Houston Ranks Poorly In National Report On Parks And Recreation

The research indicates entertainment and recreation opportunities are affordable but there aren’t as many as in other cities.

The McGovern Centennial Gardens at Houston's Hermann Park.
The McGovern Centennial Gardens is one of the latest additions to Houston’s Hermann Park.

July is the national park and recreation month and there is a new report by on this year’s best and worst cities for recreation in the United States.

The report ranks Houston in the 88th position, out of 100 cities.

Jill Gonzalez, the report’s researcher, says Houston has affordability on its side when it comes to leisure opportunities, but there aren’t a lot of options and that drives our city down in the ranking.

“Looking at everything, from the number of boat tours and things like that, the number of baseball diamonds, basketball hoops, public swimming pools, public golf courses … Really not a lot of them to go around within city limits for Houston,” Gonzalez says.

Geoffrey Godbey, an emeritus professor with Pennsylvania State University who has done academic research on public recreation, says the downside of the report is that it puts all the emphasis on the amount of entertainment and leisure opportunities, and not on their quality.

That is why he says it is difficult to tell whether Houston got a fair ranking.

At the same time, Godbey notes that recreation hasn’t been the main priority when it comes to developing Texas cities. “Houston was built around oil pretty obviously and many cities in Texas with a few exceptions, like Austin and San Antonio, don’t necessarily have the strongest recreation, park infrastructure.”

At number 34, El Paso is the Texas city with the highest position, while San Antonio ranked the lowest in the state at number 98.


Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Digital News Producer

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz is originally from Madrid (Spain). He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all platforms of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree...

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