Most Kid-Friendly Cities to Visit in 2017
Kids love it when there’s a lot to do. They are ever-wary of the dreaded “B-word”: boredom. Luckily, when it comes to big cities in the U.S., families will find there is no shortage of things to do. From parks, to museums, to kid-friendly tours; U.S. cities run the gamut of family-friendly activities. But you have to know where to go. Some cities are just better suited for bringing the whole family. Certain destinations offer amenities that can make family travel easier, like kid-friendly hotels and restaurants. RewardExpert took a look at all of these factors to determine the most kid-friendly U.S. cities.
We compared 53 of the largest cities in the country and evaluated them on 16 key metrics across three categories: kid-friendly recreation, city profile, and affordability. Using this data we determined a full ranking of the the most child-friendly cities in the country.
Top 5 Kid-Friendly Destinations
96.2San Diego, CA
The weather, beaches, and attractions put San Diego at number one on our list. As the home to Legoland, San Diego is a perfect destination for kids. Explore Balboa Park, a place where kids can visit the zoo, the park’s gardens, or one of their 14 museums all in a single afternoon. Take a trip to the Torrey Pines State Reserve. With stunnings views and hiking for all levels, visitors would appreciate the natural wonders of California. Don’t forget to catch some waves at the beach, too!
78.1San Francisco, CA
San Francisco comes in second on our list. Any trip to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without visiting Golden Gate Park. With over 1,000 acres to explore, and free to the public, Golden Gate Park is a wonderful destination for children. Next up, swing by the city’s science museum, the Exploratorium. This museum is a playground for ideas. The exploratorium offers hundreds of exhibits in areas of science, art and human perception. Don’t forget to hop on the trolley for a ride. The city is easy to get around with public transportation. According to our data, San Francisco has a transit score of 80.4, which is second best overall.
Bring the kids to Portland and chill out! Portland is the perfect mix of being a lively city without the stress. According to our data, Portland is an easy city to get around via public transit, biking, or walking. Furthermore, it has so many things for kids to do. When you’re there, hit up Playdate PDX. The kids will have a blast getting lost in this 7,500 square foot indoor play place, specifically for children. Afterwards, take the kids to Oaks Amusement Park. Oaks is one of the oldest, continuously operating amusement parks in the country. Take a stroll through Washington Park, home to one of the biggest playgrounds in the city. Lastly, if your kids work up a sweat after all that fun, cool off at the Mt. Scott Community Center and Indoor Pool. This place is more than just a pool, it’s also an indoor roller skating rink.
Atlanta comes in at number four on our list and first of the southern cities. According to our findings, Atlanta is also less expensive than other cities in the top ten. On average, a three star hotel room costs $130.0 per night, and Atlanta’s restaurants are less expensive. Atlanta is known for being home to LegoLand and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Each of those attractions will have your kids building, thinking, and creating - all while having loads of fun. Take the family to the Chattahooche Nature Center. Located along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the 127-acre park and nature preserve offers hiking, canoeing, and more. Lastly, hit up the Stone Mountain Park. Listed in Frommer’s “500 Places to Visit with Your Kids Before They Grow Up,” this is Georgia’s number 1 attraction. Hike to the top of a rock, take a ride aboard the scenic railroad, or get soaked at Geyser Towers.
The nation’s capital ranks fifth on our list of kid-friendly cities. Washington D.C. has the most kid friendly museums per capita in the country. Check out the National Museum of Natural History or the International Spy Museum. Also, the National Air & Space Museum offers daily programs involving science experimentation. The kids are bound to have a wonderful time learning and engaging with science, history, and art. Take a walk through the U.S. Botanic Garden. Send the kids through a scavenger hunt, identifying plants and getting their passports stamped. Finally, don’t forget about the national monuments. Make sure the kids say hi to Honest Abe. Most of the family friendly attractions in D.C. are free, so there’s plenty of opportunity to catch everything without draining your budget.
Best Cities for…
San Diego, CA - Beautiful San Diego has the most playgrounds per capita in the country. The city has 22 playgrounds per 10,000 residents, which means there’s ample opportunity for kids to have a good romp and play outside. The pleasant weather makes this city is a wonderful destination any time of the year, so families from up north can escape the tundra for the beach.
Tampa, FL - Tampa has the most kid-friendly hotels as a share of total hotels. These hotels have a variety of programs specifically catered to children, like child care, tours, performances, workshops, and classes for kids. Tampa had the most hotels with amenities geared towards children of all the cities we analyzed.
Washington, D.C. - Grab a pencil and bring the kids to Washington D.C.. The nation’s capital comes in first with the most kid-friendly museums. With 30 museums per ten thousand residents, the kids are able to try their hand as scientists, historians, or artists. Who knows? Perhaps a visit to D.C. will inspire your child to be the President. Our pick? Check out the National Children's Museum. It’s bound to be a good time for the whole family.
Miami, FL - Who’s first in line for the rollercoaster? Bring the kids to Miami for amusement parks! Miami has the most amusement parks per capita of the cities we analyzed. With 16 parks per ten thousand residents, Miami is a dynamite city for children. We recommend taking the kids to Jungle Island. The combination of rides and safari will amaze everyone in the family!
Atlanta, GA - Any picky eaters in your crew? Parents know that it can be a challenge to find restaurants that will satisfy the whole family. You certainly won’t have that problem in Atlanta. We ran the numbers and Atlanta, GA has 180 kid-friendly restaurants per ten thousand residents, which means there’s a plenty of choices for a family on vacation. We recommend Osteria 832; a laid-back neighborhood restaurant that is known for its tasty food and cheap kid meals.
|#||City & State||Score||CITY PROFILE||AFFORDABILITY||KID-FRIENDLY RECREATION|
|1||San Diego, CA|
|2||San Francisco, CA|
|11||St. Louis, MO|
|14||Los Angeles, CA|
|17||San Jose, CA|
|22||Las Vegas, NV|
|23||New York, NY|
|26||Virginia Beach, VA|
|29||Kansas City, MO|
|30||Oklahoma City, OK|
|31||New Orleans, LA|
|36||San Antonio, TX|
|42||Corpus Christi, TX|
|46||El Paso, TX|
|48||Colorado Springs, CO|
To help travelers discover which U.S. cities are best to visit with their children in 2017, RewardExpert compared U.S. cities with more than 300,000 residents across three key dimensions: 1) City Profile, 2) Affordability, and 3) Kid-Friendly Recreation.
RewardExpert used the U.S. Census definition of a metropolitan area. The Census may include the some of the surrounding area when calculating data relevant to the cities we examined.
We first identified 17 relevant metrics that are listed below in their respective dimensions and with their corresponding weights. Each metric was given a value between 0 and 100, wherein 100 represents the most favorable conditions for travel and 0 the least.
Finally, we calculated the overall score for each city using the weighted average across all metrics and ranked the cities accordingly.
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yelp, Numbeo, Hotels.com, Walk Score, and Kelly Norton.