Irvine’s renowned parks, which cover one-third of the city, have been ranked the No. 1 park system in California by the Trust for Public Land – and the No. 4 park system in America.
“We found that cities like Irvine, at the top of our rankings, are the healthiest places to live,” says Will Klein, TPL’s associate director of parks research. “Irvine’s rank reflects the city’s commitment to use parks as places to play, to connect with friends – and to promote health.”
TPL’s annual ParkScore index found that 94% of Irvine residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park – far beyond the national average of 76%. And it found that Irvine’s investment in parks, at $284 per resident, is nearly three times the national average.
These and other factors, like a citywide trail system, propelled Irvine’s rank above Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and New York.
“What I love about Irvine is that every neighborhood has its own park that brings people together.” – Orchard Hills resident Sandra Un
Master-planned for parks
Irvine is unique among cities in that it was master-planned with parks in mind.
“The Irvine Master Plan made parks and open space the first consideration in the planning process – before all other land-use considerations,” says Richard Roy, who helped design 12 Irvine villages as a landscape architect for Irvine Company.
In addition, Irvine’s parks are all interconnected by village paths and trails that lead to an open space preserve of 57,500 acres that Irvine Company has dedicated for public enjoyment.
Roy, who leads monthly walking tours of the 3.5-mile Jeffrey Open Space Trail, says residents are captivated by the beauty of the $30 million linear park the company developed and donated to the city.
“The response is always one of amazement at the meticulous and creative execution of every detail they see,” he says. “And it’s just one example of the city’s 280 parks.”
Visit IrvineCommunityConnection.com to register for the walking tour.
To your health
Irvine also is leading a national trend in which parks are used to promote good health. Throughout the city, you can find yoga, dance, fitness classes and other healthy activities at parks and their adjacent community centers.
“Irvine is doubling down on the idea that parks are good for health,” Klein says.
This year’s ParkScore includes research from “The Power of Parks to Promote Health,” based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It reports that residents of cities with high ParkScore rankings are 21% more likely to be physically active, enjoying better physical and mental health – thanks to park access.
“We feel healthy and happy whenever we go to the park,” says pharmacist Sandra Un, whose family enjoys Hideaway Park in Orchard Hills.
As her children enjoy the playground, she catches up with other moms who’ve become close friends that organize holiday events and dinners together.
“What I love about Irvine is that every neighborhood has its own park that brings people together,” she says. “Without this park, I don’t think we would’ve become such a tight-knit community.”