10 Best U.S. Cities for Pickleball Lovers, New Data Shows

Fancy yourself a picklehead? These are the places you might love living.

What may have seemed like a passing exercise fad during the pandemic has become the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for the third consecutive year. According to the 2023 APP Pickleball Participation Report, 14 percent of Americans (36.5 million people) played pickleball at least once the year prior. If you fall into this group, it's likely that you live near a pickleball court—but not all cities have caught on to the trend.

A new ranking from Lawn Love breaks down the 10 best U.S. cities for pickleball lovers. Analyzing the 200 largest cities in the country, they looked at 11 different metrics, including access to pickleball courts and tournaments, the size of the pickleball community, and local interest in the sport. They then came up with an overall score, an access rank, a community rank, and a popularity rank. Curious to see if your city made the list? Keep reading.

RELATED: 5 Tips to Become a Pickleball Pro This Year.

10 Best U.S. Cities for Pickleball Lovers

10. Cincinnati

city skyline of Cincinnati, Ohio at dusk
iStock

Overall score: 35.43

Access rank: 7

Community rank: 18

Popularity rank: 32

Lawn Love reports that Cincinnati has the second-highest number of pickleball courts (224) out of all 200 cities, which may have to do with the various organizations dedicated to the sport in the Ohio metropolis.

The Cincinnati Pickleball Club claims to be the fastest-growing pickleball club in the Midwest, while the nonprofit Pickleball at Sawyer Point offers lessons, leagues, clinics, and tournaments.

9. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona, USA downtown skyline with Sentinel Peak at dusk. (Mountaintop "A" for "Arizona")
Shutterstock

Overall score: 35.91

Access rank: 5

Community rank: 21

Popularity rank: 41

Tucson is another city with a nonprofit devoted to the sport. Tucson Area Pickleball (TAP) hosts tournaments, socials, and clinics, as well as advocates for expanded court usage and court improvements.

Lawn Love's data shows that Tucson is in a four-way tie (along with Cincinnati, Miami, and Surprise, Arizona) for having the third-most pickleball clubs. It also ranks fourth for having the most dedicated pickleball courts.

8. Charlotte, North Carolina

skyline of downtown charlotte north carolina
Shutterstock

Overall score: 37.08

Access rank: 8

Community rank: 15

Popularity rank: 18

In this North Carolina city, pickleball is as much a social activity as it is a workout. In May, Charlotte hosted the state's largest pickleball tournament ever, where the top 300 professionals in the world were in attendance, reported WSOC-TV.

Perhaps more unique is the recent opening of Rally, which bills itself as "indoor and outdoor pickleball courts anchored by craft cocktail bars, elevated cuisine, and a specialty coffee program."

More serious players can purchase a membership with Pickleball Charlotte.

RELATED: The 10 NFL Teams With the Most Diehard Fans, New Data Says.

7. Mesa, Arizona

cityscape photo of downtown Mesa, Arizona
iStock

Overall score: 38.36

Access rank: 2

Community rank: 49

Popularity rank: 52

The second city in Arizona to make the list, Mesa has the most courts dedicated just to pickleball (166), according to Lawn Love. It also hosts the most pickleball tournaments, including a Major League Pickleball (MLP) event.

Non-professionals can take advantage of the Mesa Tennis & Pickleball Center, as well as the Sunland Village East (SVE) Pickleball Club.

6. St. Louis

cityscape photo of St. Louis, Missouri at dusk
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Overall score: 40.28

Access rank: 4

Community rank: 14

Popularity rank: 34

St. Louis' pickleball community made headlines in April when it was announced that the Paddle Up Pickleball Club, a facility with nine indoor courts, would be taking over a shuttered Bed Bath & Beyond store.

In addition, Lawn Love says the Missouri city has the second-highest number of pickleball facilities (52) and the third-highest number of courts (216).

RELATED: The 12 Best U.S. Cities for Outdoor Adventures.

5. Orlando, Florida

lake eola park in orlando florida
Shutterstock

Overall score: 41.59

Access rank: 6

Community rank: 5

Popularity rank: 19

Turns out, Orlando has a lot more to offer than Disney World. They also have the second-largest number of dedicated pickleball courts, which includes the indoor courts at the Clear One Sports Centre and outdoor courts at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus.

It should be noted that another Florida locale was too small to make the list but is unofficially dubbed "the pickleball capital of the world." Naples County has invested more than $4 million in pickleball facilities, reports Lawn Love. "Paradise Coast also hosts the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships, the largest pickleball event in the world, with nearly 34,000 attendees in 2022," they add.

4. Chicago

Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USA
iStock

Overall score: 44.04

Access rank: 9

Community rank: 3

Popularity rank: 5

Lawn Love puts Chicago in fifth place for "most Google searches for pickleball-related terms in past 12 months." The city also has the fourth-most pickleball facilities.

Chicagoans love pickleball so much that Pickle Haus, a joint venture between a real estate developer and a tennis club operator, is planning to open five "pickleball-themed sports and entertainment center[s]" in the area, reported NBC 5 Chicago.

According to the news outlet, the first Pickle Haus will have 12 indoor courts, five of which "will have courtside cabanas for private gatherings and food service." There will also be a nearly 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio for lawn games, a restaurant/bar, and a 1,500-square-foot event space.

3. Las Vegas

cityscape photo of the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada at dusk
Shutterstock

Overall score: 44.48

Access rank: 3

Community rank: 16

Popularity rank: 17

It's not all casinos and nightlife in Sin City. Las Vegas also has the third-highest number of dedicated pickleball courts, Lawn Love reports.

It might also be the only city where you can play pickleball on a rooftop. As part of its 70,000-square-foot pool deck, The Plaza hotel and casino has 12 permanent pickleball courts and one championship court, where they host the Las Vegas Pickleball Open.

For those who'd rather stay on the ground level, the city recently approved a $12 million grant to construct a 30-court pickleball facility, according to ABC News affiliate KTNV.

For more sports content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

2. Austin, Texas

austin texas skyline
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock

Overall score: 44.59

Access rank: 12

Community rank: 2

Popularity rank: 9

As a state, Texas didn't fair so well on Lawn Love's ranking. The cities of Laredo and Pasadena both landed on the list of the 10 worst cities for pickleball lovers, coming in at numbers two and six, respectively. Laredo is also tied for having the fewest pickleball facilities of any city, while El Paso is tied for having the fewest pickleball clubs. Laredo, Pasadena, and Brownsville are all tied for having the fewest pickleball-related Google searches.

But over in Austin, things couldn't be more different. The soon-to-open Austin Pickle Ranch will be, as they say, "a sanctuary for outdoor fun with one of the largest pickleball facilities in the state of Texas with tasty bites, cool drinks, but most importantly, Pickleball."

And according to Eater Austin, there are nine other bars/restaurants that also have pickleball courts, including a barbecue brisket spot, a biergarten, and an all-inclusive resort.

1. New York

Aerial view of Central Park's Wollman Ice Skating rink converted into 14 pickleball courts
rblfmr / Shutterstock

Overall score: 76.65

Access rank: 1

Community rank: 1

Popularity rank: 1

Surprised to see the concrete jungle rank number one for such a low-key outdoor sport? According to Lawn Love, New York City swept the competition, taking first place in every single category.

"The city boasts the most pickleball facilities, 75, and courts, 279," they explain. "NYC also offers the most free-to-play courts, increasing public access to the game. Otherwise, court reservation costs can add up, especially with prices like $80-$120 per hour in Central Park."

And speaking of Central Park, it may be pricey, but getting to play pickleball in one of the most iconic locations in the world is pretty incredible. In April, the city opened 14 pickleball courts in Wollman Rink, which functions as an ice-skating rink in the winter, making it the "largest pickleball installation in the Northeast," reported NBC 4 New York.

Why has pickleball become so popular?

people playing pickleball
bhpix / Shutterstock

"With unique rules and a smaller court size than tennis, pickleball is a lower-impact sport—which makes it more appealing to individuals of a wider age range," says Jonathan Howe, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Sport and Recreation Management at Temple University, as part of the report.

"Another factor to consider is the cost. While not fully accessible to all, the sport is cheaper than many recreational sports requiring club memberships. A paddle is likely the most expensive necessity, ranging from $75 to $200," he adds.

Lisa Farley, EdD, associate professor in the College of Education at Butler University, points out in the report that pickleball can be played both indoors and outdoors, "on dedicated pickleball courts, or re-purposed badminton, tennis, or basketball courts," so there are more options to find a space. "You can play doubles or singles—this makes pickleball great for all ages and abilities," she adds.

"With so many celebrities and athletes publicly showing their support, too, pickleball is getting more and more attention," Rachel Simonwriter, editor, writing teacher, and author of Pickleball for All, tells Best Life.

LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes have all invested millions of dollars in MLP to expand the sport and create new teams. And according to Vanity Fair, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, the Kardashians, Owen Wilson, and Larry David are all huge fans of the sport.

How to find a pickleball court near you.

pickleball paddles and ball on court
glenrichardphoto / Shutterstock

Since the sport has exploded in popularity, there are now websites and apps dedicated to mapping pickleball courts. Farley recommends PicklePlay, Pickleball+, and Places2Play.

She adds that many communities have pickleball clubs "that have benefits to finding courts and competition," and that most tennis clubs now offer pickleball.

But it's not just the sheer number of courts.

"In my opinion, a great pickleball facility doesn't just have high-quality courts, but acts as a social space for its players, whether that's by offering a restaurant, bar service, other sports, or even simply a meeting area for players to mingle," says Simon. "Pickleball is a very social sport, and a great facility should reflect this."

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more
Filed Under