First-rate recreation

Plano takes off with new No. 1 ranking for best parks in Texas

Plano takes off with new No. 1 ranking for best parks in Texas

Plano park, hot air balloon
The Plano Balloon Festival will be back in September. Facebook/Plano Parks

Plano may be the home of dozens of corporate headquarters, but it’s also the park headquarters of Texas.

The Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore index, released May 27, ranks Plano’s park system as the 15th best in the U.S. and the best in Texas. The index rates the park systems of the country’s 100 largest cities based on five factors: access, investment, amenities, acreage, and equity.

On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest score, here’s how Plano fared in each category:

  • Access, 67
  • Investment, 100
  • Amenities, 45
  • Acreage, 73
  • Equity, 58

Seventy-eight percent of Plano residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The City of Plano operates 85 parks, 98 miles of trails, five recreation centers, and nine public pools.

2017 report from The Land for Public Trust indicates the value of Plano’s park system extends well beyond recreation.

“Plano’s park and recreation system enhances property values, attracts visitors to the city, provides recreational opportunities for residents, improves human health, and boosts economic development. These amenities support local jobs, increase spending at local businesses, save residents money, and generate local tax revenue,” the report says.

Washington, D.C., tops the ParkScore index. Here are the rankings for other Dallas-Fort Worth communities featured in the index:

  • Dallas, No. 50
  • Arlington, No. 78
  • Fort Worth, No. 89
  • Garland, No. 93
  • Irving, No. 97

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin lands at No. 45, San Antonio at No. 60, and Houston at No. 77.

“Parks are always essential to our communities, and they are even more valuable in times of crisis,” Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land, says in a news release. “During this extraordinary pandemic year, people relied on close-to-home parks, trails, and open spaces to exercise and connect with nature more than ever. Parks also served as makeshift community centers for emergency services like food distribution, COVID testing, and vaccine super-sites.”