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On the Upswing: Pickleball Vacations

Resorts and trip organizers add the fast-growing sport to their offerings 

spinner image pickleball courts at turtle bay resort on the island of oahu in hawaii
Pickleball fans can play on vacation at the Turtle Bay Resort on the island of Oahu.
Turtle Bay Resort

We can now add pickleball to popular sports-centered vacation getaway themes such as golfingskiing and scuba diving

The racket game invented in 1965 has been the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. these past two years, now standing at close to 9 million players, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. So it’s no surprise that the tourism industry is getting in on the action.

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All-inclusive resorts, from Beaches in the Turks and Caicos Islands to the historic Broadmoor in Colorado, have added pickleball programs to their activities. Travel outfitters such as Road Scholar will book your pickleball-centric trip, and individual professional players turned trip leaders are setting up destination visits for picklers, novice and pro. 

There is no official data on how much pickleball-related travel has increased, but Ernie Medina Jr., USA Pickleball board member and ambassador, thinks it’s exponential growth. As a frequent traveler himself (he’s on a quest to play in a tournament in all 50 states), he has seen how hotels and resorts are adding courts and instructors, sponsoring tournaments and marketing their pickleball availability to bring in new guests.  

AARP is a sponsor of the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) Tour, which travels the country, and the association is the title partner of the AARP Champions Division (50+) and AARP Masters Division (60+).

Medina, a doctor of public health and an assistant professor at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California, says pickleball – played at home or away – can greatly improve public health. “When you look at physical activity from a public health intervention standpoint, you’re looking for something that is easy to learn, easy to do, that you could do anywhere. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s social and it still gets the heart rate up,” he says. “Pickleball checks off all the boxes.” Below are ideas for fun getaways for pickleball enthusiasts.

Pickleball resorts 

Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, a wellness retreat, is investing in pickleball. While pickleball lessons and open play have been offered for years, the resort has scheduled nine full “Pickleball Specialty Weeks" in 2024 with top experts to teach. Tired picklers may find an array of other fitness classes, from yoga and Pilates to hydro-fit and circuit-training, plus miles of trails for mountain foothill hiking.  (Note: In early December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] issued a health advisory about an outbreak of tick-borne Rocky Mountain spotted fever among people who have recently traveled to Tecate. Check the U.S. State Department travel advisory website for more information.) 

Let’s Play Pickleball!

Become a part of the country’s fastest growing sport. Learn the rules, tips for playing and ways to win. Plus, how to warm up, what to wear and where to play. 

Read more about the joy of pickleball

Beaches on Providenciales in Turks and Caicos is just one of the travel franchise’s resorts in the Caribbean. It may be best known for its azure waters and white sand seaside, but it added a pickleball instructor and eight permanent pickleball courts in recent years, and can turn eight tennis courts into pickleball play, too. The family-friendly resort has multiple other activities to keep everyone happy, including a water park.    

Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku, Hawaii, on Oahu’s North Shore, is famous for its fantastic surfing, but this resort has a lot of outdoor activities, including horseback riding and golf. Now, however, it touts six dedicated pickleball courts for practice, lessons, plus round-robin tournaments and other tournaments throughout the year. 

spinner image guests playing pickleball at turtle bay resort in oahu hawaii
Guests can reserve one of the new pickleball courts at the Turtle Bay Resort.
Turtle Bay Resort

The Broadmoor, a stately resort hotel nestled into the Rocky Mountain foothills, has added three pickleball courts (and four certified instructors) to its long list of activities such as ziplining, fly fishing and rock climbing. 

Organized trips for pickleball 

Road Scholar, a nonprofit educational tour company, now offers pickleball getaways in the same way it offers biking or multi-adventure trips. Among them for 2024 is a six-day learn-and-play getaway at Glen Sutton Lodge in Quebec, Canada. 

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Pickleball Getaways, which has been running trips since 2019, offers weeklong journeys to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, Costa Rica, and other international destinations. The daily agendas include two to three hours of pickleball skills, drills and play, along with guided tours. 

Pickleball Trips is taking players to Japan, Belize and Montana, among other exciting places in 2024. The group coordinates all accommodations, pickleball play, transportation and tours.  

spinner image people playing pickleball on wollman rink in central park new york city
Pickleball courts took over Wollman Rink in Central Park in 2023.
Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

Pickleball destinations  

Pickleball courts are popping up in small towns across the country including South Haven, Michigan, and big cities like New York City, which turned Central Park’s ice rink, Wollman Rink NYC, into 14 courts for play from early April through early October. 

Check Pickleheads.com to find a court in any city around the world; you may find courts in senior centers, recreation centers, church gymnasiums, YMCAs and local parks.   

Here are two states in which you can’t miss the trend.

Arizona: Pickleball Kingdom, a warehouse of courts in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, has 15 indoor courts – much needed in the Arizona heat – and a variety of membership options. 

Separately, a new nationwide family-friendly chain called Chicken N Pickle recently opened in Glendale, north of Phoenix, offering food and games such as cornhole, bocce and, of course, pickleball. 

Also, Surprise, Arizona, is the home of USA Pickleball, the governing body, so this is definitely a pickleball-friendly state. 

Texas: This state loves its pickleball. The 2023 Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships were played in Farmers Branch in November, breaking records for spectators at 50,000. 

Pickleball Kingdom (as mentioned above) has its eye on Texas towns too: New facilities are planned for Plano, Lewisville, Keller, College Station, Dallas, Irving and Fort Worth. 

And Chicken N Pickle is established in San Antonio with plans for more cities (Allen, Webster) in 2024. 

Plus, there is Austin Pickle Ranch featuring eight courts on top of a parking garage in downtown, not far from the Texas Capitol building.   

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