Many young, working parents—tired of wheeling strollers onto the subway—have considered leaving the big city for a more family-friendly place, even as urban living gains popularity. For those interested in small-town living, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Rankings evaluated more than 3,200 places nationwide with populations from 5,000 to 50,000. We looked at such metrics as public school performance, safety, housing costs, commute time, poverty, adults’ educational attainment, share of households with children, and diversity. To gauge the local job market, we also weighed median income and unemployment. The data comes from GreatSchools.org, the FBI, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list excludes places where the median family income exceeds $115,866, the lower limit for the wealthiest 20 percent of U.S. families. Which is the best town in your state?

Photograph by Mike Harrington/Getty Images

Many young, working parents—tired of wheeling strollers onto the subway—have considered leaving the big city for a more family-friendly place, even as urban living gains popularity. For those interested in small-town living, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Rankings evaluated more than 3,200 places nationwide with populations from 5,000 to 50,000. We looked at such metrics as public school performance, safety, housing costs, commute time, poverty, adults’ educational attainment, share of households with children, and diversity. To gauge the local job market, we also weighed median income and unemployment. The data comes from GreatSchools.org, the FBI, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list excludes places where the median family income exceeds $115,866, the lower limit for the wealthiest 20 percent of U.S. families. Which is the best town in your state?

Photograph by Mike Harrington/Getty Images

The Best Places to Raise Kids 2013

Finding the Best in Small Towns
Finding the Best in Small Towns

Many young, working parents—tired of wheeling strollers onto the subway—have considered leaving the big city for a more family-friendly place, even as urban living gains popularity. For those interested in small-town living, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg Rankings evaluated more than 3,200 places nationwide with populations from 5,000 to 50,000. We looked at such metrics as public school performance, safety, housing costs, commute time, poverty, adults’ educational attainment, share of households with children, and diversity. To gauge the local job market, we also weighed median income and unemployment. The data comes from GreatSchools.org, the FBI, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list excludes places where the median family income exceeds $115,866, the lower limit for the wealthiest 20 percent of U.S. families. Which is the best town in your state?

Photograph by Mike Harrington/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Alabama: Pelham
Best Place to Raise Kids in Alabama: Pelham
Population: 20,878
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $82,542
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19%
County unemployment rate: 5.4%
Nearby city: Birmingham

This Birmingham suburb is home to the Alabama State Fair, where this summer, participants in the agricultural club 4-H showed off their rabbits and dairy goats in a livestock contest. While waiting for next year’s fair, kids can hike, bike, or ride horses at Pelham’s Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest state park.
Photograph by Corey Nolen/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Alaska: Palmer
Best Place to Raise Kids in Alaska: Palmer
Population: 5,891
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $75,000
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.2%
County unemployment rate: 6.5%
Nearby city: Anchorage

Palmer, in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley, fosters world-record-size veggies such as giant cabbages thanks to long summer days. When not digging up turnips the size of boulders, children attend school in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough District alongside friends from other towns. Only Palmer, though, can lay claim to the annual early-December Colony Christmas celebration, featuring actual reindeer.
Photograph by Bill Roth/Anchorge Daily News/MCT via Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Arizona: Oro Valley
Best Place to Raise Kids in Arizona: Oro Valley
Population: 40,422
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $83,409
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.1%
County unemployment rate: 7.1%
Nearby city: Tucson

This Arizona burg isn’t just for snowbirds escaping the cold North—it’s become a major base for biotech firms, fueled by research at nearby Tucson’s University of Arizona and the town’s own Innovation Park.
Photograph by Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Arkansas: Bella Vista
Best Place to Raise Kids in Arkansas: Bella Vista
Population: 25,581
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $68,552
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 16.1%
County unemployment rate: 5.1%
Nearby city: Fayetteville

Originally a planned retirement community, Bella Vista is no longer just for Grandma and Grandpa. Many families have moved in. Children can enjoy fishing in the town’s seven lakes. The district’s Bentonville High School offers an international baccalaureate program and various learning tracks based on students’ interests.
Photograph by Frank Krahmer/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in California: Walnut
Best Place to Raise Kids in California: Walnut
Population: 29,269
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $106,284
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 25.3%
County unemployment rate: 10.3%
Nearby city: Los Angeles

This city in Los Angeles County, with a combined 90 acres of parks, has more natural beauty than its big-city neighbors. Families with younger children can enjoy the annual Walnut Family Festival, with a parade and car show.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Colorado: Louisville
Best Place to Raise Kids in Colorado: Louisville
Population: 18,495
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $103,626
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.5%
County unemployment rate: 5.7%
Nearby city: Boulder

Founded as a 19th century mining community, Louisville is now home to a number of high-tech companies in the Colorado Technology Center. The town has a Miners Memorial in front of City Hall to commemorate the miners who founded the city. One piece of odd trivia: Ghost hunters believe specters haunt the tunnels under the town, though some of the tunnels have, in fact, caved in.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Connecticut: Canton
Best Place to Raise Kids in Connecticut: Canton
Population: 10,139
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $105,201
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.7%
County unemployment rate: 9%
Nearby city: Hartford

This town in the heart of the affluent Farmington Valley is divided by the Farmington River, popular among kayakers. It offers a wealth of New England history, with the Canton Historical Museum displaying Victorian decor and tools, for instance. And parents with teens, take heart: Collinsville, a village within Canton, has been recognized for its “coolness,” as it’s transitioned from a factory town to millennial-friendly hangout.
Photograph by Bob Child/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Delaware: Newark
Best Place to Raise Kids in Delaware: Newark
Population: 31,293
GreatSchools city score: 6
Median family income: $95,788
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18%
County unemployment rate: 6.6%
Nearby city: Wilmington

Newark belongs to the Christina School District, the state’s largest. The city’s K-8 charter school and several elementary schools are rated highly by GreatSchools. Home to the University of Delaware, Newark is a world center for figure skating thanks to the university’s facilities.
Photograph by /Bob Child/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Florida: Oviedo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Florida: Oviedo
Population: 32,834
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $90,772
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.8%
County unemployment rate: 7.3%
Nearby city: Orlando

Oviedo has an unusual claim to fame: wild chickens, which roam the streets and are both amusing and menacing to drivers. And though the fowl have inspired the annual Charity Chicken Race—where kids from the community dress as birds with attitude—there’s more to Oviedo than cluckers. Four of the town’s public elementary schools earned a 10 from GreatSchools; the fifth had to settle for a 9.
Photograph by George Skene/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Georgia: Peachtree City
Best Place to Raise Kids in Georgia: Peachtree City
Population: 34,444
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $102,101
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.4%
County unemployment rate: 7.1%
Nearby city: Atlanta

You don’t need a car to get around Peachtree City. Fayette County’s largest city is cobwebbed with multi-use paths, and locals use golf carts to move about (you have to be 12 to operate a cart, accompanied by an adult). Home to the artificial Lake Peachtree, this city takes the outdoors seriously: It was named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Hawaii: Mililani
Best Place to Raise Kids in Hawaii: Mililani
Population: 28,682
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $100,436
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23%
County unemployment rate: 5%
Nearby city: Honolulu

Mililani was built on former plantation lands as a planned community in the 1960s. Over time, the town has grown, and a rigorous town association has kept residences looking uniform. Mililani offers recreation centers with pools and an 18-hole golf course open to the public.
Photograph by Douglas Peebles/CORBIS
Best Place to Raise Kids in Idaho: Moscow
Best Place to Raise Kids in Idaho: Moscow
Population: 23,475
GreatSchools city score: 7
Median family income: $53,498
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.5%
County unemployment rate: 5.9%
Nearby city: Spokane, Wash.

Moscow is dominated by collegians from the University of Idaho. Residents can enjoy annual celebrations such as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and the Renaissance Fair, or take a spin on the Latah Trail, an extensive bike path that connects Moscow to neighboring Troy.
Photograph by Bern Harrison via Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Illinois: Geneva
Best Place to Raise Kids in Illinois: Geneva
Population: 21,550
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $104,848
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 22.6%
County unemployment rate: 7.8%
Nearby city: Chicago

This suburb on the outskirts of Chicagoland has many charms. The Fox River Trail allows kids and parents to bike along the waterfront, and the Kane County Cougars, affiliated with the Cubs, play minor league ball at Fifth Third Bank (FITB) Ballpark. Geneva also boasts well-maintained homes with diverse architectural styles, built by early settlers from New England.
Photograph by Barry Winiker/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Indiana: St. John
Best Place to Raise Kids in Indiana: St. John
Population: 14,205
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $103,662
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.8%
County unemployment rate: 8.7%
Nearby city: Chicago

St. John has invested a lot in parks and outdoor space, which have a number of playgrounds, soccer fields, and ponds. The town, close to the Illinois border and Chicago’s endless amenities, maintains a rural feel with activities such as the Community Corn Roast and a Lions Club Candlelight Bowling Fundraiser.
Courtesy Town of St.John
Best Place to Raise Kids in Iowa: Ankeny
Best Place to Raise Kids in Iowa: Ankeny
Population: 43,767
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $87,152
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.4%
County unemployment rate: 4.8%
Nearby city: Des Moines

This onetime coal-mining community keeps history alive with the High Trestle Trail, a walking and biking trail elevated along an old freight-train route. Ankeny is growing: A new high school is set to open in August 2013, joining the town’s high-performing Ankeny High School.
Photograph by Buena Vista/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Kansas: Lenexa
Best Place to Raise Kids in Kansas: Lenexa

Population: 47,743
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $95,496
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19%
County unemployment rate: 4.8%
Nearby city: Kansas City, Mo.

As one might expect of a Kansas City suburb, Lenexa loves its barbecue. Each year, the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle draws contestants, judges, and spectators gawking at complicated smoking devices. A few months later, Lenexa holds an annual Spinach Festival. On regular days, kids can stay active after school at the Lenexa Community Center.

Photograph by Jeff Julian/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Kentucky: Villa Hills
Best Place to Raise Kids in Kentucky: Villa Hills
Population: 7,548
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $98,423
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 17.7%
County unemployment rate: 6.9%
Nearby city: Cincinnati

Incorporated in 1962, Villa Hills began as farmland. Today the suburb offers an easy commute to Cincinnati for those looking to live outside the city but still be able to catch a Bengals game. The small town hosts a competitive Yard of the Year contest, sponsored by the Garden Club.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Louisiana: Mandeville
Best Place to Raise Kids in Louisiana: Mandeville
Population: 11,561
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $86,731
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19%
County unemployment rate: 5%
Nearby city: New Orleans

Across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, Mandeville has deep roots in jazz. At the historic Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall, opened in 1895, audiences still sit on wooden benches as they listen to tunes. Mandeville suffered some flood damage during Hurricane Katrina, but the city mandates that new construction in low-lying areas be in accord with flood elevation guidelines.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Maine: South Berwick
Best Place to Raise Kids in Maine: South Berwick
Population: 7,219
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $82,212
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.1%
County unemployment rate: 5.9%
Nearby city: Portland

On the very southern tip of Maine, South Berwick is home to Berwick Academy, one of the oldest preparatory schools in the U.S. It also has excellent public schools: Marshwood High School, for instance, earned a 10 rating from GreatSchools. For fun, the Strawberry Festival, featuring more than 20,000 visitors and more shortcake than imaginable, is held in June.
Photograph by Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Maryland: Hampstead
Best Place to Raise Kids in Maryland: Hampstead
Population: 6,266
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $86,750
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 22.7%
County unemployment rate: 5.7%
Nearby city: Baltimore

To accommodate a growing population, Hampstead has constructed a new high school, and added a bypass road to alleviate traffic and make downtown walkable. Animal lovers will appreciate that the bog along the highways is “mowed” by goats.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Massachusetts: Littleton
Best Place to Raise Kids in Massachusetts: Littleton
Population: 8,810
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $114,094
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.1%
County unemployment rate: 5.1%
Nearby city: Boston

Littleton is an arts-friendly town, home to Indian Hill Music, a nonprofit music education center featuring both a professional orchestra and music outreach programs, and a community theater that hosts summer activities for youth. But it’s not all play: Littleton Public Schools placed on the AP District Honor Roll for their results on College Board testing.
Photograph by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Michigan: Saline
Best Place to Raise Kids in Michigan: Saline
Population: 8,786
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $98,125
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 22%
County unemployment rate: 4.6%
Nearby city: Ann Arbor

Along with its sister city Brecon, in Wales, Saline hosts an annual Celtic Festival, full of traditional music and dance. The town particularly prides itself on being close to Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan provides athletic spectatorship and an arts scene.
Photograph by Tony Ding/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Minnesota: Rogers
Best Place to Raise Kids in Minnesota: Rogers
Population: 8,122
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $99,940
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.1%
County unemployment rate: 5.3%
Nearby city: Minneapolis

Both Rogers Middle School and Rogers Senior High School earned a 9 rating from GreatSchools, but growing up in the town isn’t solely about academics. The Rogers Youth Hockey Association and the high school’s Rogers Royals play hockey in the town’s activity center—which features public skating.
Photograph by Danielle Donders/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Mississippi: Brandon
Best Place to Raise Kids in Mississippi: Brandon
Population: 21,430
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $78,033
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 17.3
County unemployment rate: 5.2
Nearby city: Jackson

Brandon, which calls itself "A City of Growth and Stability," prides itself as being a source of political, legal, and educational talent for the state of Mississippi. The town has good schools, a total of six community parks, and 140 acres of parkland.
Photograph by Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Missouri: Ballwin
Best Place to Raise Kids in Missouri: Ballwin
Population: 30,431
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $98,044
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.3%
County unemployment rate: 6.5%
Nearby city: St. Louis

It’s hard to imagine needing further entertainment for kids when Ballwin already has a large public recreation center with a full gym, pool, and separate outdoor aquatic center. Still, more options are just a quick car ride away in St. Louis. True outdoorsmen can get their hunting fix close to home, as Ballwin allows deer hunting on private property.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Montana: Bozeman
Best Place to Raise Kids in Montana: Bozeman
Population: 37,070
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $63,397
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 21%
County unemployment rate: 5%
Nearby city: N/A

Kids in other cities may play in rec centers, but Bozeman is famous for its outdoor sports, including rafting and climbing. The city, home to Montana State University, is also driving distance to Yellowstone, where young children can learn about nature firsthand.
Photograph by Darrin Klimek/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Nebraska: Papillion
Best Place to Raise Kids in Nebraska: Papillion
Population: 18,966
GreatSchools city score: 6
Median family income: $83,342
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.7%
County unemployment rate: 3.7%
Nearby city: Omaha

Papillion’s Trumble Park Elementary has a GreatSchools score of 10, and two other elementary schools both earned an 8. The city has Papillion Days, an annual four-day festival with parade floats and marching bands. There are also sports leagues for kids as well as their parents.
Photograph by Nati Harnik/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Nevada: Boulder City
Best Place to Raise Kids in Nevada: Boulder City
Population: 15,318
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $77,500
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18.9%
County unemployment rate: 11.1%
Nearby city: Las Vegas

Boulder City, 20 miles from Las Vegas, is the only major city in Nevada where gambling has been banned. Leisure pursuits instead include visits to the Hoover Dam, as well as municipal golf courses and pools during the hot summer months. The city has felt the effects of the economic downturn, which has brought Nevada’s unemployment rate to 11.5 percent.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Hampshire: New Boston
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Hampshire: New Boston
Population: 5,215
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $100,404
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.3%
County unemployment rate: 5.5%
Nearby city: Nashua

Once a prominent spot for physical science research, New Boston dubbed itself the “Gravity Center of the World.” Although the Gravity Research Center has left town, enthusiasm for the sciences remains: For example, the local Goffstown High School robotics team headed to Manchester for regionals earlier this year. Residents more attuned to the agricultural sciences can take part in the yearly Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair.
Photograph by Bob Hammerstorm/The Nashua Telegraph via AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Jersey: Norwood
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Jersey: Norwood
Population: 5,710
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $102,933
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 30.3%
County unemployment rate: 8.1%
Nearby city: New York

A comfortable distance from the bustle of New York, Norwood is among northern New Jersey’s great school districts. The borough’s involved parent-teacher organization plans student programs and charity drives in which children can participate.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Mexico: Corrales
Best Place to Raise Kids in New Mexico: Corrales
Population: 8,281
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $103,250
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18.8%
County unemployment rate: 7%
Nearby city: Albuquerque

This wealthy village in one of New Mexico's booming metropolitan areas is surrounded by both nature (the Rio Grande) and cities (Albuquerque and Rio Rancho). Incorporated in 1971, Corrales organizes community activities such as a Fourth of July parade and a Harvest Festival, and also showcases its heritage and culture with its historic church and vibrant Main Street.
Photograph by Ray Laskowitz/SuperStock/Corbis
Best Place to Raise Kids in New York: Cornwall
Best Place to Raise Kids in New York: Cornwall
Population: 12,695
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $98,931
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 25.2%
County unemployment rate: 8%
Nearby city: New York

Cornwall is not your typical bedroom community. As the Palisades Parkway and New York State Thruway run nearby, but not through, the quaint town, Metro-North provides city access—without the bustle and traffic of Westchester. Cornwall may be best known for its majestic Storm King Mountain, beloved by hikers.
Photograph by Lee Ferris/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in North Carolina: Holly Springs
Best Place to Raise Kids in North Carolina: Holly Springs
Population: 23,316
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $99,421
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 21.1%
County unemployment rate: 6.8%
Nearby city: Raleigh

A suburb in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Holly Springs is near the area’s best academic institutions but still maintains a slightly slower pace of life. Drugmaker Novartis (NVS) manufactures vaccines in town, while the Arts Council is planning its first Community Arts Festival for Holly Springs families in 2013.
Courtesy Town of Holly Springs
Best Place to Raise Kids in North Dakota: Valley City
Best Place to Raise Kids in North Dakota: Valley City
Population: 6,563
GreatSchools city score: 7
Median family income: $62,406
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 14%
County unemployment rate: 2.5%
Nearby city: Fargo

With a population just north of 6,500, Valley City is actually among North Dakota’s largest cities. The town, about an hour’s drive from Fargo, escapes the pitfalls of rural life with a variety of sights breaking up the landscape, including 11 historic bridges and five city parks—one with a skating rink.
Photograph by Cavan Images/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Ohio: Solon
Best Place to Raise Kids in Ohio: Solon
Population: 23,046
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $113,613
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.4%
County unemployment rate: 6.2%
Nearby city: Cleveland

The citizens of this affluent Cleveland suburb have made the Solon City School District one of the best in the nation. Great amenities, such as a philharmonic orchestra, help bring the town together. Solon is also one of the few towns in the area still economically fit enough to provide free services like snowplowing and garbage pickup.
Courtesy Town of Solon
Best Place to Raise Kids in Oklahoma: Jenks
Best Place to Raise Kids in Oklahoma: Jenks
Population: 16,098
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $88,125
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18.7%
County unemployment rate: 5.5%
Nearby city: Tulsa

Jenks High School scored a 10 from GreatSchools, but the city’s educational resources don’t stop there. Jenks is also home to a population of sharks, octopi, and jellyfish at the Oklahoma Aquarium, one of the city’s major institutions for children.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Oregon: West Linn
Best Place to Raise Kids in Oregon: West Linn
Population: 24,917
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $111,534
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 24.6%
County unemployment rate: 7.5%
Nearby city: Portland

The West Linn-Wilsonville School district earned a spot on the College Board’s AP Honor Roll two years running, and the Model UN consistently debates global issues at statewide conferences. In their downtime, teens can check out artist markets and coffee shops in the historic Willamette neighborhood. This fast-growing city also recently became home to Wal-Mart's first West Coast Neighborhood Market.
Courtesy Town of West Linn
Best Place to Raise Kids in Pennsylvania: Cranberry Township
Best Place to Raise Kids in Pennsylvania: Cranberry Township
Population: 27,708
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $106,510
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.6%
County unemployment rate: 5.7%
Nearby city: Pittsburgh

Cranberry, as the locals call it, is no longer merely a bedroom community for Pittsburgh. The town's economy is buoyed by such companies as Westinghouse, Alcoa (AA), and Verizon, which have operations in the town. Cranberry has a public golf course and a water park, charming even the most committed urban émigrés from Pittsburgh.
Photograph by Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Rhode Island: Jamestown
Best Place to Raise Kids in Rhode Island: Jamestown
Population: 5,418
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $88,685
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20.7%
County unemployment rate: 8.2%
Nearby city: Providence

This quaint community on Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay still holds traditional New England town meetings. Although on an island, Jamestown is not totally isolated: High schoolers attend class in the strong North Kingstown district, on the mainland.
Photograph by Stew Milne/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in South Carolina: Fort Mill
Best Place to Raise Kids in South Carolina: Fort Mill
Population: 10,597
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $79,495
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.5%
County unemployment rate: 9.4%
Nearby city: Charlotte

Located at the northern edge of the state, Fort Mill is well-positioned to take advantage of all that nearby Charlotte has to offer. Its students, the beneficiaries of an excellent school system, are also surrounded by natural beauty, including Walter Y. Elisha Park (home to the South Carolina Strawberry Festival). They’re also encouraged to preserve nature through the town’s Adopt-a-Stream program.
Photograph by Siri Stafford/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in South Dakota: Brandon
Best Place to Raise Kids in South Dakota: Brandon
Population: 8,505
GreatSchools city score: 7
Median family income: $76,359
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 20%
County unemployment rate: 3.8%
Nearby city: Sioux Falls

When they’re not hitting the books at Brandon Valley High School, teens here can bundle up and hit Great Bear, an outdoor recreation park with skiing and tubing on the weekends.
Photograph by Lloyd B. Cunningham/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee: Signal Mountain
Best Place to Raise Kids in Tennessee: Signal Mountain
Population: 7,527
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $100,726
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 16.5%
County unemployment rate: 7.3%
Nearby city: Chattanooga

While some youngsters spend their summers in Signal Mountain rambling around the Cumberland Trail and Rainbow Lake, the artistically inclined can work with the Signal Mountain Playhouse to put on the annual summer show. Coming in summer 2013: The Wizard of Oz.
Photograph by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Texas: Helotes
Best Place to Raise Kids in Texas: Helotes
Population: 7,060
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $109,837
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18.6%
County unemployment rate: 6%
Nearby city: San Antonio

Like many Sunbelt cities, Helotes is new: It was a quiet farming area and stagecoach stop until incorporation in 1981. Despite rapid growth in the past three decades, Helotes retains its small-town charm, with a community band and free traditional “Ballet Folklorico” classes.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Utah: Centerville
Best Place to Raise Kids in Utah: Centerville
Population: 15,362
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $93,808
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18%
County unemployment rate: 4.9%
Nearby city: Salt Lake City

Children in Centerville, on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, can acquaint themselves with local politics early on. City Hall sponsors the Centerville City Youth Council, a service group complete with a “Youth Mayor” who works with city government to sponsor events.
Courtesy Google Street View
Best Place to Raise Kids in Vermont: Williston
Best Place to Raise Kids in Vermont: Williston
Population: 8,591
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $97,131
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 21.8%
County unemployment rate: 3.7%
Nearby city: Burlington

Williston’s motto: “Old town charm, new town spirit.” Near Vermont’s largest city, this small town has an annual town meeting and a music series in the Old Brick Church, a local landmark. Kids and parents can bird-watch and hike along the Allen Brook Nature Trail—and the University of Vermont is a quick drive away.
Photograph by Toby Talbot/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Virginia: Herndon
Best Place to Raise Kids in Virginia: Herndon
Population: 22,996
GreatSchools city score: 7
Median family income: $100,150
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 23.2%
County unemployment rate: 3.8%
Nearby city: Washington, D.C.

The Dulles Technology Corridor continues to fuel the economies of Northern Virginia, including Herndon. While near a tech hub, kids can also explore nature with town-operated “Little Nature Inspectors” classes or watch kid-friendly performances on the Town Green.
Photograph by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Washington: Maple Valley
Best Place to Raise Kids in Washington: Maple Valley
Population: 21,790
GreatSchools city score: 9
Median family income: $104,192
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 25.5%
County unemployment rate: 6.5%
Nearby city: Seattle

The city’s Lake Wilderness Lodge, built in the 1950s and winner of American Institute of Architecture and Washington State Design Awards, is on the state Register of Historic Places. Maple Valley’s Parks & Recreation Department also offers art classes for kids to keep them engaged.
Photograph by Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in West Virginia: Hurricane
Best Place to Raise Kids in West Virginia: Hurricane
Population: 6,288
GreatSchools city score: 8
Median family income: $66,989
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 15.6%
County unemployment rate: 5.1%
Nearby city: Charleston

Don’t worry, Hurricane’s name doesn't come from frequent storms but from 1770s surveyors who noted a distinctive bend in the trees that seemed to have been struck by a hurricane. The climate on Main Street, full of small shops and a gazebo, is usually quite peaceful. The town operates a water park for kids and has won prizes from the Environmental Protection Agency for the quality of its drinking water.
Photograph by James Crisp/AP Photo
Best Place to Raise Kids in Wisconsin: Cedarburg
Best Place to Raise Kids in Wisconsin: Cedarburg
Population: 11,417
GreatSchools city score: 10
Median family income: $92,202
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 19.3%
County unemployment rate: 4.7%
Nearby city: Milwaukee

Cedarburg’s untouched Main Street has become a major attraction for out-of-towners. Tourism helps bolster a thriving community arts scene, including a performing arts center. Year-round festivals celebrate winter, strawberry season, German heritage, and the harvest, to name a few examples.
Photograph by Jonathan Kirn/Getty Images
Best Place to Raise Kids in Wyoming: Laramie
Best Place to Raise Kids in Wyoming: Laramie
Population: 30,158
GreatSchools city score: 7
Median family income: $69,775
Housing costs as a percentage of income: 18.5%
County unemployment rate: 3.5%
Nearby city: Cheyenne

Home to the University of Wyoming (Go, Cowboys!), Laramie provides college sports, a world-class Geological Museum (currently undergoing an expansion and renovation), and a Visual Arts Center and gallery that opened in 2012. Off-campus, families can enjoy biking, snowshoeing, and an annual ski race fundraiser.
Photograph by Jupiterimages/Getty Images