The series follows Leslie Knope, the deputy head of the Parks and Recreation department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Knope takes on a project with a nurse named Ann to turn a construction pit into a park, while trying to mentor a bored college-aged intern. However, Leslie must fight through the bureaucrats, problem neighbors, and developers in order to make her dream a reality, all while with a camera crew recording her every gaff and mishap.
When Leslie decides to marry two penguins to promote the local zoo, she inadvertently causes an uproar when both penguins turn out to be male. Meanwhile, Mark puts Ann in an awkward situation when he asks her to go see a movie.
While pruning the new community garden, Leslie and Tom find that someone has been growing marijuana. To find those responsible, they decide to have an all-night stakeout of the garden. Meanwhile, Ann asks Leslie's permission to go on a date with Mark.
Leslie gets to judge a beauty contest, but ends up having conflicting opinions on "the ideal woman" with the other judges. While on a date with Mark, Ann learns Andy has been living in the pit.
Leslie is nervous about her first date with Dave, so Ann takes her on a practice date to help her prepare. Meanwhile, after a local councilman is caught up in a sex scandal, Tom, Ron, April and Mark decide to see who can uncover the worst dirt on each other.
Leslie plays host to the Parks and Recreation department from Pawnee’s sister city, Boraqua, Venezuela, and is shocked at the cultural differences. Tom becomes an errand boy, and April plays hard to get.
Leslie, Ann and the rest of the Parks Department volunteer to help the organization KaBOOM! build a playground for a neighboring town. After building an entire playground in one day, Leslie gets frustrated at the lack of progress with the pit, and takes some advice from Mark to cut through the red tape.
Leslie enlists the help of Dave and Andy in order to catch a local teen vandal. Meanwhile, Ann struggles to make her Halloween party fun, and ends up getting help from an unlikely source.
Leslie is upset when she learns the library department wants to take over her lot. Making matters worse, the library is run by Ron's ex-wife Tammy, who still has a powerful emotional hold on him. Meanwhile, Andy gets a job in hopes of winning Ann back.
After one of the murals in City Hall is defaced, Leslie and the Parks Department compete to come up with a new design. Meanwhile, Andy and Ron share an uncomfortable moment at the shoeshine stand.
Leslie tries to prove she can hang with the guys so she invites herself on Ron’s annual hunting trip, but things don’t go as planned. Meanwhile, April and Andy bond in the office while everyone is away.
After Leslie finds out that Tom is getting a divorce, the department takes him out on the town to cheer him up. Meanwhile, Andy tries to hustle Mark in a game of pool.
Leslie designs the Pawnee Winter Wonderland Festival, but has to hide from the press when a meeting with a disgraced Councilman lands her in the middle of a sex scandal. Meanwhile, Ron offers to cover for Leslie for the day, and quickly discovers how much work she really does.
Ann sets Leslie up on a blind date with a co-worker, which does not go as well as Leslie hoped. An old friend of Ann's makes Mark feel insecure.
After an amazing date with Justin in Indianapolis, Leslie tries to impress him with a dinner party at her house.
The Parks Department forms a partnership with a local company to sell energy bars at the parks in Pawnee, but Leslie tries to stop the deal when she discovers how unhealthy the snacks are. Mark reluctantly agrees to help Tom move out of his house.
When Leslie hears her mom’s story about an old flame, she and her boyfriend Justin track him down and reunite them on Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, Andy and his band are nervous about playing a gig at the Senior Center.
Leslie is outraged when Ron wins a “Woman of the Year” award for a project she started. Meanwhile, Tom is desperate to find some money to invest in a local Pawnee club.
When a possum bites the mayor's dog on a golf course, Leslie is asked to form a task force to catch the pesky animal. Meanwhile, Ron is upset when Mark refuses to bend the rules for him.
After Jerry gets mugged by a bunch of kids, Leslie meets with the head park ranger in hopes of improving park safety. Meanwhile, everyone tries to be nicer to Jerry once he returns to the office.
Preparing the Summer Events Catalog, Leslie decides to take Ron and the past directors of the Parks Department out for a picnic lunch. Tom enlists the help of Ann and Mark to pose for the cover photo.
Ron is furious when April mistakenly schedules a ton of meetings for him. Meanwhile, Leslie fights to preserve a historical landmark.
Leslie hosts a late-night shift for a local telethon, and lands former Indiana Pacer Detlef Schrempf as a celebrity guest. Meanwhile, Mark has big plans for his relationship with Ann.
Leslie is disappointed when her new park plans are put on hold by a visit from two state auditors. April has plans for Andy at her birthday party, and Ann tries to piece together a romantic mystery.