The reasons that draw people 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 people engage with their local park and recreation agencies. Each year, the study examines the importance of public parks in people's lives, including how parks compare to other local government services and offerings.

Coming soon: In September, NRPA will release the 2020 NRPA Engagement with Parks Report. This year’s report demonstrates the essential value of local parks and recreation. It provides a unique look at the field during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and showcases the vital role that agencies and professionals serve in their communities. Stay tuned to read more.

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.

Read the Report

Key Findings

  • People visit their local park and recreation facilities twice a month, on average, with one in 10 visiting weekly, if not daily.
  • Sixty-four percent of survey respondents indicate they visited a local park and/or recreation facility within a month of participating in the survey.
  • Eighty-five percent of the public considers high-quality park and recreation amenities important factors when choosing a new place to live.
  • Nine in 10 people agree that parks and recreation is an important local government service. 
  • Ninety-three percent of U.S. residents believe it is important for their local government to acquire, construct and maintain local parks, trails and green spaces near bodies of water to protect natural resources in their community.
  • Eighty-eight percent of people agree their local park and recreation agency does a good job of providing the local community with opportunities to interact with nature and the outdoors.


Infographic: Engagement with Parks and Recreation


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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