The only U.S. city with better parks than D.C. is Minneapolis, Minnesota, according to new rankings by an organization that advocates for parks and land protection.
The Trust for Public Land also ranked Arlington, Virginia, parks as the fourth-best in the U.S.’ 100 most populous cities.
The organization’s score index is based on acreage, investments, amenities and access.
“Ninety-eight percent of D.C. residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park, and 99% of Arlington residents,” said Alexandra Hiple, program manager for the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land. “That’s pretty significant.”
Both localities do well with investments that take into consideration money spent by agencies, nonprofits and conservancies, monetized volunteer hours, and in D.C. money spent by the National Park Service.
“Both cities overall are really investing in their parks. D.C. actually spends $307 per resident and Arlington spends $301 per resident; that’s a lot,” Hiple said. “They’re in our top spenders.”
Each location does well with amenities — such as basketball hoops, playgrounds, dog parks, recreation and senior centers, restrooms and splash pads — that will become available for use again when pandemic-related restrictions are loosened.
While parks in Arlington are larger, D.C. benefits from an abundance of National Parks and has more park land overall.
Putting the importance of parks into perspective, Hiple said there are myriad benefits. It’s a place for people to go exercise, gather with friends and play sports; parks can have trees and green space that can help clear the air and cool cities and capture storm water.
“A great park system is really important to overall quality of life in a city,” Hiple said. “There are really great health and social and environmental benefits all around.”