MONEY’s Best Places have everything a grown-up might want: great jobs, affordable homes, and short commute times. But what would the list look like from a kid’s point of view? For the young—and the young at heart—here are the top 5 places to be a kid.
We began by including only towns where the population of people younger than age 19 was greater than 30% (higher than the national average). We then calculated the rankings based on educational outcomes, safety, child obesity rates, and proximity to libraries, museums, movie theaters, aquariums, zoos, and green spaces, giving the most weight to safety and education. Limited to one place per state.—Michaela Ross
Woodbury, New York
Kids in Woodbury have a lot of the great outdoors to love. The town’s pool, swimming reservoir, hiking trails, and sporting fields are surrounded by sweeping views of wooded hamlets, multiple state parks, and Schunnemunk Mountain. The district’s music education program is a national standout, and its solid educational system ranks it high on MONEY’s 2015 Best Places to Live at #19. In Woodbury, families can enjoy all the peace and quiet of a rural town—with New York City’s museums, theaters, and zoos less than 90 minutes away.
Superior, just a 15-minute drive from Boulder, has access to some of the best skiing, rafting, and mountain trails in the country. But families know what really shines about this town is its excellent education system. Superior Elementary School earned a perfect rating on GreatSchools.org, and the local high school is Colorado’s first High School of Business, offering a dual college/high school business program. An award-winning robotics team and curriculum in pre-engineering and applied technology keep kids engaged and exploring in the classroom, and happy to call this their hometown.
Coppell ranks high at #8 on MONEY’s list of Best Places to Live 2015, and its standout community spirit makes it a great place to grow up too. Ice cream socials, block parties, and city celebrations are a constant on the town’s calendar, and there are outdoor activities galore. Coppell’s recreation system offers fishing, tennis, lacrosse, baseball, football, soccer, and basketball. And construction is under way for a new community-wide trails system and town square, complete with playground and splash pad. Add in an outstanding academic record at area schools and the amenities of Dallas just down the road, and it’s easy to see why Coppell is a kid favorite.
Rosemount, which also ranks as #12 in MONEY’s Top 50 Best Places to Live this year, shines as a kid favorite. Just 30 minutes outside Minneapolis, it’s close to all the amenities of the big city—including almost 100 libraries—in a small-town setting noted as one of the safest in the state. Winter season brings no shortage of fun on the town’s multiple ice rinks and expansive parks along the Mississippi River, and in the summertime kids flock to the newly built sports field, playground complex, and 3,700-square-foot splash pad. When class is in session, parents have another reason to smile: access to a nationally recognized public school district of choice.
Tenafly, New Jersey
When it comes to the sheer number of museums, libraries, movie theaters, zoos, and aquariums nearby, Tenafly is a kid’s dream. Its less than 20-mile proximity to New York City gives the town access to some of the best entertainment and educational activities in the country, but there is also plenty happening locally, including a School of Rock music program, a comprehensive parks and recreational program with loads of sports options, and Tenafly’s Nature Center on nearly 400 acres of woodland along the Hudson River. To top it off, Tenafly’s schools are consistently ranked at the top in the state.