When it comes to parks, Dallas-Fort Worth isn't playing around. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land’s 2023 ParkScore rankings rated Plano at No. 16 nationally and No. 1 in Texas for the best parks system among the country’s 100 most populated cities. Dallas soared to new heights on the list.
The annual ParkScore report rates 100 of the largest American cities' park systems on five metrics: park access, equity, acreage, investment, and amenities.
Plano hung on to its No. 1 spot in Texas for the third year in a row, but did fall one place from last year's ranking of No. 15 nationally.
According to the report, Plano stood out because:
- 80 percent of Plano residents live within a 10-minute walk to one of its parks, which is 3 percent higher than last year.
- Plano spends the most money on its park system out of any Dallas-Fort Worth area city, at $196 per person.
- The city's median park size is nearly 14 acres, which is more than twice the national ParkScore average of 5.4 acres, so Plano residents have plenty of space to play.
Also notable in this year's ParkScore rankings, Dallas jumped ahead 10 spots from last year, landing No. 43 in 2023. The report lauds the city for putting a more direct focus on its park systems through increased investment and improved park amenities, such as access to dog parks and basketball hoops. Dallas currently dedicates $124 per person for its park system, which is a $15 increase from the previous year, the report says.
In a press release, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson boasted about the city and its work to create "innovative green spaces at an unprecedented pace" and put forth a lofty goal.
"Parks are critical infrastructure in a modern city, and now is the time to take to the next level our efforts to make Dallas greener and greater for all," he said in a statement. "As the single biggest champion of Dallas’ park system, I am committed to ensuring Dallas becomes the city with the highest level of park access in Texas."
Garland was the only other Dallas-Fort Worth city to improve in the ranking, moving up from No. 91 in 2022 to No. 87 this year. Garland spends $106 per person on its system, where 63 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk to any of its parks.
Arlington's ParkScore rank fell the most out of the remaining Dallas-Fort Worth cities after it reduced park spending by $10 year-over-year to $113 per person, giving the city a six-place drop into No. 74.
Irving and Fort Worth also dropped in this year's report by one and two places each, putting them at No. 88 and No. 99, respectively.
Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, Minnesota remained the top two best park systems in the nation, with Minneapolis, Minnesota taking No. 3. Arlington, Virginia, which was No. 3 last year, fell to No. 5 in 2023.
Trust for Public Land additionally published its new research, "The Power of Parks to Promote Health
," that discovered high-ranking ParkScore cities are healthier places to live. Overall, the research found that Texas cities are "among the national leaders" working toward improving community health, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area was specifically recognized for its focus and dedication.
"Dallas partners with local community organizations to provide health screenings at parks, Plano offers free guided nature walks, and the Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department works with health providers as part of the Blue Zones Project to promote walking and healthy social activity in public parks," the report said.