Apparently Phoenix does not rank so well among cities in terms of parks. I find these surveys next to worthless, since they tend to reflect the biases and preferences of the authors. If the authors really like public pools, your city better have a lot of those or they will be ranked low.
For those considering the Phoenix area, here are three dimensions on which our parks are fabulous:
- We have large wilderness areas and whole mountains right in the middle of the city. South Mountain park, Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak park) and Camelback Mountain are all right in the middle of town. The offer some of the best urban hiking and climbing I have ever encountered. I can't think of a city I have been in with anything similar -- Boulder Mountain park is kind of similar (and better) but it is adjacent to the town, not right in the middle.
- If you or your kids play soccer or baseball, we have some of the best sports fields options in the country. Soccer is a huge game hear for kids and adults, and we have lots of options, including a number of indoor locations for the hot summer time. Our baseball fields are unparalleled. I don't like the fact we have built so many spring training locations for professional teams with public money, but the one upside is that there are a lot of beautiful baseball fields available any month except March. My son has been playing on MLB fields since he was in 8th grade.
- We have tons and tons of golf. I am not a golfer, but we have over 200 courses in the county. This means competition. Which means reasonable rates. And they are all open to the public (I can only think of 3-4 courses in the area that are country club courses for members only). I can walk to two different, quality courses that have great rates, particularly after 1PM and during the summer time.
One other dimension related to recreation. I know places like Boulder and Portlandia have the reputation of being biking cities, but Phoenix is a pretty big biking town. No, we don't bike to work much due to the climate, but wide flat streets and large areas without much traffic and nice vistas (e.g. the Paradise Valley area) make it a popular biking area.