Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2019

Survey Reveals Top Outdoor Recreation Activities

By Chandler Garland

After a long and cold winter, many are excited to get outdoors to enjoy the summer sun—and most turn to their local park and recreation centers for outdoor activities. In fact, according to a recent poll by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), around 91% of Americans are projected to participate in an outdoor recreation activity hosted by their local park and recreation agency this summer. The survey also captures data on Americans' favorite activities to do at their local parks.

More than half of all Americans surveyed (58%) said that their favorite activity was simply gathering with family and friends at their local park for games, picnics and barbecues. In second and third place were going to the pool (48%) and hiking along local trails (45%).

Other popular activities include: attending community social events (38%), attending performing arts events (32%), camping (30%), playing in team sports or leagues (12%), playing racquet sports (11%), and running/cycling races (10%).

"Park and recreation agencies across the country proudly offer their communities a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities," said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of professional development, research and technology. "These activities provide people of all ages and abilities with opportunities to improve health, enjoy nature or simply have fun with family and friends while enjoying outdoor recreation."

And the best part is that parks and recreation agencies are able to offer all these activities to local communities at little or no cost.

Compared to Americans overall, parents are most likely to gather with friends and family at the park (68% vs. 58%), go to the pool (66% vs. 48%) and go camping (42% vs. 30%). The millennial generation was shown to be particularly active outdoors compared to other generations, with significantly more millennials marking that gathering with family and friends at the park (62%), going to the pool (61%), and walking or hiking along trails (52%) as their favorite outdoor recreational activities.

Nearly every local park and recreation agency provides an outdoor recreation activity, including picnic areas. Some 52% of agencies operate pools, and 78% provide and maintain trails.

This poll is part of NRPA's Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public's opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit

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