Special Report

The Most Visited Local Parks in the US

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Among the unfortunate impacts of the pandemic in 2020 were government restrictions on visiting local parks. The onerous mandate prevented urban dwellers from enjoying a bucolic escape from the concrete and steel environs of city living. 

While restrictions have generally eased since the early days of the pandemic, Americans were recently reminded of the ongoing public health crisis with the recent surge in cases and omicron variant. Just this week, organizers of a New Year’s Eve party planned at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles said there will be no in-person celebration. Instead, the event will be livestreamed.

Stil, this year, thanks in part to increasing numbers of vaccinations, many restrictions were lifted and people have returned to the parks, an encouraging sign that life was beginning to return to normal.

To identify the 37 most-visited local parks in the U.S., 24/7 Tempo reviewed and aggregated data from The Trust For Public Land. Parks were ranked by the number of annual visits.

Seven of the most visited local parks are in California, the most of any state. Among them are Griffith Park in Los Angeles, which boasts a mixture of natural wonders like Bronson Canyon as well as other attractions like the Los Angeles Zoo and the Griffith Observatory. Virginia has the second-most visited local parks on the list with three: Chesapeake City Park, First Landing State Park, and James River Park. (This is the most underrated national park.)

You’ll find some of the nation’s most famous local parks on the list: Golden Gate in San Francisco, Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, Boston Common, and Lincoln Park in Chicago. (This is the most visited state park in every state and U.S. territory.)

New York’s 843-acre Central Park, the nation’s first landscaped public park, also graces the most-visited parks list. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who won a landscape design contest in 1857. That year, the New York legislature authorized the city to buy more than 700 acres in the middle of Manhattan. The park opened in 1859, and by 1865, the park had 7 million annual visitors.

Click here to see the most visited local parks

37. Central Park
> Annual visitation: 1,000,000
> Location: Fremont, California


37. Overton Park
> Annual visitation: 1,000,000
> Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Source: Getty Images / Photodisc via Getty Images

37. Veterans Park
> Annual visitation: 1,000,000
> Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

37. Bayshore Boulevard Linear Park
> Annual visitation: 1,000,000
> Location: Tampa, Florida


Source: AndreaCopp / iStock via Getty Images

36. Woodward Park
> Annual visitation: 1,010,958
> Location: Fresno, California

35. Swope Park
> Annual visitation: 1,136,523
> Location: Kansas City, Missouri


Source: YoungkKwon / iStock via Getty Images

34. El Dorado Park
> Annual visitation: 1,158,171
> Location: Long Beach, California

Source: dosecreative / iStock via Getty Images

33. First Landing State Park
> Annual visitation: 1,161,668
> Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Source: Courtesy of Country Park via Yelp

32. Country/Jaycee Park
> Annual visitation: 1,178,916
> Location: Greensboro, North Carolina


Source: Courtesy of Country Park via Yelp

31. River Parks
> Annual visitation: 1,250,000
> Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

30. Balloon Fiesta Park
> Annual visitation: 1,300,000
> Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico


Source: Courtesy of Chesapeake City Park via Yelp

29. Chesapeake City Park
> Annual visitation: 1,500,000
> Location: Chesapeake, Virginia

28. Mecklenburg County Sportsplex
> Annual visitation: 1,527,988
> Location: Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

Source: Christa Boaz / iStock via Getty Images

27. Gray’s Lake Park
> Annual visitation: 1,750,000
> Location: Des Moines, Iowa


25. City Park
> Annual visitation: 2,000,000
> Location: Denver, Ohio

25. James River Park
> Annual visitation: 2,000,000
> Location: Richmond, Virginia


Source: rathyrye / E+ via Getty Images

24. Louisville Waterfront Park
> Annual visitation: 2,200,000
> Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Source: Courtesy of Schenley Plaza via facebook

23. Schenley Park & Plaza
> Annual visitation: 2,250,000
> Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

22. Boston Common
> Annual visitation: 2,500,000
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts


21. Belle Isle Park
> Annual visitation: 2,600,000
> Location: Detroit, Michigan

20. Julia Davis Park
> Annual visitation: 2,737,500
> Location: Boise, Idaho


Source: Javier_Art_Photography / iStock via Getty Images

18. Lake Eola
> Annual visitation: 3,000,000
> Location: Orlando, Florida

18. Riverfront Park
> Annual visitation: 3,000,000
> Location: Spokane, Washington

Source: Courtesy of Rocky River Reservation via Yelp

17. Rocky River Reservation
> Annual visitation: 3,145,203
> Location: Cleveland, Ohio


Source: halbergman / E+ via Getty Images

16. Washington Park
> Annual visitation: 3,200,000
> Location: Portland, Oregon

15. Como Regional Park
> Annual visitation: 3,800,000
> Location: St. Paul, Minnesota


Source: Marina Imasheva / iStock via Getty Images

14. Independence National Historic Park
> Annual visitation: 4,500,000
> Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Source: dszc / E+ via Getty Images

12. Griffith Park
> Annual visitation: 5,000,000
> Location: Los Angeles, California

12. Lakeside Park
> Annual visitation: 5,000,000
> Location: Oakland, California


Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

11. Garden of the Gods Park
> Annual visitation: 5,800,000
> Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Source: LUNAMARINA / iStock via Getty Images

10. Hermann Park
> Annual visitation: 6,000,000
> Location: Houston, Texas


Source: dszc / iStock via Getty Images

8. San Antonio Riverwalk
> Annual visitation: 7,000,000
> Location: San Antonio, Texas

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

8. Lincoln Memorial
> Annual visitation: 7,000,000
> Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Chain of Lakes Regional Park
> Annual visitation: 8,000,000
> Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota


Source: Art Wager / E+ via Getty Images

6. Forest Park
> Annual visitation: 10,000,000
> Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Source: edb3_16 / iStock via Getty Images

5. City Park
> Annual visitation: 12,000,000
> Location: New Orleans, Louisiana


Source: Vasileios Economou / E+ via Getty Images

4. Mission Bay Park
> Annual visitation: 18,000,000
> Location: San Diego, California

Source: IrisImages / iStock via Getty Images

3. Lincoln Park
> Annual visitation: 20,000,000
> Location: Chicago, Illinois

Source: Medioimages/Photodisc / Photodisc via Getty Images

2. Golden Gate Park
> Annual visitation: 24,000,000
> Location: San Francisco, California


Source: Ingus Kruklitis / iStock via Getty Images

1. Central Park
> Annual visitation: 42,000,000
> Location: New York, New York

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