Best Cities for Recreation in 2023

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July is National Parks and Recreation Month and even though we're heading full speed ahead toward the dog days of summer, getting outside is still important for our physical and mental health. Here are 2023's best cities for recreation. 

All supporting data was provided by Wallet Hub. Elements compared were the accessibility of entertainment and recreational facilities, the quality of parks, and the weather. 

Best Cities for Recreation in 2023

Kids in a park.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

1. Las Vegas

Desert Outside Vegas.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

If you get yourself off the strip, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation. 

2. Orlando

Kayaking in FL.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Orlando might be known for theme parks but there's more to discover. Paddling trails, boat tours, birding, nature trails and more are waiting for you if you want to plan a non-theme park day.

3. Tampa

Tampa Bay.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Tampa Bay has many parks, green spaces, wildlife-watching opportunities, and many more fun, family-friendly outdoor spaces. 

4. Cincinnati

Cincinnati Parks.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Hike, paddle, stroll, golf, and more in Cincy.

5. Atlanta

Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs are full of parks, gardens, and green spaces. If you're a Hunger Games fan, check out Bellwood Quarry, which was the backdrop for a scene in Mockingjay Part 1 where Katniss first sings the song, The Hanging Tree.

6. Scottsdale

Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Trails, lakes, and rivers in the Sonoran Desert – Scottsdale has almost endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. If you want the ultimate outdoor experience in Scottsdale, see the outdoors from a hot air balloon. 

7. San Diego

Balboa Park.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Balboa Park is one of North America's most iconic urban and cultural spaces. 

8. Honolulu

Hiking Diamond Head.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

With miles of beautiful beaches and spectacular hikes, such as Diamond Head and Koko Head, it's no surprise that this Hawaiian city ranked in the top ten cities with the best outdoor recreation.

9. St Louis

Forest Park IL.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

Forest Park is the city's most well-known green space. Home to hiking and bike trails, a tennis center, and a skating rink, Forest Park has so many options for outdoor recreation. The St Louis Zoo is also located in Forest Park.

10. Chicago

Kayaking On The Chicago River.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

In addition to miles of lakefront trails and a river to kayak in, Chicago is home to many skate parks, urban playgrounds, and other green spaces. 

Fun Facts – Best versus Worst

Biking in San Francisco.
Image credit: Deposit Photos.

San Francisco and Boston have the highest share of the population with walkable park access, 100 percent, which is 3.1 times higher than Indianapolis, the city with the lowest at 32 percent. San Francisco also has the highest spending on parks per capita, $515, which is 15.6 times higher than Jersey City, New Jersey with the lowest at $33. 

San Francisco comes in on top again with the most bike rental facilities per square root of the population, 0.049433. That is 35 times higher than Kansas City, Missouri, which rounds out the bottom on the bike rental metric at 0.001411. 

New York has the most playgrounds per square root of the population, 0.660085, which is 13 times more than Hialeah, Florida, the city with the fewest at 0.050668. 

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