The reasons that draw Americans to their local parks demonstrate park and recreation agencies’ broad mission to be the centerpiece of healthy, thriving, connected-to-nature communities. Whether spending time with friends and family, improving their health or reconnecting with nature after a hectic week, the reasons people visit their local park and recreation facilities are as diverse as they are. 

In 2016, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) launched an annual survey that investigates how Americans engage with their local park and recreation agencies. Each year, the study examines the importance of public parks in the lives of Americans, including how parks compare to other local government services and offerings. Now in its third year, the 2018 Americans’ Engagement with Parks Report looks at how Americans interact with parks, the key reasons driving this interaction and the greatest challenges that prevent increased usage. Additionally, this year’s study addresses the level of interest in improving accessibility to high-quality park and recreation facilities, including the public’s support of local officials who advocate for parks and increased funding for them.

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Key Findings

  • Americans, on average, visit their local park and recreation facilities more than twice a month. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents report having visited a local park and/or recreation facility within a month of participating in the survey.
  • Three in four Americans live within a 10-minute walk of a local park or other recreational facility. Eighty-five percent of Americans support efforts such as the “10-Minute Walk Campaign,” whose mission is to ensure every person has access to a great park within a 10-minute walk from their home.
  • Eighty-five percent of Americans consider high-quality park and recreation amenities important factors when choosing a new place to live.
  • More than nine in 10 Americans agree that parks and recreation is an important local government service.
  • Seventy-six percent of Americans are more likely to vote for local politicians who make park and recreation funding a priority.
  • Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents indicate they want their local governments to increase park and recreation spending, especially if it helps ensure all Americans arewithin a 10-minute walk to a great park.


Infographic: Americans' Engagement with Parks and Recreation



Americans' Engagement with Parks Report - 2017

Similar to the 2018 report, the 2017 study probes the importance of public parks in Americans’ lives, including how parks rate against other service offerings of local governments. In addition, 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.


Americans' Engagement with Parks Report - 2016

The inaugural edition of this study found that seven in 10 Americans say they are more likely to vote for local politicians who make park and recreation funding a priority. Further, most Americans 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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