What kinds of cities make families happy? The answer, of course, is complicated. Speed dating Arevalo fun first assumption: kids like being around other kids.
So we looked for cities where a high percentage of the population is under age 18. The Trust for Public Land ranks Minneapolis the number-one city in the country for parks. Indeed, 20 percent of the total land is in parks—some 6,700 acres—and 94 percent of city residents live within a ten-minute walk to a park. Minnehaha Park, overlooking the Mississippi River, contains family-friendly bike paths and forested riverside walking trails that snake along limestone bluffs. Then there are the lakes, some 750 of them, including the Chain of Lakes, which offers everything from swimming and sailing to logrolling and canoeing. Families ready for bigger water adventures can make the four-hour drive north to the 1.
1-million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas east of the Rockies. Largely thanks to Lance Armstrong, Austin has developed a reputation as a cyclist’s town—a label that’s endured even after the seven-time Tour de France champion’s fall from grace. Designated as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists since 2007, more than half of Austin’s streets have dedicated bicycle lanes. Lesser known is the fact that Austin is also a great all-around adventure-sports town.
The loop trails bordering 416-acre Lady Bird Lake are ground zero for Austin’s vibrant road-running community, while the lake itself has become a hot spot for stand-up paddleboarding. It starts with the biking, of course. Portland, which has been leading the country’s cycling lifestyle revolution, boasts 181 miles of bike lanes, some 80 miles of off-street bike paths, and the highest percentage of bike commuters of any large city in the U. 6 percent, compared to the average of 0. There are some 5,000 public bike racks in town. Salt Lake’s access to mountain sports. Within 45 minutes are four of the best ski areas in the world: Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton.
Then there are the endless backcountry skiing lines in the nearby Wasatch Mountains. Mountain bikers have their pick of numerous singletrack trails in the canyons east of town, which also contain hundreds of rock-climbing routes. The Middle and Lower Provo rivers offer blue-ribbon trout fishing. Blame it on the Boston Marathon, but this city of diehard pro-ball sports fans is also arguably the running capital of the United States.
From post-college racing teams to women-only groups, more than a dozen running clubs call Boston home. You can count on a 5- or 10K almost any weekend, or just log miles on the 18-mile Charles River path. Families can do much more than run in Boston, of course. More than 15 percent of city land is in parks. One of the largest, 527-acre Franklin Park, is a hub for pick-up soccer games, tennis, cycling, and, well, yes, running—since 1997, the Boston Middle School Cross Country Championships have been held here.
Why are both the United States Olympic Training Center and Carmichael Training Systems, an elite coaching operation, based in Colorado Springs? Maybe it’s the hundreds of miles of multi-use trails within a ten-mile radius of town. Maybe it’s 14,117-foot Pikes Peak right next door. One way to get the next generation amped up about cycling: show them how the best bikes in the world are made. Waterford Precision Cycles factory, which produces exquisite steel-frame bikes at its factory 90 minutes east. Off the bike, the Hoofer Youth Program, backed by the University of Wisconsin, offers summertime courses in sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, and kayaking for kids ages 10 to 18 on Lake Mendota.
Come winter, six city parks boast a combined 20 miles of signed and groomed cross-country ski trails. New Mexico’s largest city doesn’t feel big at all. One reason is the 16-mile multi-use Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs along the Rio Grande. Another is the U-Mound, a top-rated bouldering site on the eastern edge of town. And with as many clear days a year as Colorado’s Front Range but with a lower cost of living, Albuquerque is a particularly inviting place to raise an active family.
The most diverse playground of the bunch is Rock Creek Park, which has 40 miles of hiking trails, a 25-mile forested road-biking route, and, when the creek is high, Class III and IV whitewater for experienced kayakers. Though it’s very much a wonky town dominated by people working in politics, D. Set in the Northern Rockies with more than 4,300 acres of open space, a whitewater park, and a ski area just outside of town, Boise is a place you move to for outdoor fun. The 25-mile-long Greenbelt, which follows the Boise River through the heart of the city, links riverside parks through a network of biking and walking paths. The Boise River Park, a longtime dream of local paddlers that opened in 2012, has two surfing waves close to Main Street. What kinds of cities make families happy? The answer, of course, is complicated.