#2 - Downers Grove, IL - Top 10 Best Cities for Kids, 2014

The annual Downers Grove July 4th Parade is one of the city's most popular family-friendly events.
The annual Downers Grove July 4th Parade is one of the city's most popular family-friendly events.

An extremely low crime rate, great parks and highly rated schools make the Village of Downers Grove, Ill., an excellent place to raise kids. This suburb of Chicago includes about 600 acres of parks and green space and hosts more than 140 festivals and community events throughout the year, and more than 24 percent of all households have children. But it’s the village’s safety that really stands out. The most recent comparison showed that Downers Grove’s crime rate is less than a quarter of the national average, the lowest of the cities on this list.

Community leaders put a lot of focus on creating a healthy, family-friendly environment. The Clean Cities Coalition recently awarded Downers Grove with a Green Fleet ranking, recognizing the village’s efforts to use alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. Major renovations to the Downers Grove Public Library will add a new children’s area, cafe and study spaces. The village plans to add more pedestrian and bicycle paths to give residents more transportation options. The renovation of downtown Downers Grove in 2001 added new sidewalks, streets, signage, park benches and landscaping, which garnered praise from the American Public Works Association. The Downers Grove Park District offers a variety of youth athletic leagues, a mini golf course, two recreation centers and a 150-acre nature area with walking trails.

For mommies and daddies: The historic Tivoli Theatre features an organ and shows a mix of current blockbusters, arthouse films and classic movies.

*Photo courtesy of Richard Roche, available under a Creative Commons license.