Best Family-Friendly Cities In America

The 4th of July is the biggest holiday in Upper Arlington, full of family activities.
The 4th of July is the biggest holiday in Upper Arlington, full of family activities. | Source

The Family Friendly Top 10 List

Scores of financial and economic journals and magazines advise the reading public every year about the cities and towns on their most recent Top 10 Lists of best places in the United States. Among the Top 10 Lists is a group of lists naming best cities and towns for raising a family.

Usually, we expect such lists from Forbes.com, Kiplinger, CNNMoney, and several other publications. In addition to them, Family Circle researches 3,335 cities and towns every year to find the best places for families, narrowing down the long list to only 10 greats.

During Summer 2013, the inner suburb called Upper Arlington in Columbus Ohio was named Number Three on the Family Circle list. Remarkably, NerdWallet.com ranked Upper Arlington as Number Eight on its most-educated city list at the same time as the honor awrded by Family Circle.

The city already rated a 10, the highest score possible, for their schools from Family Circle. However, among the Top 10 on that list, it shows the largest percentage of adults with bachelor's degrees (41.1%), with the smallest percentage of individuals who dropped out of high school (just 1.6%). UA High School maintains a jawdropping number of college preparatory classes within a large collge oriented program, along with many AP (Advanced Placement) classes. Commuity service is part of the curriculum and the school encourages youth to participate in community based leadership programs and career based education.

Upper Arlington (UA), Ohio

A markerUpper Arlington, Ohio -
Upper Arlington, OH, USA
[get directions]

Even though UA is a comparatively wealthy city, it still encompasses its own Enterprize Zone, where new business and new jobs are encouraged to further grow the economy. This ensures that a plan and a system of follow-up continues in place for growth, just as it does in larger-city urban areas.

UA is one of the thousands of places Family Circle looked where the median household income falls in the range of $55,000 - $150,000 annually. The UA median is actually $91,772 among a population of over 33,000 individuals.

Sperling's Best Places has data on UA as well. UA covers two zipcodes: 43220 and 43221. Homes are older on average than in the USA as a whole, 52 years compared to 35.1 years. Sperlig's finds a median home value of $274,000 compared to the $288.000 found by Family Circle. The largest amount of home construction was completed between 1950 and 1969.

The price of single-family housing is a factor that likely prevented UA from coming in Number One or Two in the Family Circle list. These houses are comparatively expensive. The New York City firm OnBoard Infomatics helped in the data gathering and analyses.

The US Census Bureau reports that in 2012, over 25% of Upper Arlington's population was under the age of 18, with over 34% of families having children. Estmates are that 60% or better of families contain a married couple.

Additional UA "Best" Rankings

Upper Arlington has been ranked also as:

  • Number 2 Safest City for Young Children - Crime rates are low overall.
  • Number 2 Manliest City, especailly in Sports
  • Number 11 Most Popular Holiday City
  • Number 11 Most Energetic City
  • Number 19 City of the Edge of Greatness

City Hall and Municipal Services. Fine arts are always on display inside.
City Hall and Municipal Services. Fine arts are always on display inside. | Source

The Family Circle Top 10 Cities

  1. Troy, Michigan
  2. Boulder City, Nevada
  3. Upper Arlington, Ohio
  4. Allen, Texas
  5. Marion, Iowa
  6. West Hartford, Connecticut
  7. Madison, Alabama
  8. Rio Rancho, New Mexico
  9. Suwanee, Georgia
  10. Morton, Illinois

Fourth of July Festivities

The entire city comes out for Fourth of July activities, families placing their lawn chairs along a 2-mile parade route up to several days ahead of time. They tie their chairs to nylon ropes lining the street by the sidewalks.

The parade lines up early July 4th at the Kingsdale Shopping Center, as it has for years. The shopping area has undergone substantial reconstruction and the addition of several new stores in the 2010s. Giant Eagle Marketplace is an major anchor, with exotic global food items, a pizzeria, a coffee shop, a large salad bar, and a hot food bar. Dozens of speciality seafood and meat cases fill an entire long wall and healthy foods fill much aisle space. It is an amusement park of a grocery store.

The shopping center itself has several other dining establishments, banks, hardware stores, real estate offices, taverns, and another anchor: Macy's. Bus stops are located around the entire center, and a park and ride is located beside Macy's. The staff at the Starbucks across the street is the friendliest in Columbus.

Fourth of July Celebrations

A markerTremont Shopping Center, Ohio -
Tremont Road, Upper Arlington, OH, USA
[get directions]

The long parade of float, bicycles, marching units, dancers, Veterans, and political campaigners travels south on Northwest Blvd., past the UA High School and the upscale Lane Avenue Shopping Center to North Star Road to end the route. After the parade, a number of activites are offered at the large Northam Park beside the UA Library.

Live music is offered all day and into the evening, with a community cook out, picnicking, magic shows, storytelling, concessions, face painting, contests, and many more family-friendly things to do. A large variety of fireworks are displayed after dark to wind down the activities of the day. This is the biggest celebration of the year.

The UA Civic Association is a major sponsor and organizer of family oriented events each year.

In June 1921, a new terminus was added to the Upper Arlington streetcar line at Miller Park. Today, it is a branch of the UA library.
In June 1921, a new terminus was added to the Upper Arlington streetcar line at Miller Park. Today, it is a branch of the UA library. | Source

Additional Family Events

  • Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival at Northam Park
  • Golden Bear Scare - a Halloween event.
  • Halloween Festival at Tremont Elementary School
  • Winter Festival and Tree Lighting
  • Spring Fling
  • Chamber of Comerce Taste of UA
  • UA Movies in the Park - Free movies shown in the city parks during the summer.
  • Juried Art Exhibitions at City Hall throughout the year

The Golden Bear

A taxedermied standing bear was displayed in the UA High School lobby for years to commemorate the city's most famous resident, golfer Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear.

The original founder, Jack Nicklaus still appears in some capacity or another at the huge PGA Muirfield Memorial Golf Tournament every spring.

Since its founding, he has designed dozens of golf courses around the world and participated in numerous tournaments. A museum is dedicated to him and his career on Olentangy River Road near The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.

Jack also founded the Nicklaus Children's Healthcare Foundation, representing the community and family spirit that is a part of his childhood home, Upper Arlington.

This is just a sall portion of his accomplishments and 2013 is his busiest year yet.

Muirfirled VIllages Golf Club: Home of the Memorial Tournament

A markerMuirfield Golf Course, Dublin OH -
Dublin Road, OH, USA
[get directions]

Other Famous People from Upper Arlington, Ohio

  • WCMH Channel 4TV Sports Announcer Jimmy Crum - Member of the hunting team that caught the Golden Bear that stood in the UA High School lobby.
  • Former OSU Head Football Coach Woody Hayes
  • Actress Beverly D'Angelo
  • Nobel Prize Winner George Smoot - Astrophysics
  • Chris Spielman - Former pro football player and advocate for cancer cures.
  • King Thompson - One of the founders of UA, a realty company still honors his name.

Seal in the floor in the rotunda of the State House, Columbus, Ohio
Seal in the floor in the rotunda of the State House, Columbus, Ohio | Source

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Comments 2 comments

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Great insight to the Best Family-Friendly Cities In America sounds wonderful.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@DDE - UA certainly has a lot of features and events! Thanks for reading.

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