The 10 American Cities With The Best Parks

Portland, OregonView from a Portland park

Minneapolis may be nicknamed the “City of Lakes,” but it could also be called the city of parks for its incredible amount of green spaces.The Trust for Public land recently released their 2013 ParkScore Index, which ranks the cities with the best and worst parks.

Minneapolis took the top spot on their list, replacing San Francisco (last year’s winner). Bustling New York City came in right behind at number two.

The Trust for Public Land looked at three categories to compile this list: park access, park size, and services and investment, which each held equal weight in importance.

They generated a ParkScore index out of 100, and then converted those scores to a scale of zero to five “park benches.” A low score of one park bench means that the city’s park system needs major improvement, while five park benches connotes an outstanding park system.

10. Seattle: 4.0 Park Benches

The city that spends upward of $260 per resident inched in at number 10 for this year's list. But with just over 53,000 residents, the city is also much smaller than its competitors. Median park size is average in Seattle, and park land takes up just over 10 per cent of the city.

9. San Diego: 4.0 Park Benches

San Diego's park system consists of close to a quarter of the total city's area. Median park size is also high, at almost seven acres. Servicing the city's 1.3 million residents are the popular Mission Bay Park and the large Mission Trail.

8. Virginia Beach: 4.0 Park Benches

Virginia Beach is one of the new cities to join the index this year. Median park size is relatively low, but each park acre serves an average of 11 people. The city of nearly half-a-million also has an average of five playgrounds for every 10,000 residents, which is highest amongst the top 10 chosen.

7. Portland: 4.0 Park Benches

In the city of under 600,000, park land makes up just over 15 per cent of Portland's space. The Oregon city has a low density of people per park acre and a high median park size of almost five acres.

6. Washington, D.C.: 4.0 Park Benches

Park space accounts for nearly a fifth of the land in the nation's capital. But this space comes fragmented, with median park size less than an acre. People per park acre is low, with 76 people served by each of Washington's nearly 8,000 acres.

5. San Francisco (tie): 4.0 Park Benches

In the city of over 800,000 residents, park space accounts for almost 18 per cent of San Francisco. The upkeep for this area comes at no small price: according to the Public Land Trust, San Francisco Recreation and Park's Department spends $140 per resident on the park system. This money arguably goes to good use, as nearly all of the residents are within a 10-minute walk to a park.

3. Sacramento (tie) : 4.0 Park Benches

Sacramento's park system spans 5,000 acres. While this accounts for only eight per cent of the city's area, a median park size of almost six acres allowed the city to still score high in the rankings. Sacramento is another kid friendly city, with four playgrounds for every 10,000 residents.

3. Boston (tie) : 4.0 Park Benches

Boston Common, the most frequented park in the city, is also the oldest, with a birth date of roughly 1634. Roughly 97 per cent of the population is within half a mile of one of the park spaces that makes up just over 15 per cent of the city's area. A little known but high statistic to note: the park system has almost four playgrounds for every 10,000 residents.

2. New York: 4.5 Park Benches

New York City boasts over 38,000 square acres of park space, which accounts for almost 20% of the city area. While individual park size errs on the small end of the spectrum, with a median size of about 1 acre, 96 per cent of residents are within a 10-minute walk of them. Gateway National Recreation Area is the largest park of the city and consists of just over 7,000 acres, which on its own is more than many cities on the list had in total park area.

1. Minneapolis: 5.0 Park Benches

With just under 400,000 residents, but more than 5,000 acres of park space, the northwestern city was awarded the top ranking. At 6.5 acres, median park size in Minneapolis is generous. 90-four per cent of residents live within a 10-minute walk to these spaces. Additional points were awarded for the city's high spending per resident, which is just over $200.

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