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St. Petersburg ranks No. 7 on list of ‘Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts’

Tampa (one of the six Florida cities included in the study) came in at No. 20.
A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from just north of the North Shore Aquatic Complex. The view is looking south toward Albert Whitted Airport.
A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from just north of the North Shore Aquatic Complex. The view is looking south toward Albert Whitted Airport. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times (2016) ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020

Its number of campgrounds and nature parks, outdoor recreation economy and air quality recently helped earn St. Petersburg a place near the top of a list of best cities for those who enjoy outdoor recreation.

SmartAsset, a financial technology company that provides personal finance advice online, ranked St. Petersburg as the seventh-best city (out of 96 studied) for outdoor enthusiasts to live and work.

Seattle was ranked first, followed by Madison, Wisconsin; and San Francisco. Orlando was No. 14, Tampa No. 20.

“St. Petersburg benefits from the fact that Florida ranks within the top 25 of the study for two other state-level metrics," wrote Ben Geier, a financial writer for SmartAsset, "nature parks and campgrounds per 100,000 residents as well as state and national park coverage.”

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The company looked at 96 cities, including six in Florida. In addition to St. Petersburg, the study considered Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Hialeah.

It analyzed housing costs off of income, five-year change in median household income, the employment rate in July 2020, percentage of commuters who walk or bike to work, nature parks and campgrounds per 100,000 residents, air pollution, percentage of the city that is parkland, state outdoor recreation economy and state and national park coverage.

According to the study, St. Petersburg is fourth-best in terms of a low average of daily air pollution.

“Getting a literal breath of fresh air is an integral part of enjoying the great outdoors, especially amid so much quarantine time indoors,” Geier wrote.

In addition, “the city saw a 33.84 percent jump in median household income over the past five years, the 23rd-highest increase we saw out of all 96 cities in the study,” according to Geier.

St. Petersburg also did well in the state outdoor recreation economy metric, accounting for 4.3 percent of Florida’s total revenue stemming from outdoor recreation businesses (like fishing and RV’ing) — second only to Honolulu (5.4) — public relations associate Casey Luneva said.

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The study was inspired by data from polling and consumer insights company CivicScience that showed that 43 percent of Americans 13 and older said they’d be committed to doing more outdoor activities like hiking, visiting parks and fishing as a result of coronavirus social distancing advisories.

SmartAsset’s top 10

1. Seattle, Washington

2. Madison, Wisconsin

3. San Francisco, California

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

5. Reno, Navada

6. Boise, Idaho

7. St. Petersburg, Florida

8. Portland, Oregon

9. Denver, Colorado

10. Anchorage, Alaska

How Florida cities ranked

7. St. Petersburg

14. Orlando

20. Tampa

24. Jacksonville

49. Miami

72. Hialeah

Have an outdoor adventure we should try? Curious about the ins and outs of fishing seasons in Florida? Know a cool business or owner to profile? Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.