker – Associate Professor and Urban and Municipal Parks Extension Specialist, Texas A&M University
What is the biggest mistake local authorities make in building and maintaining parks and recreation facilities?
“The biggest mistake local authorities can make is being disconnected from their constituents and the communities they serve. This often leads to unsustainable programs, a lack of long-term support and funding, and facilities that do not match community needs, values, and expectations.
Randall S. Rosenberger, Ph.D. – Associate Dean, Student Success and Special Projects, Oregon State University, College of Forestry
Should local authorities prioritize the funding of recreational activities for certain groups over others (eg the elderly or children)?
“If we prioritize funding for recreational activities, we wouldn’t have an inclusive recreational environment, which is what we in recreation, parks and tourism management advocate. Priority for services often comes from those who frequent and use recreational services. I would not say to target certain groups, but to offer programs to those who frequent and use the recreational facilities.
Katrina Black Reed, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Penn State Abington