Boise used to excel in this list of best cities for recreation, but this year it plummeted

Boise has made so many “best of” lists lately that falling out of the top 10 feels more noteworthy than being included. So it came as a surprise on Tuesday when finance website WalletHub released its yearly ranking of Best & Worst Cities for Recreation and Boise not only dropped from one of the top spots but plummeted to its lowest ranking ever.

Last year, Statesman reporter Michael Deeds celebrated Boise’s No. 9 ranking, a comeback from the city’s spot at No. 13 in 2017. Now Boise has slid even farther from its former glory, ranking No. 19 in WalletHub’s most recent iteration of the report.

What gives?

Well, as Deeds pointed out last year, WalletHub weighs recreation a bit differently than many Idahoans might. The website looks at 42 metrics in four categories: entertainment and recreation facilities, costs, quality of parks and weather. So Boise’s plethora of outdoor options count for only 20% of its total rank.

Overall, Boise scored 48.42 points. The No. 1 city, San Diego, earned nearly 10 points more for a total of 58.27. Las Vegas (58.14); Orlando, Florida (58.13); Honolulu (56.71); Tampa, Florida (53.73); Atlanta (52.90); Cincinnati (52.20); Scottsdale, Arizona (51.96); Portland, Oregon (51.31); and Los Angeles (50.93) rounded out the top 10.

Boise actually gained ground in several categories this year, but so did the competition. The one loss that could’ve factored into Boise’s steep backslide? Rising costs. Here’s how Boise fared on each of WalletHub’s metrics.

Ranking Boise’s recreation

The entertainment and recreation facilities category of WalletHub’s report is worth 40% and comprises 29 individual metrics, including sports venues, bowling centers, movie theaters, food festivals, restaurants, swimming pools, coffee and tea shops, music venues and hiking trails (all per capita).

Last year, Boise ranked 46th out of the 100 largest cities in the country when it came to this category. This year, WalletHub boosted Boise to No. 42.

According to WalletHub’s individual rankings for each of those 29 metrics, Boise is pretty middle-of-the-pack on most facilities. Where we shine is — no surprise — the outdoors. Boise ranked No. 1 for hiking trails, No. 8 for bike rentals, No. 20 for fishing spots and No. 27 for walking trails. Boise also snagged the No. 21 spot for public beaches. Not bad for a landlocked state.

Boise’s recreation costs were also largely in the middle of the rankings. However, Boise is No. 17 in spending on parks and recreation, and our tennis court rentals and bowling costs are pretty pricey (Nos. 22 and 11 in the country, respectively). Last year, Boise was No. 2 overall for lowest recreation costs. This year, we slid to No. 6.

Our city improved when it came to quality of parks. In May, the Trust for Public Land rated Boise’s park access at No. 21 in the country. WalletHub looked at accessibility, playgrounds per capita and more. Boise earned bonus points for its presence on TripAdvisor’s list of Top 25 Parks and for acreage of parkland per 1,000 residents. All told, Boise ranked No. 57 for park quality, an improvement from last year’s No. 62 spot.

WalletHub used its previous ranking of Cities With the Best & Worst Weather to determine the final category. Boise was No. 26.

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