According to a recently released national survey, Scottsdale residents are reasonably happy to enjoy a wide range of leisure activities, from parks and playgrounds to restaurants and theaters.
Phoenix is ranked 6th among the 100 largest cities in the United States in a list of the best cities for recreation compiled by financial website wallethub.com.
Scottsdale also topped the list of seven Arizona cities surveyed.
But Scottsdale was even better when it came to the total score that wallethub.com assigned to each of the 100 cities for inclusion in the rankings. The combined score of 55.2 was not far from the top recreation city in the nation, Las Vegas, Nevada, with 61.43 points.
Other top four include Orlando, FL at 2nd, Tampa, FL, 3; Cincinnati, OH, 4; and Atlanta, GA, 5.
Scottsdale is the least preferred city for recreation among the 100 cities highlighted by wallethub. Raleigh Chula Vista, Calif., earned that dubious honor with a score of 30.5, trailing second-worst Newark, New Jersey.
To determine the rankings, wallethub.com has assigned points to various features they believe constitute a solid base definition for recreational activities of all kinds, grouping them into four categories.
These categories include:
• Over 30 different types of public and private facilities, from trails and per capita basketball hoops to public beaches and pools, coffee shops and baseball/softball diamonds.
• price. Wallet Hub includes massages and grooming, as well as fitness club memberships and his affordable five-star restaurants.
• Park quality. It includes factors such as the percentage of the city’s population that has walkable parks, and the area of parks and playgrounds per capita.
• For weather, Scottsdale ranked third behind Riverside and Bakersfield, California. This ranked Scottsdale 29th for cost and 30th for accessibility to entertainment and recreation facilities and quality of parks, making the westernmost city in the top 10. All communities in Arizona, and in fact 99 communities across the United States, were far ahead of Buffalo, New York.
Wallethub explained why they were interested in finding the best recreational locations in the country: It’s also kind to your wallet.
“The best cities have a wide range of leisure activities, both indoors and outdoors,” says the report. “These activities require different levels of exercise and contribute to the overall well-being and economy of the city.”
The group values parks, so Awatu Key’s proximity to South Mountain Preserve and Pecos Park and Pool puts it ahead of, say, Birmingham, Alabama and bottom-tied San Bernardino, California.
What would be the best location for a park in the eyes of Wallet Hub? New York City, then Madison, Wisconsin. Anchorage, Alaska. San Francisco, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When it comes to recreation costs, Glendale.
Wallethub stated a recreational rating. This cost also includes bowling, movie tickets, booze, hamburgers, pizza and your average restaurant meal.
By that formula, not only did Glendale become the nation’s most economical recreational destination, but Toledo, Ohio, ranked second, Fort Wayne, Indiana, third, Wichita, Kansas, fourth, and Oklahoma City, fifth.
According to Wallethub.com, New York City is the least budget-friendly city in America, not surprisingly.
This website has taken a closer look to identify the 5 highest and 5 lowest cities in various individual categories.
Here are the cities in Arizona that made it to our list of the worst:
• Mesa and Gilbert ranked 5th and 4th respectively for the lowest number of tennis courts per capita (Honolulu, Hawaii ranked highest).
• Scottsdale ranks 4th with the highest percentage of parkland to total city area. Mesa also made the list, but had the fifth lowest ratio of parkland to total city area.
• Tucson’s bowling costs were the fifth lowest in the nation.
WalletHub also asked five university professors, four of whom have doctoral degrees, who are experts on the subject of recreation, for their opinions on whether cities should raise taxes or expand their debt through bond issuance to invest in parks and recreation.
All four cautioned that it would depend on individual city needs, but to some extent, all thought the idea was worth pursuing. A fifth expert did not answer questions.
“Exactly,” said Dr. Stephanie West of James Madison University, the most ardent proponent of the idea. “Any recreation professor would answer: Investing in community parks and recreation is like investing in your home.
“We need to make sure our investments are reasonable and fair, but investments in parks and recreation add value to our communities.”
Oddly enough, a WalletHub study released in May rated 182 cities as the best places for a staycation, but Scottsdale was far less favorable.
Scottsdale was ranked 16th in the nation and the second best Arizona state after Tucson, which was ranked 15th in the nation. Scottsdale, on the other hand, has a much higher staycation rating than Gilbert among Arizona municipalities at 162.
For Best Staycation in America, wallethub has honored Honolulu, Hawaii.
For the full survey: wallethub.com