The Best Places to Raise Your Kids 2012

  1. Great schools and low crime
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    Great schools and low crime

    When families move for work or lifestyle changes, they try to pick the place with the best opportunities for their children as well as for overall living standards. Parents carefully consider many factors, including the quality of schools in the area, the cost of living, the available amenities, and safety, to name a few—and this is no easy task. In Businessweek.com’s 6th annual ranking of best places to raise kids, we teamed up with Bloomberg Rankings to evaluate 4,169 places with a crime index less than 10 percent above the national average, populations between 1,000 and 50,000 people, and median family income within 20 percent of the state median, using data from real estate data company Onboard Informatics. Each place was assigned a score based on information about education (such as school scores, the number of public and private schools, and colleges), economy (including median family income, expenses, job growth, and unemployment), crime, amenities (such as child day-care centers, zoos, aquariums, museums, theaters, recreation centers, green space), air quality, and ethnic diversity. School performance, expenditures, and income were given the most weight. Nationwide, the overall winner was Blacksburg, Va., followed by Arlington, Neb., and Morton Grove, Ill. Businessweek.com also selected a top place in each state.

    Click here to see the best place to live in your state.

    *Data source on all slides is Onboard Informatics unless noted otherwise.

  2. Best Place to Raise Kids in Alabama: Cullman
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Alabama: Cullman

    Nearby city: Birmingham
    Population:* 14,697
    Median family income:* $52,207
    Avg. school math score:* 93.88 (State avg.:* 81.06)
    Avg. school reading score:* 95.54 (State avg.:* 84.98)

    Cullman’s schools are among the best in the Alabama. The West Point Elementary School and West Elementary School were both named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Education Dept. Incidentally, Cullman was dry until voters elected in 2010 to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages within city limits, reported the Cullman Times. Alcohol sales started in February 2011.

    * Data source on all slides is Onboard Informatics unless noted otherwise.

    Photographer: Anne Rippy/Getty Images
  3. Best Place to Raise Kids in Alaska: Valdez
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Alaska: Valdez

    Nearest city: Anchorage
    Population: 3,712
    Median family income: $94,484
    Avg. school math score: 76.73 (State avg.: 65.86)
    Avg. school reading score: 88.7 (State avg.: 73.8)

    The port city of Valdez offers an abundance of outdoor recreation, especially for lovers of winter activities and wildlife. The southern terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Valdez relies on oil, tourism, commercial fishing, shipping, transportation, and government for economic activity, according to the city website. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred about 25 miles from the city, devastating beaches and marine life in the area, though the oil never reached Valdez.

    Photographer: Thinkstock
  4. Best Place to Raise Kids in Arizona: Vail
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Arizona: Vail

    Nearby city: Tucson
    Population: 10,208**
    Median family income: $63,157
    Avg. school math score: 83.25 (State avg.: 55.38)
    Avg. school reading score: 91.75 (State avg.: 73.29)

    Once again, Vail emerged as Businessweek.com’s best place to raise kids in Arizona. The city experienced rapid growth in the past decade and now has a population of 10,208, compared with 2,484 in 2000, according to U.S. Census data. Rankings by Onboard Informatics show that Vail schools outperform others in the state in math and science. As for recreation, the town is near parks, nature preserves, and conservation areas.

    ** Population data for Vail are from the U.S. Census Bureau, not Onboard Informatics.

    Photographer: Terry Vine/Getty Images
  5. Best Place to Raise Kids in Arkansas: Centerton
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Arkansas: Centerton

    Nearby city: Rogers
    Population: 9,823
    Median family income: $54,523
    Avg. school math score: 92.5 (State avg.: 77.29)
    Avg. school reading score: 81.5 (State avg.: 73.17)

    Centerton is just a few miles from Bentonville, where Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) is headquartered. With a population that has more than quadrupled since 2000 (based on U.S. Census data), Centerton is one of the state’s fastest-growing cities. According to the city website, Centerton has many new, conveniently located housing developments.

    Photographer: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
  6. Best Place to Raise Kids in California: East San Gabriel
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in California: East San Gabriel

    Nearby city: Los Angeles
    Population: 15,321
    Median family income: $77,672
    Avg. school math score: 85.31 (State avg.: 61.61)
    Avg. school reading score: 82.46 (State avg.: 53.41)

    East San Gabriel is home to Emperor Elementary School and Wilson Elementary School, which are both highly ranked by Greatschools.org. Many residents of this small community commute to Los Angeles for work, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The main employment sectors for East San Gabriel residents are education, health care, and retailing.

    Photographer: Zia Soleil/Getty Images
  7. Best Place to Raise Kids in Colorado: Littleton
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Colorado: Littleton

    Nearby city: Denver
    Population: 41,903
    Median family income: $79,448
    Avg. school math score: 73.19 (State avg.: 60.69)
    Avg. school reading score: 81.08 (State avg.: 71.49)

    For the second year in a row, Littleton ranks as the best place to raise kids in Colorado. The Denver suburb has good public and private schools, many cultural and community events, and plenty of parks, trails, and open space.

    Photographer: David Epperson/Getty Images
  8. Best Place to Raise Kids in Connecticut: Kensington
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Connecticut: Kensington

    Nearby city: Hartford
    Population: 8,567
    Median family income: $83,352
    Avg. school math score: 95.71 (State avg.: 88.2)
    Avg. school reading score: 89.7 (State avg.: 80.68)

    Kensington, about 14 miles from Hartford, once again took the top spot in Connecticut. It is home to the Mary E. Griswold School, identified by Greatschool.org as an exceptional elementary school, as well as such private schools as St. Paul School and Mooreland Hill School. Kensington also has a number of child day-care centers, according to Onboard Informatics.

    Photographer: Michael Melford/Getty Images
  9. Best Place to Raise Kids in Delaware: Ocean View
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Delaware: Ocean View

    Nearby city: Seaford
    Population: 2,223
    Median family income: $59,538
    Avg. school math score: 93.71 (State avg.: 75.75)
    Avg. school reading score: 92.76 (State avg.: 83.33)

    The town of Ocean View, a beach community with parks, shops, and restaurants, is served by the high-performing Indian River School District. The town is considered a quieter alternative to nearby resort town Bethany Beach, and while Ocean View has a year-round community, about 50 percent of its housing units are for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use, according to U.S. Census data.

    Photographer: Stephen St. John/Getty Images
  10. Best Place to Raise Kids in Florida: Niceville
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Florida: Niceville

    Nearby city: Fort Walton Beach
    Population: 11,874
    Median family income: $71,888
    Avg. school math score: 89.71 (State avg.: 68.43)
    Avg. school reading score: 89.71 (State avg.: 65.91)

    The town of Niceville, once known as “Boggy”, is in Florida’s panhandle along the shores of Choctawhatchee Bay. It has parks, a youth center, and sports fields and is home to the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival (mullet the fish, not the hairstyle), which attracts thousands of attendees each year.

    Photographer: Jim Arbogast/Getty Images
  11. Best Place to Raise Kids in Georgia: Hoschton
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Georgia: Hoschton

    Nearby city: Gainesville
    Population: 2,263
    Median family income: $73,683
    Avg. school math score: 91.81 (State avg.: 81.61)
    Avg. school reading score: 95.28 (State avg.: 89.7)

    About 50 miles from Atlanta, Hoschton provides open spaces and views of the state’s Piedmont Region just south of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with many outdoor activities. The West Jackson Park has facilities for softball and soccer as well as a playground and walking trails. Hoschton is a short distance from shopping, dining and entertainment, and other amenities in Athens, Gainesville, and metro Atlanta, according to the city’s promotional material.

    Photographer: Phillip Spears/Getty Images
  12. Best Place to Raise Kids in Hawaii: Waimalu
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Hawaii: Waimalu

    Nearby city: Honolulu
    Population: 25,820
    Median family income: $86,125
    Avg. school math score: 64.14 (State avg.: 48.32)
    Avg. school reading score: 77.26 (State avg.: 64.43)

    Residents can find a mix of owner occupied and rental housing in Waimalu—a community next door to last year’s best place in Hawaii, Pearl City (which ranks second this year). According to Prudential Locations, a real estate company, the area has several excellent schools, restaurants, shopping centers with easy freeway access, and reasonably priced condominiums, including tall buildings with great views.

    Photographer: Robert James DeCamp/Getty Images
  13. Best Place to Raise Kids in Idaho: Moscow
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Idaho: Moscow

    Nearby city: Pullman, Wash.
    Population: 23,689
    Median family income: $58,124
    Avg. school math score: 91.01 (State avg.: 80)
    Avg. school reading score: 90.41 (State avg.: 82.63)

    Universities have a big presence in Moscow, which is home to the University of Idaho and just across the state line from Washington State University. Camping, mountain biking, snowmobiling, fishing, skiing, and hunting opportunities abound, according to community website moscow.com. Live entertainment is also popular in Moscow, including the university’s Jazz Festival, the Rendezvous in the Park summer music festival, and summer theater.

    Photographer: Chad Case/Getty Images
  14. Best Place to Raise Kids in Illinois: Morton Grove
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Illinois: Morton Grove

    Nearby city: Chicago
    Population: 23,464
    Median family income: $83,601
    Avg. school math score: 93.25 (State avg.: 86.19)
    Avg. school reading score: 88.83 (State avg.: 79.96)

    The No. 3 best place to raise your kids in the U.S. Morton Grove, a suburb about 15 miles from Chicago, is part of a park district that comprises 14 parks totaling more than 70 acres, two outdoor pools, a museum, four field houses, a 50,000-square-foot community center, and an outdoor ice rink, according to Morton Grove Park District. The village is home to several high-performing schools, including Hynes Elementary School, Park View Elementary School, Golf Middle School, and Melzer School, according to greatschools.org.

    Photographer: Bryce Pincham/Getty Images
  15. Best Place to Raise Kids in Indiana: Pittsboro
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Indiana: Pittsboro

    Nearby city: Indianapolis
    Population: 1,957
    Median family income: $70,725
    Avg. school math score: 95.33 (State avg.: 79.45)
    Avg. school reading score: 92.67 (State avg.: 77.55)

    Pittsboro holds a special place in the hearts of Nascar fans. Not only is this small Midwestern town close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; it is also the childhood home of four-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon, who is No. 3 on the all-time wins list, with 85 victories notched on his wheel. Pittsboro is a good ol’-fashioned American community that is only about 30 minutes from downtown Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Colts. But racing and football aren’t the only popular sports in the area. Pittsboro is also a short drive from more than 30 private and public golf courses.  Of the 50 places on this list, Pittsboro is the No. 9 best place in the U.S. to raise your kids.

    Photographer: Barry Winiker/Getty Images
  16. Best Place to Raise Kids in Iowa: Park View
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Iowa: Park View

    Nearby city: Davenport, Iowa
    Population: 2,300
    Median family income: $65,367
    Avg. school math score: 97.14 (State avg.: 80.29)
    Avg. school reading score: 98.57 (State avg.: 77.43)

    Park View is located almost exactly halfway between Des Moines and Chicago, a roughly three-hour drive in either direction. The nearest big city—13.4 miles as the crow flies—is Davenport, Iowa, the seat of Scott County and the largest of the Quad Cities; Bettendorf, Iowa; and Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island, Ill. Park View is a cozy suburb of Davenport, with several golf courses in the area and plenty of wide-open spaces, including numerous athletic fields, basketball courts, and walking trails. The local high schools are outstanding, and the schools’ teams are competitive.

    Photographer: Thinkstock
  17. Best Place to Raise Kids in Kansas: Belle Plaine
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Kansas: Belle Plaine

    Nearby city: Wichita
    Population: 1,556
    Median family income: $74,463
    Avg. school math score: 89.67 (State avg.: 85.95)
    Avg. school reading score: 92.44 (State avg.: 88.88)

    This small (pop. 1,556) suburb of Wichita is just under 30 miles from Wichita, which has a large manufacturing base. The aviation industry has a strong presence here, represented by Boeing, Cessna, Bombardier Learjet, and Raytheon, even though the economic downturn prompted job cuts. Health care is the area’s second-biggest industry. Belle Plaine prides itself on its “excellent schools” and “quality people,” according to the town’s website. One of the high points of the year is the annual Tulip Time Festival, which is held in the spring and attracts visitors from across the state for two days of arts and crafts, food, entertainment, and sports. Of the 50 places on this list, Belle Plaine is the No. 6 best place in the U.S. to raise your kids.

    Photographer: Nick Vedros/Getty Images
  18. Best Place to Raise Kids in Kentucky: Benton
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Kentucky: Benton

    Nearby city: Paducah, Ky.
    Population: 4,097
    Median family income: $60,422
    Avg. school math score: 79.35 (State avg.: 60.71)
    Avg. school reading score: 87.31 (State avg.: 69.42)

    In the southwest part of the state, near the Tennessee border, Benton is the Marshall County seat. The town of just over 4,000 is surrounded by national parks and is close to Kentucky Lake, the largest man-made lake in the U.S. east of the Mississippi. In addition to providing hydroelectric power for the region, the lake is a popular weekend and sporting destination for Benton residents. Despite its small size, Benton offers a nice variety of amenities, including a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a number of restaurants.

    Photographer: Siri Stafford/Getty Images
  19. Best Place to Raise Kids in Louisiana: Lake Arthur
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Louisiana: Lake Arthur

    Nearby city: Lake Charles, La.
    Population: 2,904
    Median family income: $53,537
    Avg. school math score: 88 (State avg.: 67.12)
    Avg. school reading score: 87.5 (State avg.: 66.56)

    This is Cajun country. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 51 percent of the local population comprises people of French origin, many of them descended from the French colonists who relocated to Louisiana following their expulsion from Canada during the French and Indian War. Today the area is a popular tourist destination, well known for its boating and fishing, primarily for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

    Photographer: Maria Teijeiro/Getty Images
  20. Best Place to Raise Kids in Maine: Thomaston
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Maine: Thomaston

    Nearby city: Rockland, Me.
    Population: 2,724
    Median family income: $54,399
    Avg. school math score: 63.43 (State avg.: 58.65)
    Avg. school reading score: 82.17 (State avg.: 69.26)

    This former seaport on Maine’s Penobscot Bay is on that state’s infamous (at least to summer visitors) Route 1 corridor. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, this road is one long traffic jam full of vacationers ferrying between beach, boat, and lobster pound. For locals, the off-season is quieter but no less beautiful (if a little colder). The town, once one of the wealthiest in the U.S., contains many historical buildings, as well as Lyman Morse Boatbuilding, one of the oldest boatyards in the country.

    Photographer: Dennis Welsh/Getty Images
  21. Best Place to Raise Kids in Maryland: Sykesville
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Maryland: Sykesville

    Nearby city: Baltimore
    Population: 4,634
    Median family income: $92,142
    Avg. school math score: 90.53 (State avg.: 83.57)
    Avg. school reading score: 95.13 (State avg.: 86.51)

    Sykesville’s history goes back 200 years, but that doesn’t stop it from thinking about the future—especially a green future. According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, Sykesville, in Carroll County and about a 30-minute drive from Baltimore, is looking to renewable energy to save both money and the environment. Its goal is to use geothermal, solar, or wind power for all town offices. Speaking of green, the town is surrounded by many parks and is near the Pocono Mountains. Of the 50 places on this list, Sykesville is the No. 10 best place to raise your kids in the U.S.

    Photographer: Greg Dale/Getty Images
  22. Best Place to Raise Kids in Massachusetts: Franklin
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Massachusetts: Franklin

    Nearby city: Providence, R.I.
    Population: 31,694
    Median family income: $97,897
    Avg. school math score: 77.17 (State avg.: 60.77)
    Avg. school reading score: 83.03 (State avg.: 69.17)

    Named for Benjamin Franklin and incorporated in 1778, Franklin is an historic town just under an hour from Boston and a little more than 30 minutes from Providence, R.I. The local public school system serves more than 6,000 students in 10 different schools, and the kids can choose among many physical activities, from ice hockey to yoga. The town is also home to the nation’s first public library, which houses books originally donated by Franklin himself, as well as to Dean College, a small liberal arts institution. The city’s Franklin School of the Performing Arts attracts dance and theater students.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  23. Best Place to Raise Kids in Michigan: Spring Arbor
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Michigan: Spring Arbor

    Nearby city: Jackson, Mich.
    Population: 2,049
    Median family income: $68,635
    Avg. school math score: 95.67 (State avg.: 83.74)
    Avg. school reading score: 94.97 (State avg.: 83.75)

    Spring Arbor returns to the ranking for the second year in a row. Home to one of the largest evangelical Christian universities in Michigan, Spring Arbor was settled in the 1830s by people with strong religious convictions. The city is less than an hour’s drive from Ann Arbor, one hour from Battle Creek, and less than 20 minutes from Jackson, the local county seat. Major employers in the area include Spring Arbor University, as well as the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Michigan International Speedway, both in Jackson. Of the 50 places on this list, Spring Arbor is the No. 5 best place to raise your kids in the U.S.

    Photographer: Greg Ceo/Getty Images
  24. Best Place to Raise Kids in Minnesota: Mound
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Minnesota: Mound

    Nearby city: Minneapolis
    Population: 9,749
    Median family income: $80,517
    Avg. school math score: 93.95 (State avg.: 66.34)
    Avg. school reading score: 93.2 (State avg.: 73.19)

    If you like either Tonka trucks or Kevin Sorbo—or Kevin Sorbo playing with Tonka trucks—Mound is the place for you. That’s because Mound is the birthplace of both one of America’s favorite toys as well as the former star of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys. Nevertheless, Mound, named for the prehistoric mounds that dot the local landscape, is probably best known for its proximity to Lake Minnetonka, a 14,528-acre natural lake that has been a popular resort destination for more than a century.

    Photographer: Mecky/Getty Images
  25. Best Place to Raise Kids in Mississippi: Pontotoc
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Mississippi: Pontotoc

    Nearby city: Tupelo
    Population: 5,760
    Median family income: $53,422
    Avg. school math score: 83.78 (State avg.: 58.64)
    Avg. school reading score: 68.68 (State avg.: 50.24)

    Pontotoc, seat of Pontotoc County, is in the northeast corner of the state, less than 30 minutes to the east of Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis Presley. Forty-five minutes in the opposite direction (west) is Oxford, home of another great American genius, William Faulkner, and of one of the preeminent universities of the South, the University of Mississippi, commonly referred to as “Ole Miss.”

    Photographer: David Nevala/Getty Images
  26. Best Place to Raise Kids in Missouri:  Crestwood
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Missouri: Crestwood

    Nearby city: St. Louis
    Population: 11,194
    Median family income: $70,668
    Avg. school math score: 83.79 (State avg.: 54.13)
    Avg. school reading score: 76.91 (State avg.: 51.68)

    The culture, music, and jobs of St. Louis—not to mention the World Series-winning Cardinals–may be only 13 miles away, but the suburban community of Crestwood, as the town website points out, offers lower tax rates and better municipal services. It is part of the Lindbergh School district, which was the state’s first to offer the International Baccalaureate program.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  27. Best Place to Raise Kids in Montana: Bozeman
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Montana: Bozeman

    Nearby city: Bozeman
    Population: 38,334
    Median family income: $63,940
    Avg. school math score: 76.44 (State avg.: 65.12)
    Avg. school reading score: 89.06 (State avg.: 84.04)

    Bozeman once again earns top honors for Montana—and it’s easy to see why. There is no better playground than the great outdoors, something Bozeman features in spades. From nearby Yellowstone National Park to the Bridger Range and Spanish Peaks are endless opportunities for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and swimming. The city also offers cultural opportunities, a historic downtown area with cute shops, and museums such as the Montana Museum of the Rockies.

    Photographer: Stephen Simpson/Getty Images
  28. Best Place to Raise Kids in Nebraska: Arlington
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Nebraska: Arlington

    Nearby city: Omaha
    Population: 1,174
    Median family income: $70,881
    Avg. school math score: 98.69 (State avg.: 93.01)
    Avg. school reading score: 99.67 (State avg.: 94.55)

    The No. 2 best place to raise your kids in the U.S. A small, rural community 30 miles northwest of Omaha, Arlington is a classic Midwest farming town that hosts the annual Washington County Fair, with rabbit showmanship, mud volleyball, and other fun for the kids. Arlington public schools are top-notch, serving 600 students in an elementary, middle, and high school.

    Photographer: Philip Nealey/Getty Images
  29. Best Place to Raise Kids in Nevada: Moapa Valley
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Nevada: Moapa Valley

    Nearby city: Las Vegas
    Population: 6,185
    Median family income: $73,166
    Avg. school math score: 73.42 (State avg.: 64.78)
    Avg. school reading score: 69.09 (State avg.: 69.31)

    Nestled on the edge of Lake Mead, the Moapa Valley is a sliver of green amid a vast desert. The valley hosts the communities of Overton, Logandale, Glendale, and Moapa. Kids enjoy such annual events as the Clark County Fair & Rodeo and the Pomegranate Festival. This is Moapa Valley’s second trip in a row to the rankings.

    Photographer: Siri Stafford/Getty Images
  30. Best Place to Raise Kids in New Hampshire: South Hooksett
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in New Hampshire: South Hooksett

    Nearby city: Manchester
    Population: 5,788
    Median family income: $84,779
    Avg. school math score: 84.33 (State avg.: 65.82)
    Avg. school reading score: 89 (State avg.: 76.41)

    The village of South Hooksett is part of the town of Hooksett but is better described as a quiet world of suburban homes and cul-de-sacs adjacent to New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester. The village has a rural feel, acres of open space, and endless ponds nearby, along with plenty of things to do in the area.

    Photographer: Laurie Swope/Getty Images
  31. Best Place to Raise Kids in New Jersey: Ridgefield Park
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in New Jersey: Ridgefield Park

    Nearby city: New York City
    Population: 12,953
    Median family income: $76,240
    Avg. school math score: 93.84 (State avg.: 79.88)
    Avg. school reading score: 86.6 (State avg.: 72.07)

    For the second year in a row, Ridgefield Park ranks as the best place to raise kids in New Jersey. Although it is just across the Hudson from Manhattan, homes in Ridgefield Park have wide lawns and sit near great schools, a town pool, green parks, and numerous community events that draw residents together and give kids an opportunity to play.

    Photographer: Garry Wade/Getty Images
  32. Best Place to Raise Kids in New Mexico: Peralta
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in New Mexico: Peralta

    Nearby city: Albuquerque
    Population: 3,659
    Median family income: $49,246
    Avg. school math score: 63.5 (State avg.: 42.26)
    Avg. school reading score: 69.18 (State avg.: 52.61)

    Incorporated as a municipality in 2007, Peralta is a bedroom community south of Albuquerque. In a growing area, the town boasts an excellent elementary school and numerous businesses.

    Photographer: Michael Snell/Getty Images
  33. Best Place to Raise Kids in New York: Hampton Manor
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in New York: Hampton Manor

    Nearby city: Albany
    Population: 2,490
    Median family income: $64,354
    Avg. school math score: 87.33 (State avg.: 67.87)
    Avg. school reading score: 80.33 (State avg.: 62.24)

    A sleepy suburb of Albany, Hampton Manor is the part of the town of East Greenbush that is closest to Rensselaer and Albany. The area has friendly neighborhoods, community events, and such parks as Hampton Lake Town Park.

    Photographer: Sean De Burca/Getty Images
  34. Best Place to Raise Kids in North Carolina: Tryon
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in North Carolina: Tryon

    Nearby city: Spartanburg, S.C.
    Population: 1,716
    Median family income: $70,103
    Avg. school math score: 92.2 (State avg.: 81.68)
    Avg. school reading score: 91.75 (State avg.: 71.8)

    A cute resort town in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tryon has much more bang for the buck than you’d expect from a population of 1,716. There is much for kids to enjoy beyond hiking and playing in parks, including the annual Tryon Children’s Theater Festival.

    Photographer: Roberto A Sanchez/Getty Images
  35. Best Place to Raise Kids in North Dakota: Watford City
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in North Dakota: Watford City

    Nearby lake: Lake Sakakawea
    Population: 1,417
    Median family income: $62,499
    Avg. school math score: 93.02 (State avg.: 72.22)
    Avg. school reading score: 86.82 (State avg.: 72.64)

    The seat of McKenzie County, Watford City features a renovated Main Street, an indoor pool for kids to play in, and a municipal golf course. Kids will also enjoy outdoor opportunities that include hunting, fishing, biking, and boating.

    Photographer: Jack Hollingsworth/Getty Images
  36. Best Place to Raise Kids in Ohio: St. Henry
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Ohio: St. Henry

    Nearby city: Dayton
    Population: 2,264
    Median family income: $67,802
    Avg. school math score: 95.69 (State avg.: 79.08)
    Avg. school reading score: 94.97 (State avg.: 84.12)

    A small town in western Ohio centered on the gothic revivalist St. Henry’s Catholic Church, St. Henry is great for kids. That’s even more the case if your kids want to be athletes. The excellent local school system, St. Henry Consolidated Local Schools, with about 1,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, has sports teams that have notched numerous state championships. Three athletes from the school have gone on to play in the National Football League and one has gone on to Major League Baseball. Of the 50 places on this list, St. Henry is the No. 4 best place to raise your kids in the U.S.

    Photographer: Andrew Hetherington/Getty Images
  37. Best Place to Raise Kids in Oklahoma: Fort Gibson
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Oklahoma: Fort Gibson

    Nearby city: Muskogee
    Population: 4,399
    Median family income: $52,256
    Avg. school math score: 92.84 (State avg.: 78.58)
    Avg. school reading score: 90.8 (State avg.: 80.63)

    Established as an army fort in 1824, the area has a rich history that now centers on an 80-acre historical site. Today, Fort Gibson is a thriving town with great schools and parks.

    Photographer: Lori Adamski Peek/Getty Images
  38. Best Place to Raise Kids in Oregon: Redwood
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Oregon: Redwood

    Nearby city: Grants Pass
    Population: 2,850
    Median family income: $50,969
    Avg. school math score: 91.43 (State avg.: 73.28)
    Avg. school reading score: 94.7 (State avg.: 77.15)

    An outlying suburb of Grants Pass, Redwood gets all the benefits of the nearby city with a little more space. An area that used to be supported by the timber industry, Grants Pass now depends on tourism. There is much to visit in the area, from the Rogue River to the Oregon Caves National Monument, to the Redwoods along Redwood Highway.

    Photographer: D.R. Hutchinson/Getty Images
  39. Best Place to Raise Kids in Pennsylvania: Cecil-Bishop
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Pennsylvania: Cecil-Bishop

    Nearby city: Pittsburgh
    Population: 40,575
    Median family income: $76,343
    Avg. school math score: 98 (State avg.: 80.62)
    Avg. school reading score: 98.85 (State avg.: 74.36)

    A rural bedroom community 20 miles west of Pittsburgh, Cecil-Bishop is a sleepy suburb of cul-de-sacs and pretty parks. The U.S. Census “designated place” encompasses the township of Cecil, complete with a library and the Cecil Township Ballfield. Of the 50 places on this list, Cecil-Bishop is the No. 8 best place to raise your kids in the U.S.

    Photographer: Jill Tindall/Getty Images
  40. Best Place to Raise Kids in Rhode Island: Bristol
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Rhode Island: Bristol

    Nearby city: Providence
    Population: 22,302
    Median family income: $71,762
    Avg. school math score: 75.57 (State avg.: 62.87)
    Avg. school reading score: 84.86 (State avg.: 73.82)

    Surrounded by bays, beaches, and parks, Bristol offers more than enough to do outdoors. The town hosts concerts and Shakespearean plays in parks during the summer as well as a historic Fourth of July celebration. Bristol boasts great schools and thriving restaurants and stores.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  41. Best Place to Raise Kids in South Carolina: Goose Creek
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in South Carolina: Goose Creek

    Nearby city: Charleston
    Population: 35,950
    Median family income: $60,668
    Avg. school math score: 83.56 (State avg.: 73.08)
    Avg. school reading score: 86.11 (State avg.: 76.35)

    Goose Creek is on our list of best places to raise kids for the second year in a row. There are more than a few reasons. This quiet, pretty suburb of Charleston has much to offer, from great parks to solid schools, to rolling bike trails.

    Photographer: Daniela Duncan/Getty Images
  42. Best Place to Raise Kids in South Dakota: Gettysburg
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in South Dakota: Gettysburg

    Nearby city: Pierre
    Population: 1,001
    Median family income: $50,624
    Avg. school math score: 85.31 (State avg.: 78.94)
    Avg. school reading score: 91.05 (State avg.: 78.59)

    A small town in South Dakota farm country, Gettysburg offers much for kids and adults alike. The summer holds great swimming and other recreation at the West Whitlock Recreation Area, the schools are some of the best in the state, and the community is tight-knit.

    Photographer: Michael Hevesy/Getty Images
  43. Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee: Maryville
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee: Maryville

    Nearby city: Knoxville
    Population: 26,036
    Median family income: $61,594
    Avg. school math score: 60.04 (State avg.: 35.92)
    Avg. school reading score: 67.42 (State avg.: 46.85)

    Tucked among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maryville has an excellent school system with more than 5,000 students. The revitalized downtown has much to offer, not to mention the cultural opportunities of the area, such as those at the Clayton Center for the Arts and at the Annual Foothills Fall Festival, featuring musical acts as well as arts and crafts.

    Photographer: Bob Schatz/Getty Images
  44. Best Place to Raise Kids in Texas: Wells Branch
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Texas: Wells Branch

    Nearby city: Austin
    Population: 13,857
    Median family income: $72,740
    Avg. school math score: 93.47 (State avg.: 84.18)
    Avg. school reading score: 96.33 (State avg.: 89.64)

    An upscale suburb of Austin, Wells Branch is a land of open parks and curling cul-de-sacs. Beyond the cultural offerings of Austin, Wells Branch provides a number of fun festivals and events for the kids, such as the Youth Fowl Shot Contest, in which basketball skills can win a Thanksgiving turkey. Of the 50 places on this list, Wells Branch is the No. 7 best place in the U.S. to raise your kids.

    Photographer: David Sucsy/Getty Images
  45. Best Place to Raise Kids in Utah: Smithfield
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Utah: Smithfield

    Nearby city: Logan
    Population: 9,531
    Median family income: $61,835
    Avg. school math score: 92.85 (State avg.: 75.96)
    Avg. school reading score: 94.06 (State avg.: 80.76)

    A northern suburb of Logan, in the corridor that runs along the Wasatch Range toward Salt Lake City, Smithfield is a pretty city with great outdoor opportunities. There are good schools, plentiful parks, and many fun events throughout the year.

    Photographer: Joel Sartore/Getty Images
  46. Best Place to Raise Kids in Vermont: North Bennington
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Vermont: North Bennington

    Nearby city: Bennington
    Population: 1,351
    Median family income: $55,832
    Avg. school math score: 78 (State avg.: 56.23)
    Avg. school reading score: 78 (State avg.: 68.68)

    North Bennington returns to the rankings as Vermont’s best place to raise kids after losing out last year to White River Junction. (North Bennington was last year’s runner-up.) This little village sits in the town of Bennington, home to one of the nation’s top private colleges. North Bennington, nestled in the Valley of Paran Creek, is historic and picturesque, with great outdoor opportunities and a tight-knit community.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  47. Best Place to Raise Kids in Virginia: Blacksburg
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Virginia: Blacksburg

    Nearby city: Roanoke
    Population: 41,383
    Median family income: $83,670
    Avg. school math score: 90.17 (State avg.: 88.11)
    Avg. school reading score: 93.42 (State avg.: 88.85)

    The No. 1 best place to raise your kids in the U.S. Between the Alleghany Mountains and the Blue Ridge, Blacksburg is an upscale college town that is home to Virginia Tech. The area is known for education and lays claim to seven great public schools for the younger students.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  48. Best Place to Raise Kids in Washington: Fircrest
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Washington: Fircrest

    Nearby city: Seattle
    Population: 6,206
    Median family income: $81,278
    Avg. school math score: 71.25 (State avg.: 55.96)
    Avg. school reading score: 81.83 (State avg.: 71.58)

    An upscale suburb of Tacoma, Seattle’s neighbor to the south, Fircrest is a community of green parks and quality schools. The cultural offerings of Tacoma and Seattle are nearby, just as are the endless outdoor opportunities of the Olympic Peninsula and the Cascade Mountains.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  49. Best Place to Raise Kids in West Virginia: Pleasant Valley
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in West Virginia: Pleasant Valley

    Nearby city: Fairmont
    Population: 3,184
    Median family income: $50,458
    Avg. school math score: 67.48 (State avg.: 42.99)
    Avg. school reading score: 65.76 (State avg.: 41.47)

    The city of Pleasant Valley has a rural feel compared with Fairmont, its larger neighbor to the north. The cultural offerings of Fairmont give those in Pleasant Valley opportunities to get out of the small town while still enjoying the feel of a small community, with parks and a volunteer fire department.

    Photographer: Getty Images
  50. Best Place to Raise Kids in Wisconsin: Sussex
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Wisconsin: Sussex

    Nearby city: Milwaukee
    Population: 9,004
    Median family income: $77,114
    Avg. school math score: 95.33 (State avg.: 81.81)
    Avg. school reading score: 94.19 (State avg.: 83.5)

    A rural suburb of Milwaukee, the Village of Sussex benefits from proximity to the larger city without losing its close sense of community. The town supports events that are fun for kids, such as Christmas tree lighting, Christmas caroling, and a hunt for a laminated picture of a turkey (the winner gets a gift basket).

    Photographer: Holly Cohn/Getty Images
  51. Best Place to Raise Kids in Wyoming: Dubois
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    Best Place to Raise Kids in Wyoming: Dubois

    Nearby city: Caspar
    Population: 1,092
    Median family income: $63,332
    Avg. school math score: 76.47 (State avg.: 70.34)
    Avg. school reading score: 82.35 (State avg.: 61.7)

    Known as the town “where real cowboys work and play,” Dubois is tucked between the Absaroka and Wind River Mountains along the Wind River. For kids and grown kids alike, the area is as good as it gets for the outdoors, with herds of elk, bighorn sheep, and deer within spitting distance of town. There are events such as rodeos, cultural offerings at the Dubois Museum, and great schools. Caspar, the nearest big city (pop. 55,000), is more than a three-hour drive east on U.S. Highway 26.

    Photographer: Steve Casimiro/Getty Images