New Survey Reveals Americans’ Top Outdoor Recreation Activities

(July 2, 2019)

Americans’ favorite outdoor recreation activities include gathering with family and friends, and going to the pool

Ashburn, Va. (July 2, 2019) — The vast majority (91 percent) of Americans will participate in an outdoor recreation activity hosted by their local park and recreation agency this summer, according to a recent poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Americans’ top three outdoor recreation activities include:

  • Gathering with family and friends at the park for games, picnics or barbecues (58 percent)
  • Going to the pool (48 percent)
  • Walking or hiking along a local trail (45 percent)

Other popular activities include attending community social events (38 percent), attending performing arts events (32 percent), camping (30 percent), playing in team sports or leagues (12 percent), playing racquet sports (11 percent) and running/cycling races (10 percent). Each of these offerings are available to all members of the community at little or no cost.

“Park and recreation agencies across the country proudly offer their communities a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of professional development, research and technology. “These activities provide people of all ages and abilities with opportunities to improve health, enjoy nature or simply have fun with family and friends while enjoying outdoor recreation.”

Compared to Americans overall, parents are most likely to gather with friends and family at the park (68 percent vs. 58 percent), go to the pool (66 percent vs. 48 percent) and go camping (42 percent vs. 30 percent). However, millennials are particularly active outdoors compared to Americans overall with significantly more millennials naming gathering with family and friends at the park (62 percent), going to the pool (61 percent) and walking or hiking along trails (52 percent) as their favorite outdoor recreational activities.

Nearly every local park and recreation agency provides some kind of outdoor recreation activities, including picnic areas. Fifty-two percent of agencies operate pools and 78 percent provide and maintain trails. Learn more about other programs and activities here.

This poll is part of NRPA’s Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public’s opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit   

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit   


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit