With July being National Parks and Recreation Month, and maintaining a healthy weight through exercise saving people up to $1,500 in health care costs each year, the personal-finance website WalletHub has released its report on 2022’s Best & Worst Cities for Recreation.
To highlight the benefits of recreational activities for consumers and economies across the country, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 47 key indicators of recreation-friendliness. For each city, WalletHub examined the accessibility of entertainment and recreational facilities, the quality of parks and the weather.
To view the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-for-recreation/5144
Best cities for recreation, the top 10, are: Las Vegas, NV at number one, followed by Orlando, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Tampa, FL; Scottsdale, AZ; San Diego, CA; Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta, GA; 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, NC; Garland, TX; Oakland, CA; Irving, TX; Newark NJ; Jersey City, NJ; Chula Vista, CA; and, coming in at the very bottom, number 100, the worst city for recreation, Fort Wayne, IN.
Best vs. Worst
• San Francisco and Boston have the highest share of the population with walkable park access, 100 percent, which is 3.1 times higher than in Indianapolis, the city with the lowest at 32 percent.
• Las Vegas has the most playgrounds per square root of the population, 1.128457, which is 22.7 times more than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the fewest at 0.049627.
• San Francisco has the highest spending on parks per capita, $442, which is 21 times higher than in Stockton, California, the city with the lowest at $21.
• San Francisco has the most bike rental facilities per square root of the population, 0.048113, which is 39.7 times more than in El Paso, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.001213.
What are some cost-effective ways for local authorities to improve parks and recreation facilities?
“Local decision-makers and advocates can improve parks and recreation facilities in cost-effective ways using several approaches. Two approaches we see being very impactful are: Getting people involved – making sure decisions makers focus on what people need and the local priorities. By having a clear understanding of what experiences and outcomes people seek, community leaders can make informed and impactful investments. A second key is co-production – using a partnership approach both internally and externally. When community departments, agencies, and institutions partner together to identify shared goals, shared resources, and shared timelines they can shoulder costs together, be more efficient with resources, and share assets (land, operations, time, people, and expertise). Furthermore, by working together they can also usually reach broader audiences and more constituents.”
Jamie Rae Walker – Associate Professor and Extension Specialist Urban and Municipal Parks, Texas A&M University
What is the biggest mistake local authorities make in building and maintaining parks and recreation facilities?
“The biggest mistake that can be made by local authorities is being out-of-touch with their constituents and the communities that they serve. This often leads to unsustainable programs, a lack of long-term support and funding, and facilities that are misaligned with 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 funding recreational activities for certain groups over others (e.g. elderly or children)?
“If we provide priority of funding for recreational activities then we would not have an inclusive recreational environment, which is what we, in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management field, preach. Priority of services often comes from those who frequent and use the recreational services. I would not say to zone in on certain groups but offer programs to those who attend and use the recreational facilities.”
Katrina Black Reed, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Penn State Abington