City parks are more than pretty outdoor spaces — research shows they can also be critical to improving a community’s health. In fact, from the earliest days of their implementation, parks have been tools for boosting air quality, encouraging safe physical recreation, reducing disease and discouraging crime, according to the George Wright Forum. That’s why park design is so important. The way a park is set up and organized plays a crucial role in how much it is used and, therefore, what level of impact it can make.
How are some of America’s parks influential in city environments today? What are some examples of urban parks that are contributing to their communities’ overall physical well-being? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at a few of America’s healthiest cities and the parks that you’ll find in them.