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5 Great Cities in Pennsylvania for Young Families

These cities are safe, affordable and loaded with opportunities for family-friendly fun.

By Brittany Anas on September 29, 2022

pittsburgh pa
Photo Courtesy of VisitPITTSBURGH

Looking to put down roots? There are many family-friendly cities in Pennsylvania that are not only safe, affordable and have strong school systems, but also have unexpected amenities that hold major appeal for kids. We’re talking about a chocolate-themed amusement park, year-round community festivals, trains, cool parks and a hands-on robotics exhibit where you can challenge a robot to a game of air hockey.

Ahead, check out five Pennsylvania cities where families will feel right at home (and have plenty of fun on the weekends, too).

Photo courtesy of Derek Brady

Hershey

Population: 13,858
Median home value: $354,401

With streetlights that look like Hershey Kisses, the aroma of cocoa swirling in the air and easy access to the amusement rides at Hersheypark, living in this idyllic, chocolate-centric city is a dream come true for many kids. More than a century ago, Milton S. Hershey built Hershey to meet the social, cultural and recreational needs of chocolate factory workers. Today, families who live here can enjoy the sweet life with several parks in the area that offer everything from disc golf to an annual fishing derby and top-notch schools including those within the Derry Township School District as well as Penn State College of Medicine. Plus, how cool would it be to have an address on Cocoa Avenue or Caramel Court?

Pittsburgh

Population: 302,971
Median home value: $234,320

The secret’s out about Pittsburgh as a family-friendly, midsized city that holds special appeal for tech and robotics workers who want to put down roots. Housing prices are a fraction of what they are in Silicon Valley and other big tech cities, and Pittsburgh has friendly neighborhoods, top-notch schools and world-class universities, plus a thriving arts and culture scene. It helps that several tech companies offering competitive benefits packages have offices in Pittsburgh, including Google, which offers up to 24 weeks of paid parental leave. Weekend itineraries vary, from trips to Carnegie Science Center, which has a robotics exhibit called roboworld (you can take selfies with life-size robots and challenge one to a game of air hockey) to paddling tandem kayaks through the heart of downtown to becoming regulars at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

iStock/DenisTangneyJr

Scranton

Population: 76,328
Median home value: $142,408

Maybe Scranton sounds familiar because of “The Office” references. Or perhaps you’ve heard President Joe Biden relay fond memories of growing up in this northeastern Pennsylvania city. But “The Electric City” (it was one of the first in the country to use electricity) deserves further introduction. This city of 76,000 residents has recently been recognized as a top place to work remotely thanks to affordable living, downtown revitalization and access to high-speed internet. Scranton families have access to plenty of splash pads and parks, too, including the scenic Nay Aug Park, which has a handicap-accessible treehouse, an inclusive playground, a swimming complex, plus trails and picnic areas. Tight-knit neighborhoods offer a small-town feel where dollars stretch further, and homes are big enough you can create a home office or playroom. But residents are still within a two-hour drive of Philadelphia and New York City and a family beach trip to the Jersey Shore is just a few hours away.

Moravian University, Bethlehem, PA
Moravian University, Bethlehem, PA / Courtesy of Moravian University

Bethlehem

Population: 75,781
Median home value: $289,873

Bethlehem may be known as “Christmas City USA,” but free movies in the park, live music and community festivals (there’s more than 175 a year!) keeps the family-friendly fun going year-round. The 75,000-plus residents who call Bethlehem home can enjoy a high quality of life and a vibrant economy, with industries like life science research and advanced manufacturing experiencing growth in greater Lehigh Valley. Safe and friendly neighborhoods, more than 40 parks plus strong schools score livability points with families.

Altoona

Population: 43,963
Median home value: $116,907

Train-obsessed kids will adore Altoona, a midsize city along the Allegheny mountain range. In celebration of its rich railroad history, Altoona is home to an interactive museum, the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, and a national historic landmark, Horseshoe Curve, a 2,375-foot horseshoe-shaped passage through the hills. To round out weekend fun, Altoona residents can explore mystical caves, check out the arts scene, spend a Saturday at a historic amusement park, or cheer on the city’s minor league baseball team. Home prices are affordable here, and Blair County’s K-12 schools are consistently ranked among the top in the state and have a growing focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education.

Choosing a place to live for young families is a difficult decision, but in Pennsylvania, you can rest assured that you can’t go wrong with any of these five cities.

This article was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

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