U.S. Adults Say Parks and Recreation Is Essential

(September 14, 2021)

Findings published in the 2021 NRPA Engagement With Parks Report

A large majority of U.S. adults (87 percent) agree that parks and recreation is an important service provided by their local government, according to a newly released report from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The report shows the public’s affinity toward their local parks and recreation is strong, with 260 million U.S. residents having visited a local park or recreation facility at least once during the past year.

The 2021 Engagement With Parks Report, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, also found that equitable access to high-quality park and recreation opportunities is a vital factor in a superior quality of life for all. Nearly nine in 10 people agree that it is important to fund local park and recreation agencies to ensure every member of the community has equitable access to amenities, infrastructure and programming.

Other key highlights from the report include:

  • More than seven in 10 U.S. residents have at least one local park, playground, open space or recreation center within walking distance of their homes.
  • Four in five U.S. adults seek high-quality parks and recreation when choosing a place to live.

“Parks and recreation is an essential part of every person’s life,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “This report’s findings highlight how it is vital that park and recreation agencies and their professionals have sufficient and sustainable funding so that they can provide a wide array of offerings and services that benefit all community members.”

Parks and recreation also have served as a vital respite and source of activity throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the report, seven in 10 people increased or maintained park, trail and public space usage during the pandemic.

The Engagement With Parks Report is an annual research series from NRPA that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks. The findings provide park and recreation professionals, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights on the importance local parks and recreation facilities play in the lives of all people. The NRPA Research Department publishes the Engagement With Parks Report each fall.

To read NRPA’s Engagement With Parks Report, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit www.nrpa.org.


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.