We can safely say that Plano has the best parks in Texas!

Yet again, Plano blows all other Texas park systems out of the water — at least according to the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings for 2021. Plano is listed as the No. 1 park system in Texas, and No. 15 nationwide. 

TPL, a non-profit that works to ensure everyone lives within a 10-minute walk of a park, releases its ParkScore index annually to compare park systems across the 100 most populated cities in the U.S. And, according to its website, the ParkScore index is the “national gold-standard” for comparing park systems. 

Kelley Crimmins, public relations/community outreach specialist for Plano Parks and Recreation, said she credits the success of Plano’s park system to the Parks and Recreation Department’s history of leadership, who worked to create the expansive park system from scratch at the department’s founding.

“We have the robust system we have today because of this collective, continuous commitment to planning for Plano’s future,” Crimmins said. “We also thank the residents of Plano for their continued investment and support, which has been proven throughout past bond elections.”

Liberty Playground at Windhaven Meadows Park in Plano. Plano has the best park system in Texas! | Courtesy of Plano Municipal Center’s website

Score system

The rankings for best park system are based on five different categories — access, acreage, investment, amenities and equity. Points are calculated as an average of the city’s points for each category. Each city can earn a maximum ParkScore rating of 100 points for each category.

The access category is based on the portion of residents within a 10-minute walk of a park; the acreage category is based on the city’s median park size and percentage of area dedicated to parks; the investment category is based on park spending per resident; the amenities category is based on features like basketball hoops, playgrounds and dog parks; and the equity category is based on the distribution of parks and park acres according to race and income. 

Broken down, Plano’s 139 parks scored 67 points for access, 73 for acreage, 100 for investment, 45 for amenities and 58 for equity. And in comparison to the national average of 55%, 78% of Plano residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. However, Plano scores a bit below the national average of 15% at 10% for how much of its land is used for parks and recreation. 

When looking at park amenities for best park system, Plano is in the 94th percentile for playgrounds, with 4.6 playgrounds per 10,000 people. The city also scores in the 79th percentile for basketball hoops with 5.2 per 10,000 people. However, Plano is in the 39th percentile for dog parks, 47th percentile for bathrooms, 13th percentile for recreation and senior centers, and 21st percentile for splash pads.

The dog park at Windhaven Meadows Park in Plano. Plano has the best park system in Texas! Courtesy of the City of Plano’s website.

Not a new rank

But Plano’s ranking for best park system isn’t new, nor is it a surprise. D Magazine reported that Plano ranked No. 17 nationwide in 2020 and No. 15 in 2019. In comparison, the next highest Texas city was Austin, which came in at No. 45 nationwide in 2021. And Dallas was ranked No. 50 in 2021, No. 54 in 2020 and No. 52 in 2019. 

Crimmins said a lot of the credit for Plano’s continuous high ranking goes back to the Parks and Recreation Department’s former directors such as Bob Woodruff, and city leaders like Jack Carter and Tom Muehlenbeck. She said these men understood the land they needed to acquire for parks just before Plano’s residential boom in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Plano’s median park size, Crimmins said, is 13.8 acres — over double the national average. And the department doesn’t plan to stop now, as Crimmins said the department will continue to make renovations and construct new things for years to come. 

“For more than 50 years, the Plano Parks and Recreation Department has strived to deliver programs and services that go above and beyond to our community,” Crimmins said. “With 85 parks, nearly 100 miles of trail, and 4,300 acres of park land, the Department is committed to maintaining these parks, trails, and facilities so we can grow another 50+ years with Plano.”

Bailey Lewis

Bailey Lewis recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and served as The OU Daily's news editor and enterprise editor. Previously, she was a summer 2020 news intern at the Malheur Enterprise,...