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Freeway vs. Parkway: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
A freeway is a high-capacity road designed for fast traffic with no tolls and controlled access, while a parkway is a scenic, landscaped road often found in parks or natural settings, sometimes with traffic and vehicle restrictions.

Key Differences

Freeways are designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, emphasizing efficiency and connectivity, often within urban or interurban areas. While, parkways are designed for scenic or leisurely drives, often through parks or natural areas, with aesthetic and recreational purposes in mind.
Freeways have controlled access, no intersections or traffic signals, and usually accommodate all types of vehicles. However, parkways may have restrictions on types of vehicles, like commercial trucks, and sometimes include lower speed limits and traffic calming measures.
Most freeways are toll-free and funded by public sources. Parkways, depending on their location and management, may have tolls or fees for maintenance and preservation of the surrounding landscape.
Freeways are typically surrounded by urban development or open landscapes for fast travel. Whereas, parkways are characterized by their landscaped surroundings, often including trees, flowers, and designed to blend with natural environments.
Freeways often represent modern transportation and urban development. Parkways, on the other hand, may have historical significance, preserving the natural and cultural heritage of an area.

Comparison Chart


High-speed, efficient travel
Scenic, leisurely drives

Vehicle Access

No restrictions, controlled access
May restrict certain vehicles


Usually toll-free
May include tolls or fees


Urban or open landscapes
Landscaped, natural settings


Modern transportation, urban development
Natural and historical preservation

Freeway and Parkway Definitions


A freeway is a road designed for high-speed traffic.
The freeway connects the city to the airport.


Cultural Significancearkways often have historical or cultural importance.
The historic parkway is a favorite among local tourists.


It has controlled entry and exit points.
The new freeway bypass has limited access ramps.


Scenic Route parkway is a scenic road, often through parks or natural areas.
The parkway winds through the national park.


Freeways often facilitate urban and regional connectivity.
The freeway system improves daily commutes in the city.


Recreational Drivet's designed for leisurely, recreational drives.
They enjoyed a Sunday drive along the parkway.


Most freeways are toll-free.
The freeway offers a quick, toll-free route downtown.


Vehicle Restrictionsome parkways restrict commercial or heavy vehicles.
Commercial trucks are not allowed on the parkway.


Freeways are designed for efficient vehicular travel.
The freeway reduces travel time between the cities.


A broad landscaped highway, often divided by a planted median strip.


See expressway.


(dated) A path, carriage-way, or road through a park or a landscaped right of way.


A highway without tolls.


(US) A scenic freeway.


(In parts of Canada, the U.S. and Australia) A highway with grade-separated crossings (rather than level crossings) and designed (and only permitted) for high-speed motor-traffic running in two directions on one separate carriageway each


(US) A divided highway with a landscaped median.


A toll-free highway.


(Chicago) A tree lawn.


A broad highway designed for high-speed traffic


A railway station built on the edge of a town, typically with a large car park to function as a park and ride interchange.


A wide scenic road planted with trees.


A wide scenic road planted with trees;
The riverside drive offers many exciting scenic views


Landscaped Surroundingsarkways are characterized by their landscaped environments.
The parkway is lined with blooming flowers in spring.


Do parkways have vehicle restrictions?

Yes, parkways often restrict commercial and heavy vehicles.

Are freeways toll-free?

Most freeways are toll-free, though there are exceptions.

What is a parkway?

A parkway is a scenic road, often in natural settings, for leisurely drives.

What is the main purpose of a freeway?

The main purpose of a freeway is to facilitate fast, efficient travel.

Can all vehicles use freeways?

Freeways generally accommodate all types of vehicles.

Are there tolls on parkways?

Some parkways may have tolls, especially in managed parks or areas.

Do freeways have entry and exit ramps?

Yes, freeways have controlled entry and exit ramps.

What is a freeway?

A freeway is a high-capacity road designed for fast, efficient traffic.

Can you bike on a parkway?

Some parkways have bike lanes or adjacent paths for cycling.

Why are parkways designed?

Parkways are designed for scenic beauty and leisurely driving experiences.

What makes a road a parkway?

A road's scenic setting and design for leisurely travel make it a parkway.

Is it common to see billboards on freeways?

Billboards are common on many freeways.

Are parkways good for sightseeing?

Yes, parkways are ideal for sightseeing due to their scenic routes.

What is a freeway interchange?

A freeway interchange is a road structure for smooth transitions between freeways.

What is the cultural significance of parkways?

Parkways often preserve the natural and cultural heritage of an area.

How fast can you drive on a freeway?

Freeway speed limits vary but are generally higher for efficient travel.

What is a freeway overpass?

A freeway overpass is a bridge that allows one road to cross over another.

Do parkways have landscaped surroundings?

Yes, parkways are often landscaped to harmonize with natural settings.

Are parkways used for commuting?

Parkways can be used for commuting, though they are more leisure-focused.

Are freeways part of the national highway system?

Many freeways are integral to the national highway system.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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