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Cities with the best parks

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Robert Linsdell // Flickr

Cities with the best parks

On July 21, 1853, the New York Legislature passed a law that reserved more than 750 acres of land on Manhattan Island for what would become Central Park. America's first major landscaped public recreation area, Central Park was designed to improve public health, foster a sense of community, and advance civil society. The massive success of what is still one of New York City's most iconic landmarks spawned one of the greatest progressive ambitions of 19th-century America: the urban park movement.  

Your local city park is among your community's most valuable assets—and no matter where you live, you've got choices. There are nearly 65,000 acres of urban parks in Jacksonville, Florida. Residents of Wichita, Kansas, enjoy more than 100,000 acres of urban parks. Anchorage, Alaska, boasts nearly 1 million acres. With all those options, which cities can say they maintain the very best city parks?

Stacker ranked 50 cities with the best parks, in descending order, using data from the Trust for Public Land ParkScore system, which is determined by four equally weighted characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, investment, amenities, and access. The Trust assessed the park systems of the top 100 most populous cities in the U.S., focusing specifically on land owned by regional, state, and federal agencies, including public school grounds and greenways that function as parks.

Read on to find which city near you can claim one of the country's most impressive city park systems. If you’d like to dive deeper into the report, visit ParkScore for an in-depth analysis of what went into determining each characteristic.

ALSO: Most popular national parks

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Pietro // Wikicommons

#50. Miami, FL

Park score: 48.1
Park land: 1,500 acres
Park land as % of city area: 6.5%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.9
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.6

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Joe Mabel // Wikicommons

#49. Dallas, TX

Park score: 48.9
Park land: 27,038 acres
Park land as % of city area: 12.5%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Robert Linsdell // Flickr

#48. Honolulu, HI

Park score: 49.3
Park land: 73,011 acres
Park land as % of city area: 19.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.6

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Wximagery // Wikicommons

#47. Colorado Springs, CO

Park score: 49.9
Park land: 10,984 acres
Park land as % of city area: 9.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.7
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.3

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Michael Rivera // Wikicommons

#46. Orlando, FL

Park score: 49.9
Park land: 2,947 acres
Park land as % of city area: 5.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.1
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.5

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Joy Schoenberger // Wikicommons

#45. Norfolk, VA

Park score: 50.3
Park land: 1,781 acres
Park land as % of city area: 5.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 4.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 6.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 2

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Dru Bloomfield // Flickr

#44. Scottsdale, AZ

Park score: 53.1
Park land: 28,817 acres
Park land as % of city area: 24.6%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.8

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Scott Ehardt // Wikicommons

#43. Atlanta, GA

Park score: 53.2
Park land: 5,002 acres
Park land as % of city area: 5.9%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.9
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.5

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Larry Moore // Wikicommons

#42. Austin, TX

Park score: 53.4
Park land: 19,171 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Virginia State Parks // Flickr

#41. Chesapeake, VA

Park score: 54
Park land: 56,258 acres
Park land as % of city area: 26%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.1
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1

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Asaavedra32 // Wikicommons

#40. Albuquerque, NM

Park score: 55.3
Park land: 26,974 acres
Park land as % of city area: 23.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.1

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Heditor6 // Wikicommons

#39. Tampa, FL

Park score: 56.7
Park land: 5,267 acres
Park land as % of city area: 7.5%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 3.5
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.2
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.8

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Oleg Alexandrov // Wikicommons

#38. Oakland, CA

Park score: 57.4
Park land: 3,865 acres
Park land as % of city area: 11.6%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 3.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.8
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.2

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Tim Evanson // Flickr

#37. Cleveland, OH

Park score: 57.6
Park land: 3,002 acres
Park land as % of city area: 6.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.5
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.1

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An Errant Knight // Wikicommons

#36. Anchorage, AK

Park score: 58.3
Park land: 914,138 acres
Park land as % of city area: 84.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.8
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.3

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Tomas Del Coro // Flickr

#35. Las Vegas, NV

Park score: 58.6
Park land: 16,700 acres
Park land as % of city area: 19.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.9
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.8

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Radiofan // Wikicommons

#34. Raleigh, NC

Park score: 58.6
Park land: 9,937 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.9%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.7
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.6

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Ammodramus // Wikicommons

#33. Omaha, NE

Park score: 58.8
Park land: 9,385 acres
Park land as % of city area: 12%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4.3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.7

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Rick Storms Photography // Wikicommons

#32. Fremont, MI

Park score: 59.2
Park land: 18,444 acres
Park land as % of city area: 37.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.6
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.9
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.5

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Palbert01 // Wikicommons

#31. Kansas City, KS

Park score: 59.3
Park land: 17,774 acres
Park land as % of city area: 9.1%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.4

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Smallbones // Wikicommons

#30. Philadelphia, PA

Park score: 60
Park land: 10,886 acres
Park land as % of city area: 13.1%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 2.1

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Patrick R // Wikicommons

#29. Boise, ID

Park score: 60.6
Park land: 4,193 acres
Park land as % of city area: 8.7%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 6.7
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1

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Nicolas Henderson // Flickr

#28. Virginia Beach, VA

Park score: 61.5
Park land: 24,940 acres
Park land as % of city area: 15.7%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.6
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.3

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Spur // Wikicommons

#27. San Jose, CA

Park score: 61.6
Park land: 16,162 acres
Park land as % of city area: 14.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1

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Jeffrey Beall // Wikicommons

#26. Denver, CO

Park score: 61.9
Park land: 6,238 acres
Park land as % of city area: 8.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.8

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Infrogmation of New Orleans // Wikicommons

#25. New Orleans, LA

Park score: 63.3
Park land: 27,775 acres
Park land as % of city area: 25.8%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.7

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Ammodramus // Wikicommons

#24. Lincoln, NE

Park score: 63.3
Park land: 3,665 acres
Park land as % of city area: 6.8%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Lee Paxton // Wikicommons

#23. Pittsburgh, PA

Park score: 63.8
Park land: 3,683 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.8
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.7

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Sirrebal // Wikicommons

#22. Sacramento, CA

Park score: 64
Park land: 4,959 acres
Park land as % of city area: 8%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.2
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1

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Martinho // Wikicommons

#21. Long Beach, CA

Park score: 64.1
Park land: 3,125 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.1%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.1
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.1

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Jeffrey Beall // Wikicommons

#20. Aurora, CO

Park score: 64.5
Park land: 10,541 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.7%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.2
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.2

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Michael Barera // Wikicommons

#19. Henderson, NV

Park score: 65.1
Park land: 9,173 acres
Park land as % of city area: 13.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 5.2
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Michael Barera // Wikicommons

#18. Plano, TX

Park score: 66
Park land: 4,322 acres
Park land as % of city area: 9.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.3

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Buster8079 // Wikicommons

#17. Milwaukee, WI

Park score: 66.7
Park land: 6,160 acres
Park land as % of city area: 10.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.5
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.9

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Port of San Diego // Flickr

#16. San Diego, CA

Park score: 67
Park land: 48,059 acres
Park land as % of city area: 23.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.1
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1

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John O'Neill // Wikicommons

#15. St. Petersburg, FL

Park score: 67.1
Park land: 6,159 acres
Park land as % of city area: 15.6%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.2

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LittleT889 // Wikicommons

#14. St. Louis, MO

Park score: 69.2
Park land: 3,783 acres
Park land as % of city area: 9.7%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.6
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Rick Harris // Wikicommons

#13. Boston, MA

Park score: 69.3
Park land: 5,089 acres
Park land as % of city area: 17.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.2
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.9

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Richard Hurd // Wikicommons

#12. Madison, WI

Park score: 70.3
Park land: 6,431 acres
Park land as % of city area: 13.5%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.1

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Joe Mabel // Wikicommons

#11. Seattle, WA

Park score: 73
Park land: 6,591 acres
Park land as % of city area: 12.5%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 2
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.2
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.8

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Patel Rahul // Wikicommons

#10. Irvine, CA

Park score: 73.4
Park land: 11,149 acres
Park land as % of city area: 26.4%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.4
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.5

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Ed Yourdon // Wikicommons

#9. New York City, NY

Park score: 74.8
Park land: 40,016 acres
Park land as % of city area: 21.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.6
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.2
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.1

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Alanscottwalker // Wikicommons

#8. Chicago, IL

Park score: 76.1
Park land: 13,547 acres
Park land as % of city area: 9.9%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 0.9
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.8

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Wholtone // Wikicommons

#7. Cincinnati, OH

Park score: 78.2
Park land: 6,895 acres
Park land as % of city area: 14.2%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 5
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.5

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Ian Poellet // Wikicommons

#6. Portland, OR

Park score: 78.3
Park land: 14,505 acres
Park land as % of city area: 17.8%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 5.2
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.1
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.6

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Dan the Dinosaur // Wikicommons

#5. San Francisco, CA

Park score: 79.6
Park land: 5,888 acres
Park land as % of city area: 19.6%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 3.7
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2.6
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 0.8

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Payton Chung // Wikicommons

#4. Arlington, VA

Park score: 81.6
Park land: 1,767 acres
Park land as % of city area: 11.1%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 3.5
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4.3
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.4

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tim1965 // Wikicommons

#3. Washington, D.C.

Park score: 81.9
Park land: 8,528 acres
Park land as % of city area: 21.9%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.8
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 1.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 2.3

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Greg Gjerdingen // Flickr

#2. St. Paul, MN

Park score: 82.4
Park land: 4,937 acres
Park land as % of city area: 15.3%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.3
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 3.7
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 1.7

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Anthony Arrigo // Flickr

#1. Minneapolis, MN

Park score: 84.2
Park land: 5,070 acres
Park land as % of city area: 14.9%
Dog parks per 100,000 residents: 1.7
Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 4
Recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents: 2.4

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