Irvine’s Parks and Recreation Rated in America’s Top 10


According to the financial advice website NerdWallet, Irvine is the 9th best city in America for recreation and an active lifestyle.

That’s great – but I think we should have been rated even higher.

The website asked “Which cities are best for recreation and living an active lifestyle? If you value exercise and personal health, then finding a city that can offer you a variety of recreational activities should be high on your list of priorities when it comes to choosing a place to live. Cities with lots of parkland, playgrounds and recreation centers can provide you with plenty of options to maintain your particular level of physical activity.”

They then evaluated 95 American cities for recreational activities based on these questions:

  • Does the city have plenty of recreational options for those with varying skills and interests?  We assessed the volume of available options by reporting the number of recreational facilities per 100,000 residents.  Recreational facilities include ball diamonds, skateboard parks, basketball hoops, ice-skating rinks, golf courses, swimming pools and tennis courts.  Only public facilities were included.
  • Does the city have a lot of green space?  We included the acres of parkland as a percentage of city area.
  • Does the city have recreation options for those of all ages?  We included the number of recreation and senior centers per 20,000 residents.
  • Does the city have playgrounds?  We included the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents to assess whether there were kid-friendly recreation options in the city.

Based on these criteria, their top cities were (1) Minneapolis, MN, (2) Madison, WI, (3) St. Paul, MN, (4) Cincinnati, OH, (5) Norfolk, VA, (6) Baton Rouge, LA, (7) Anchorage, AK, (8) Washington, D.C., (9) Irvine, CA, and (10) Pittsburgh, PA.

Here’s what they had that to say about Irvine:

“Irvine offers residents access to trails in the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Bommer Canyon, Turtle Rock Nature Center and acres of open space. You can find aquatics centers, athletic fields, neighborhood and community parks, skate parks and tennis courts. The city has adult sports leagues for basketball, softball and soccer, and many youth sports options. The city provides an array of summer camps for children and UC Irvine’s Campus Recreation offers Anteater Recreation Summer Camps and weekend activities for local kids. Your dog can get some exercise on the nearly three acres of field at Central Bark.”

That’s all true – but, as I said, I think we should have been rated higher.

Unlike the other cities on the list – especially Minneapolis, Madison, St. Paul, and Anchorage – our parks and recreational facilities are open, accessible, and unfrozen all year. You can enjoy our parks and play most sports year round, and never have to shovel a path through the ice and snow.  And we don’t have many rain days, either.

Plus, they didn’t even mention the Orange County Great Park’s seven-acre North Lawn recreation area and the South Lawn’s soon-to-open four tournament-quality soccer fields, four full-size basketball courts, and new jogging and exercise trail.

Or Irvine’s Incredible Edible Park a 7.5 acre community garden, where volunteers  grow beans, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, oranges, potatoes and squash that are donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County to help feed thousands of hungry families.

So, thank you, NerdWallet, for rating Irvine among the 10 very best cities in America for parks and recreational activities.

But in my opinion, we’re number one.