Parks and Recreation: A Key Determinant for Americans When Choosing a New Place to Live

Source: National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Findings published in 2017 NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey

Ashburn, Va. (Sept. 25, 2017) — Americans’ support for parks and recreation remains strong, according to a new report issued by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a network of 60,000 park and recreation advocates. Among the key findings in the 2017 NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey is that a vast majority of Americans seek high-quality park and recreation amenities when choosing a new place to live.

Park and recreation agencies offer a variety of community-based services that improve people’s physical and mental health, and provide opportunities for people to gather with family and friends and connect with nature. Furthermore, these agencies provide solutions to many of the ongoing challenges facing communities today — including the preservation of public lands and climate resiliency. To better understand Americans’ use of local park and recreation facilities and their support for these services, NRPA surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 18+. The survey found that:   

  • Americans, on average, visit their local park and recreation facilities almost twice a month. Nearly seven in 10 survey respondents report having visited a local park and/or recreation facility within a month of participating in the survey, including nearly half having done so within the previous seven days. Millennials and parents are more frequent park users.
  • Eighty-five percent of Americans consider high-quality park and recreation amenities as an important factor when they are choosing a new place to live.
  • More than nine in 10 Americans agree that parks and recreation is an important service their local governments deliver.
  • The reasons Americans visit their local park and recreation facilities are as diverse as they are: a place to be with family and friends, to be more physically active, to be closer to nature, to access quality, affordable child care and to learn a new skill or craft.
  • What keeps people from greater enjoyment of their local park and recreation facilities is a lack of time, concerns about safety at and walking to/from the park, and a lack of awareness of park locations/offerings.
  • Four in five Americans agree that NRPA’s Three Pillars — Conservation, Health and Wellness, and Social Equity — represent what they see as the priorities for their local park and recreation agency.
  • Ninety-five percent of Americans agree that it is important that their local government acts to protect the natural environment, including acquiring, constructing and maintaining local parks, trails and green spaces.
  • Eighty-seven percent of Americans support their local government and park and recreation agency in investing in critical infrastructure that would make their regions more resilient and would improve their community’s ability to withstand or recover quickly from natural disasters. 

“The public’s overwhelming support for parks and recreation is a testament to the impact our agencies are making on a local and national level,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. “Their work is increasingly important — especially in communities that are facing hardships because of natural disasters, climate change and other significant challenges.”

survey conducted earlier this year demonstrates the value of parks and recreation in building climate resilient communities through the implementation of green practices, such as recycling, that positively impact the environment. Among many other highlights, the survey found that 51 percent of agencies implement green infrastructure practices. Unlike traditional gray stormwater management, green stormwater infrastructure uses natural processes to filter and slow down the flow of water to protect and restore clean and healthy waterways. 

The Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey is an annual research series from NRPA that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks. The survey results provide park and recreation professionals, policymakers and other key stakeholders with insights on the importance local parks and recreation facilities play in the lives of all Americans. The NRPA Research Department will release new results from the Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey each fall.

To read NRPA’s Americans’ Engagement with Parks report, click here.     

To learn more about NRPA, visit  

About the National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


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