The Best Cities to Play Pickleball in the U.S.

Published April 6, 2021

The best cities for pickleball around the U.S.

When you think of the next big sport tearing across the United States, you might not think about pickleball. Maybe it’s not your second guess, either, or even your third guess. But, you’d be surprised. In fact, the ping-pong-tennis hybrid has increased by 650 percent in participation numbers over the last six years, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

So what do you actually do in one of the fastest growing sports in America? So glad you asked. Players wield unique paddles to rally a perforated wiffle ball back and forth in hopes to win points on tennis courts retrofitted with specific pickleball lines.

It’s a low-impact game that provides a workout without overdoing it. It’s also very social, with communities popping up on a national level and doubles being one of the most common play styles. So, while growing in popularity with a wide range of demographics, the sport has a particularly fierce following with the senior crowd.

However, some locations are better than others when it comes to the pickleball lifestyle. For example, factors like the number of available courts, number of existing pickleball communities, and climate all play into the quality of the pickleball experience in any given locale. With pickleball ticking all the boxes for retirees across the country, we were curious to find out which locations are best for enthusiasts to live.

So which cities in the U.S. are the best for playing pickleball?

Methodology
We collected data on the 50 largest U.S. cities based on population size for the following factors which affect the quality of the pickleball experience:

  1. Number of Indoor Pickleball Courts Per 100,000 People
    1. Source: Global Pickleball Network
    2. Weight: 2.00
  2. Number of Outdoor Pickleball Courts Per 100,000 People
    1. Source: Global Pickleball Network
    2. Weight: 0.25
  3. Number of Pickleball Clubs and Communities Per 100,000 People
    1. Source: USA Pickleball
    2. Weight: 0.25
  4. Number of Establishments for Pickleball Lessons Per 100,000 People
    1. Source: Yelp
    2. Weight: 0.25
  5. Average Days of Precipitation
    1. Source: Current Results
    2. Weight: 2.00
  6. Average Temperature Difference from 70 Degrees Fahrenheit
    1. Source: Current Results
    2. Weight: 0.25

We assigned cities with a score of 0-10 for each factor, with a score of 10 representing the most favorable conditions. We determined each city’s total score from the total of its individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their impact on the pickleball experience. Individual factor scores were then added together to give each city a final score from 0-50. Higher scores indicated cities are better for pickleball players. Read on to see what we found.

The Top 20 Best Cities for Pickleball Players

A map of the 20 best cities for pickleball in the U.S.

As is evident by the pickleball craze that is sweeping the nation, there are great hubs for the sport all across the country. You are especially in luck, however, if you are a pickleball player in the West. California hosts six of the best cities for pickleball, with one each in the surrounding states of Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

The most obvious perk of the region is the incredible weather, which would explain the strong scores in another important ranking factor—the number of outdoor pickleball courts per 100,000 residents. Because pickleball is played on retrofitted tennis courts, it’s easy to outfit existing infrastructure in public parks for more pickleball fun.

Branching out, Minneapolis, MN, ranks as the eighth best city for pickleball and sports the second highest number of outdoor courts (behind Salt Lake City) despite its infamously frigid winters. The fifth best city, St. Louis, MO, claimed the most pickleball clubs and communities which are important due to the inherently social spirit of the sport. Pickleball is just more fun with a partner!

The Top 20 Worst Cities for Pickleball Players

map of the 20 worst cities for pickleball in the U.S.

The worst cities for pickleball are much more concentrated on the map. The eastern half of the country, including the South, Northeast, and part of the Midwest, seems to have been picked last when it comes to playing pickleball.

Interestingly, Florida, which is often considered a great place to retire, is not such a great place for playing pickleball. It earned the number two and number 17 spots on the list of the worst cities to play the sport and barely eked onto the list of the best cities with Tampa ranking 20th. Despite its temperate climate and low precipitation, Florida is dogged by low numbers of indoor and outdoor pickleball courts.

Moving up the east coast, cities in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts also sit squarely in the cast of places that are not optimal for pickleball.

The following interactive chart features the full data set including all ranking factors for each city and their overall scores. Scroll right to see more.

 

Knowing where players should and should not expect the courts, community, and weather to support a lively pickleball scene, we wanted to find out where it actually matters. To put it another way, where are people actually interested in playing pickleball?

To find out, we pulled Google Trends search data for each of the 50 cities using the keyword “pickleball” and uncovered where people are searching for pickleball the most.

Interest in Pickleball

A map and ranking of the U.S. cities most interested in pickleball

Salt Lake City is the most interested in pickleball by a landslide, with a search interest score of 75 out of 100. And they’re in luck, because Salt Lake City is the fourth best city to play the sport. Similarly, cities like San Diego, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Raleigh, and others have high search interest and land somewhere within the 20 best cities to play pickleball.

We found the opposite to be true as well. Cities like Miami, New York, and Providence were neither good for playing pickleball or interested in the sport. We’re not sure which came first, the lack of interest or the lack of factors that encourage playing, but we see these cities catching up in the near future.

Whether you are already a pickleball pro or are considering your first foray into the sport, we hope this data study helped you get a handle on where you might put down roots for retirement. Yet, wherever you decide to retire, you’re sure to carve out a close-knit community of like-minded pickleball players. And while it’s an affordable game by nature, remember that we at Coventry are here to make your retirement dreams a reality, no matter what they are!

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