Many people opt for city living to gain access to better job opportunities, easier commute options, and the availability of cultural and leisure events. But urban living doesn't mean residents should have to compromise on living environments. For those city folks who can't afford an urban home on a prime lot, these cities offer park land for all the frisbee-throwing, chess-playing, and kite-flying they can handle.  

Tree cover and public parks have various health benefits, outside of being a place where people can unwind, walk their dog, or ride a bike. Parks not only contribute to better physical health, but to stress reduction and mental health as well. A 2010 study in BMC Public Health found that walking or running in green spaces instead of "synthetic environments" (like a gym) decreased anger, fatigue, and feelings of depression.  Public facilities like fountains, gardens, and benches, are already available and have been taken care of by the government. In dense cities especially, having access to a public park is a gift--like having a backyard that needs no maintenance, and barely costs you anything (well, outside of taxes). So, which cities have the most public park areas available, relative to the number of total households?  Where should builders take action to build for those who want a green lifestyle?

Using data from the 2015 City Park Facts Report by The Trust for Public Land, and the 2014 American Community Survey, we've identified America's top 10 cities with the most public park acreage per 1,000 households.  By "cities," we mean municipalities, ie we would refer to New York City, rather than the Greater New York area (New York City didn't make our top 10 list due to its high density). In addition, city land area is adjusted to exclude unpopulated airport and railyard acreage. "Parks" include city, county, metro, state and federal parkland within the city limits. We've excluded low-density cities in our ranking, like Anchorage, Alaska, to level the playing field.

Travis Wise via Flickr Creative Common
Travis Wise via Flickr Creative Common
  • 1.     Fremont, Calif.

    Adjusted City Area: 49,516 acres

  • Parkland: 25,109 acres
  • Number of households: 73,007
  • Parkland per 1,000 households: 343.9 acres

Just 40 miles southeast  of San Francisco, more than half of total land in the city of Fremont  consists of public parks. Fremont has kept its "Tree City U.S.A." title for 19 years, since their initial nomination by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters in 1996.