America's 10 Best Places to Grow Up
Low crime, strong schools, green spaces, and fun activities are key ingredients for a happy childhood
If you could create the ideal community to raise a child in, what ingredients would you include? First off, you’d probably want a low crime rate.
A strong school system would also be key. From there, you’d need lots of other children, expansive green spaces to play in, and plenty of nearby family events. Toss in an abundance of artistic and recreational activities, and all of a sudden you’ve got one heck of a place to grow up. At U.S. News, we wanted to find out if any communities like that already existed—and if so, where they were located. So we dug into our database of 2,000 different places all across the country and pinpointed the locales that met these criteria. We then examined these communities more closely to determine which places offered the best combination of safe neighborhoods, fun activities, and top-notch educators. Our selections appear below, in our list of America’s 10 Best Places to Grow Up:
Virginia Beach, Va.
Junior adventurers will love Virginia Beach, Va. This community of 434,000 residents in the southeastern part of the state has a low crime rate, a solid school system, and 35 miles of majestic beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. “It’s kind of neat to be able to come home from work, make a call to my wife or son, grab a bucket of chicken or some sandwiches, and then go out on the bay and have dinner,” says Greg Ward, who works for a marketing firm that represents the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Children can explore an impressive ecosystem of threatened and endangered species—including bald eagles and loggerhead sea turtles—in the 9,000-acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The warm summers and mild winters provide plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, and picnic your way through the 19 miles of scenic trails over at First Landing State Park. And after checking out the sand tiger sharks and the cow-nose rays at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, children can catch an educational picture in its 3-D IMAX theater.
And in early September, the community is launching an online resource—VBparents.com—designed to keep parents plugged in to local health and school news, while ensuring that they are up-to-date on all of the community activities available to their kids. “There are lots of great parenting resources out there. This one is going to be specific to raising your child and your family within the city of Virginia Beach,” says Jenefer Snyder, city of Virginia Beach GrowSmart coordinator. “We are constantly going to be connecting it back to community services, activities, events, programs, and classes.”
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- More about Virginia Beach from USA Today
- Virginia's Beaches
- Visit Our Community and School Links Page
- Full Top 10 Article from USA Today