Pickleball Paradise: 5 Top Resorts for Playing America’s Fastest Growing Sport
December 1, 2022
If dink, divorce alley, and volley llama are in your lexicon, chances are you’re hopelessly smitten with pickleball.
You and more than 4 million other Americans. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the quirky mishmash of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton has been the fastest growing sport in the U.S. for two years running.
Accessible and easy to learn, pickleball has everyone from 7-year-olds to grandmothers to Leonardo DiCaprio hitting the courts. It’s similar to doubles tennis, but played on a smaller court with a lower net. Unlike tennis, there is less sprinting involved and you use a lightweight paddle and plastic ball much like a Wiffle ball.
To cater to the trend, there’s now a themed restaurant chain called Chicken N Pickle, stylish lines of pickleball gear from the likes of Recess, and a Major League Pickleball team owned by LeBron James. There’s even a grassroots movement to take pickleball to the Olympics.
Not surprisingly, resorts across North America are fully embracing the sport, too. Below, we’ve gathered some of the best.
Whether you’ve been rallying for years or have never picked up a paddle, the programs and facilities at these properties will leave any pickler tickled pink.
Fair warning: It’s easy to get hooked and nicknames are a must. Just know that Pickleball McNasty is already taken.
Bring on the dink at The Broadmoor, a luxe Rocky Mountains getaway where famous guests have included John F. Kennedy, Prince Harry, and Neil Armstrong to name a few. While there are four pickleball courts onsite, the one that will score you the most bragging rights sits at 9,200 feet above sea level. Perched on top of Cheyenne Mountain at Cloud Camp (a seven-room lodge open May through October), the impressive court gives players 360-degree views of Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs.
In winter, the action moves to courts inside a heated bubble at a lower elevation. Come summer, the resort hosts comprehensive camps, including a culinary offering that pairs the sport with pasta-making classes. You can also participate in daily pickleball clinics and a weekly round robin with a pickleball pro to up your game.
If you have any energy left after all that, explore hiking trails in the foothills of the Rockies, take a falconry lesson, and ride the cog train up Pikes Peak for a high-altitude donut. Wind down with made-from-scratch Italian fare at the resort’s Ristorante Del Lago.
People from around the world flock to Rancho La Puerta, a 4,000-acre Baja California wellness resort, for weeklong retreats led by some of the world’s foremost pickleball pros. Six top-of-the-line courts serve as settings for endless games and extensive hands-on instruction.
Off court, pickleball-related fitness classes help boost skills—and there’s plenty of other stuff to do as well, with the resort's cooking classes, 40 miles of trails around Mount Kuchamaa, meditation sessions, and so on. Dine on plant-based cuisine from the 6-acre organic farm, and get a deep-tissue massage to prep your muscles for the next day’s pickleballing.
Hawaii’s year-round summer weather means you can play outdoors no matter what the calendar says, and there’s nothing like hearing the legendary surf of Oahu’s North Shore rolling in during a pickleball game. An added bonus at Turtle Bay Resort: During whale season, you can step off the court and onto the beach to spot humpbacks breaching in the distance.
Sign up for round robins and tournaments throughout the year. Starting December 6, “Drinks & Dinks” is offered on Tuesdays. Meet up with other enthusiasts to play a round and enjoy music from a local DJ and drinks from a full bar—which probably won’t improve your game, but hey, you’re in paradise (free to play; equipment rental is $10).
Post-pickleball sesh, make your way to the new adults-only pool for a front-row seat to watch surfers carve up the waves. Grab a bite at Alaia Restaurant for dishes incorporating locally grown produce, or get the lay of the land from above by booking a tour with Paradise Helicopters, which has a helipad onsite for supplying bird’s-eye views of the island’s scenic valleys, beaches, and waterfalls.
Tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova have graced the tennis courts at La Quinta. Now another net-centric sport is becoming increasingly prominent here. With eight sunken tournament-style courts, international pickleball tourneys, and expert instructors certified by the IPTPA (that’s the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association), it’s easy to hone your lobs and perfect your drop shots at this iconic property in the Palm Springs area.
But with the Santa Rosa Mountains as your backdrop, don’t be surprised if the scenery draws your eye away from the ball. Before retreating to your hacienda-style villa, play a game of croquet, take a dip in one of 41 different pools on site, and grab a bite at Adobe Grill, where you can choose from more than 100 tequilas.
The Tryall Club on Jamaica’s north coast has its own “pickleball concierge” to help curate your game experience. This staffer, who surely has one of the hospitality industry’s most unique job titles, will have equipment (paddles, balls, even court-ready clothing) delivered to the door of your posh Caribbean villa. The concierge will also arrange private lessons for you and your fellow pickleballers. Post-game, an in-villa chef preps jerk chicken and smoothies.
Later, try your hand at golf or tennis (two other sports the Tryall takes very seriously), relax in the infinity pool, or take a stroll amid 2,200 picture-perfect acres encompassing rolling hills, cliffs, a private shoreline, and a beach club.