#8. Palo Alto

Our overall 2014 Best Place to Live is a great place to raise kids. While parents pay a high price to live in Palo Alto, CA, their children can attend exceptionally rated schools, play in pristine parks and experience the benefits of living in the heart of Silicon Valley. Those benefits include a low crime rate, access to educational opportunities and cultural events at nearby Stanford University, a vibrant downtown, historic neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, free shuttles and bike paths. Then there’s the Mediterranean climate with temperatures rarely surpassing 80 degrees and hardly ever dipping below 40, meaning that kids can often bike or walk to their neighborhood schools. Nearly 26 percent of all households in Palo Alto have kids.

Families take full advantage of the beautiful weather Palo Alto offers by engaging in a multitude of outdoor activities that include kayaking and hiking in the Baylands Nature Preserve, watching animals at the Junior Museum and Zoo, and checking out trains at the Barron Park Garden Railway. The Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches are located a short drive from the city, and families have lots of things to do in Palo Alto. Both the nearby Cantor Arts Center at Stanford and the Palo Alto Art Center offer classes geared towards kids and host family-friendly art exhibits. The city’s public library system offers captivating programs for young children and teens, including story times held in garden spaces, and includes a separate Children’s Library, the oldest free-standing children’s library in the country. The Palo Alto Children’s Theatre not only puts on shows for children but also offers classes in acting and production.

For mommies and daddies: A large collection of independent restaurants in Palo Alto allows diners to explore new taste sensations. Luckily, more than 28 percent of restaurants here offer kids’ menus.

*Photo courtesy of Ho John Lee, available under a Creative Commons license.

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