The broad mission of park and recreation leaders to provide the centerpiece of healthy, thriving, connected-to-nature communities has never been more essential. Whether it’s spending time with friends and family, improving health or reconnecting with nature after a hectic week, the reasons people visit their local park and recreation facilities are as diverse as the individuals themselves.

In 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) launched an annual survey that investigates how people engage with their local park and recreation agencies. Each year, the study examines the importance of public parks in people’s lives, highlighting the essential nature of park and recreation agencies as a local government service.

The 2020 Engagement with Parks Report continues to demonstrate the essential value of local parks and recreation. It provides a unique look at the field during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and showcases the vital role that agencies and professionals serve in their communities.


Read the Report

Key Findings

  • People visit their local park and recreation facilities more than twice a month, on average, with 1 in 10 visiting at least weekly, if not daily.
  • Three in five people — or more than 190 million people — visited a local park, trail public open space or recreation facility during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic (mid-March through mid-June 2020).
  • Seventy-seven percent of U.S. adults considers high-quality park and recreation amenities important factors when choosing a new place to live.
  • More than 4 in 5 people agree that parks and recreation is an essential local government service.
  • Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults are more likely to vote for a local political leader who makes parks and recreation funding a priority.


Additional Resources


Engagement with Parks Report — 2019

The 2019 Engagement with Parks Report looks at how people interact with parks, the key reasons driving this interaction and the greatest challenges that prevent increased usage. Additionally, the study takes a closer look at people’s favorite outdoor activities, as well as their support of local governments expanding open space in their jurisdictions for the protection of natural resources in the community.



Engagement with Parks Report — 2018

Similar to the 2019 report, the 2018 study probes the importance of public parks in peoples’ lives, including how parks rate against other service offerings of local governments. In addition, the 2018 study addresses the level of interest in improving easy access to high-quality parks and recreation facilities, including the public’s support of local officials who advocate for parks and increased funding for them.



Engagement with Parks Report — 2017

The 2017 study took a special look at parks and recreation’s role in resiliency and their special responsibility to help their communities withstand and recover from natural disasters.


Engagement with Parks Report — 2016

The inaugural edition of this study found that seven in 10 U.S. adults say they are more likely to vote for local politicians who make park and recreation funding a priority. Further, most people back increased local government spending for park and recreation agencies with solid support for a nearly 30 percent increase in funding for local park and recreation agencies.


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