2014

Top 10 Best Cities for Kids 2014

Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, Calif., is a great place for families.
Palo Alto Duck Pond in Palo Alto, Calif., is a great place for families.

Ranking Criteria

  • Percentage of households with school-age children
  • Environment
  • Crime rate
  • School ranking
  • Cost of living
  • Restaurants with kids' menus

It’s only natural for parents to want what’s best for their kids and offer them every possible advantage. But depending on where you live, those advantages may be limited. Our picks for the Top 10 Best Cities for Kids give children opportunities to get a great education, live healthy lifestyles and engage in a multitude of activities with other kids.

To come up with our list of the best places for kids to live, we first identified cities with high concentrations of school-age children, then took a look at how their schools stacked up and analyzed health factors like childhood mortality rates, health insurance coverage, crime rates and access to healthy food options. We used rankings compiled on GreatSchools.org to help select places where schools are highly praised. Health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped us find cities where children are safe, eat well and receive excellent health care. Next, we considered cost of living. We weren’t trying to find the least expensive places to live, but rather communities where the average salary more than comfortably covered the cost of housing and most living expenses. We worked with Food Genius, a company that delivers big data and insight solutions to the food industry, to comb through its vast database and find the percentage of restaurants that feature kids' menus. That gave us a unique indication of how kid-friendly an area is.

Finally, we looked for cities with a lot of parks, playgrounds, libraries and recreational venues geared specifically for children. Many of the places we found are suburbs of larger cities that offer even more things to do, but these towns have their own school systems and offer a slower pace and small-town vibe.

Take a look at our picks for the best cities for kids.

*Photo courtesy of Don DeBold, available under a Creative Commons license.

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