The Parklands

Louisville Ranks in Outside Magazines “Best Towns Ever”

The subhead in this month’s Outside Magazine article said, “What makes a Best Town Ever? Access to adventure, healthy eating options, bike lanes, and green spaces. And these places have it all.” And guess what? They’re talking about Louisville. 

This list is ordered by the number of votes readers gave each town in the magazine’s March Madness–style Best Towns Tournament—and the place that received the most votes was crowned Best Town Ever. But they didn’t leave it all up to readers.

They developed what they’re calling the Outside Score, in which they combined factors like number of outfitters, miles of trails, and number of bike shops—plus considerations like unemployment rates, median incomes, and an editors’-choice variable. The article goes on to explain “The resulting O-Score is intended to summarize just how livable a place is, even if that differs from how readers voted. O-Scores are assigned on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being paradise.”

With somewhat of an understanding of how the list was developed (so many “top” lists don’t event attempt to explain their methodology), I’m proud to share that our fair city came in at #8, with 47,271 total reader votes and an O-Score of 73.  We beat out towns such as Boulder, Charleston, and Nashville, and just fell short of perpetually hip towns like Asheville. 

Clearly all of the bicycling initiatives going on in the city helped us with our O-score, as well as all the wonderful park space we have (and are adding!) Our local food and beer scene was mentioned also, although only briefly. And of course we were excited about this part:

But what the population of 605,000 may be most proud of is Louisville’s future. “There are so many cool things in the works,” says Derek Fetko, a road and mountain biker. “The biggest is the Parklands of Floyds Fork,” a 4,000-acre park being developed right outside town. 

We’re thrilled to be just another reason this town has it going on. And we’re glad the rest of the country is starting to notice our efforts towards improving and sustaining quality of place in Louisville, ensuring a livable, thriving city for years to come. This type of national coverage validates the initiatives underway and backs up our mission here at 21st Century Parks

The addition of The Parklands system and trails will enhance the quality of life and help our community and economy grow in ways that are healthful, sustainable, and enjoyable. Reflecting Louisville’s remarkable reputation as a great place to live, this project will become a powerful vehicle for attracting and retaining individuals, families, and employers, contributing to a vibrant future for our community and our children.

Frederick Law Olmsted proved years ago that well-designed public parks form the heart of thriving neighborhoods and vibrant cities. Rooted in Louisville’s century-old legacy of parklands designed by Olmsted, the mission of 21st Century Parks reflects a passion for Louisville’s parks that includes a respect for both people and nature. We believes that parks as green infrastructure can provide livable communities now and for generations that follow 50-100 years from now.

So, if you ever find yourself wondering why the heck you live in Louisville, KY, refer to this Outside Magazine article, or better yet go check out some of the places mentioned (and so many more). Go Louisville, and as we like to say, “Come Outside and Play”!

To read the full Outside Magazine article, visit:

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About the Author

Picture of Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen has been the Director of Development at 21st Century Parks since April of 2015. In this role she oversees fundraising functions for The Parklands, including the annual fund/membership campaign, corporate sponsorships, supporting the Board of Directors, leading major fundraising events, and seeking grant and foundational support. It’s her goal to create multiple compelling opportunities for donors to support The Parklands, a donor-supported public park that does not receive tax dollar support on an annual basis but has four world-class parks free and open to the public 365 days a year.

Although fairly new to this role, Ellen is intimately familiar with The Parklands as she spent the previous 3 years as the Communications Manager in charge of public relations, social media, community outreach and marketing for the parks. Before joining 21st Century Parks she spent three years with Louisville-based advertising agency Doe-Anderson. Her background also includes marketing and account service roles at Anheuser-Busch InBev, PriceWeber advertising agency, and direct mail marketing at Traffic Builders, Inc. Ellen is a graduate of Marietta College where she studied advertising, public relations and marketing and played volleyball. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling with her two mutts and her husband Andrew.