DC area scores high in ranking of best cities for parks

Just in time to make the most of the outdoors, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land on Wednesday released its annual ParkScore index, which ranks cities based on their park system — and Washington really hit it out of the … well, park.

According to the index — based on park access, size, investment and amenities — D.C. took top honors, beating out Saint Paul, Minnesota (No. 2) and previous champion Minneapolis (No. 3).

Arlington, Virginia, took the No. 4 spot.

D.C. was crowned the champ because 98% of Washingtonians live within a 10-minute walk to a park, and 21% of the city is reserved specifically for parks.

The average size of a D.C. park (1.2 acres) was much smaller than Saint Paul’s (3.2 acres), but improvements to amenities helped solidify a win.

As for Arlington, it matched D.C. for access and did better with amenities, but fell behind on park acreage, with 11% of the city reserved for parks.

“D.C. is truly a city of parks that serve as hubs of activity and beauty for neighborhoods and provide substantial social, economic, and health benefits to our residents,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a release.

“We’ve invested more than $200 million to ensure all residents have access to playgrounds, nature trails, and other public parks that have made D.C.’s park system the envy of cities across the nation.”

Rounding out the top 10:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Saint Paul, Minnesota
  3. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  4. Arlington, Virginia
  5. Portland, Oregon
  6. Irvine, California
  7. San Francisco, California
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. New York, New York
  10. Chicago, Illinois

According to the index, 72% of people in the 100 largest U.S. cities live within a 10-minute walk of a park, which is up from 70% last year.

“Mayors and city park directors across the United States recognize that quality, close-to-home parks are essential to communities,” Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land, said in a news release.

“Parks are proven to improve physical and mental health and get children and adults to put down their phones and enjoy the outdoors.”

There are 23,727 parks in the 100 largest U.S. cities.

Get the full list and more at the Trust for Public Land website.

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