Parks and Recreation Is Essential, Say U.S. Adults

Findings published in the 2020 NRPA Engagement with Parks Report

Ashburn, Va., Sept. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A large majority of U.S. adults (82 percent) believe that parks and recreation is essential, according to a newly released report from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The report shows the public’s affinity toward their local parks and recreation is strong, with U.S. residents visiting local park and recreation facilities more than twice a month on average.

The 2020 Engagement with Parks Report, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+, also found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, parks and recreation has been a vital respite for people. Three in five U.S. residents — more than 190 million people — visited a park, trail, public open space or other recreation facility at least once during the first three months of the pandemic, and over half of U.S. residents maintained or increased park, trail and open space usage during those same months.

Other key highlights from the report include:

  • Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults are more likely to vote for local political leaders who make park and recreation funding a priority
  • Seventy-seven percent of U.S. adults consider having a high-quality park, playground, public open space or recreation center nearby an important factor in deciding where they want to live  

“People value the essential work performed by park and recreation professionals and their agencies,” said Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of NRPA. “The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that parks and recreation is fundamental to supporting the physical and mental health of people nationwide. For these reasons, people expect their local political leaders to provide the financial support needed to ensure these indispensable services continue to be available and are expanded to ensure all people have fair and just access to them.”

People also believe strongly that equitable access to parks and recreation is vital to communities. According to a recent poll conducted by NRPA, the vast majority (87 percent) of U.S. adults agree it’s important for people to have fair and just access to high-quality park and recreation programs, services and facilities that create healthy, resilient and economically vibrant communities.

The Engagement with Parks Report is an annual research series from NRPA that tracks the general public’s interaction with and support for public parks. The findings 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 people. The NRPA Research Department publishes the Engagement with Parks Report each fall.

To read NRPA’s 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 (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


Infographic of key data from the 2020 Engagement with Parks Report.

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