For National Park and Recreation Month, which happens to be July, the site WalletHub took a look at the best cities in the country for going out. To create the list, 35 metrics were considered that comprised four categories: entertainment and recreational facilities (music venues, coffee shops, hiking trails, food festivals, etc.); costs (prices for movies, bowling, beverages, etc.); quality of parks (number, access, playgrounds, percentage of city area); and climate.
Valley cities generally fell within the top 50 out of 100 major cities reviewed, but one rose to claim the number three position in the nation. That city is (drum roll, please) Scottsdale. (The first and second place winners were Orlando and Tampa, if you’re curious.)
And so, what features catapulted the West’s Most Western Town to one of the top 3 spots?
For the “Entertainment & Recreational Facilities” category, Scottsdale came in at 15th place owing to both its proximity to recreational desert expanses and numerous entertainment districts, plus ongoing events like the Scottsdale Artwalk. Keep up with special Artwalk happenings on our events page and read to the end for a map of Scottsdale’s extensive parks and recreation facilities.
For “Costs,” Scottsdale dropped to 22nd place, but any Valley resident knows that Scottsdale tends to be a bit pricier than other Valley cities. By contrast, Phoenix captured 2nd place in the “Costs” category, just behind St. Louis, Missouri.
For “Quality of Parks,” Scottsdale mustered only a slightly less than average 52nd place. While it features one of the highest percentages of parkland – only Anchorage, Alaska, and Chesapeake, Virginia beat it – parks are still underrepresented for the population of the former Orangedale (that’s the original name of Scottsdale). Plus, in southern Arizona, “parkland” often translates to open desert rather than a designed park.
Of course, both first- and second-place Orlando and Tampa scored even worse than Scottsdale in this category. The number one spot actually went to Anchorage, Alaska, followed by – no surprise – New York, receiving a boost from Central Park plus many pocket parks throughout Manhattan.
Where Scottsdale really pulled ahead was the “Climate” category with a 3rd place win. While some people find the climate nearly unbearable for 3 or 4 months out of the year, Scottsdale residents can always enjoy going outside for the other 8 or 9 months. And, even in July, it’s lovely here at 6 a.m. Plus, there’s those glorious 300+ days of sunshine.
In fact, the top 20 cities with the best climate were in Arizona, southern California or Nevada, with the outlier being a sneaky Tampa slipping into number 13. Obviously, the list wasn’t made by those who prefer the cooler climes of San Francisco, Portland or Seattle. We should also note that the 4th place overall winner – Cincinnati, Ohio – got incredibly high marks in every category except climate, which kept it from snagging a runaway win.
If you want to check out Scottsdale’s parks, as well as other recreational offerings, take a look at the map below, courtesy of the City of Scottsdale. Click the icon in the upper-right corner to see more options.
Want to how the other Valley cities did, or other cities around the country? Check out the interactive map below. Or if you want the data in table form, head over to WalletHub.
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org