Special Report

Major US Cities With the Best Access to Parks

Recreational opportunities, including access to park space, are an important quality-of-life measure. In fact, the COVID-19 epidemic has made them more important than ever. People were deprived of entertainment and exercise options due to lockdowns, capacity limits, and simple caution, and many have been reluctant to return to places such as gyms and movie theaters even now that many restrictions have been lifted. 

Visiting city parks can be a particularly agreeable alternative to other activities – and often an easily accessible one. But just as with other civic amenities, parks are more accessible in some places than others.

To identify the major U.S. cities where people have the best access to park space, 24/7 Tempo reviewed The Trust for Public Land’s 2021 ParkServe dataset to determine the percentage of city residents living within a 10-minute walk from a park, the number of parks per 10,000 residents, total park acreage, and total city population. Population per acre of livable land area was also obtained from ParkServe. 

San Francisco and Boston are clearly the best cities for would-be park-goers. The two are tied for first place on the list resulting from our review, with 100% of their populations living within a 10-minute walk of a park. 

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that both cities are widely regarded as desirable, albeit expensive, places to live; they both have scenic locations, robust economies, populations of comparable size, and strong civic-mindedness. Boston has 5.4 parks per 10,000 residents and around 4,800 acres of parks. San Francisco has fewer parks per capita, but more park acreage. (These are the most visited parks in America’s largest cities.)

New York City; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Arlington, Virginia are tied for the No. 3 spot, with 99% of their populations living within a 10-minute walk of a park. New York City is particularly well-endowed with parkland, with a whopping 40,000 acres of it, compared with fewer than 5,000 acres in St. Paul and fewer than 1,800 in Arlington. (Here are America’s largest city parks.)

Click here to see the major US cities with the best access to parks

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.