The Top 10 Cities in the US for Kids Events and Activities

Our first ranking of 50 US cities to Educate, Entertain and Exhaust your kids.

By Eric Cohen - Macaroni Dad September 2, 2014

Each week we list thousands of events and activities for kids and families in hundreds of communities across the US, and that led our team to a discussion about what city is the best for family events and activities. And as they used to say “Enquiring minds want to know”, so we did some research. We took the top 50 cities in America, then looked at things we often include and share with our readers, such as story time at the library, events at local parks, touring shows like Disney on Ice and the Circus, and what’s happening at children’s museums and theaters.

We then counted up all these things as a whole, on a per capita basis, and mashed it all together to come up with the following results. Oh, and by the way, we are moms and dads, not statisticians, if you feel that your city was robbed, let us know and share with others how great it is. Counting up from #50 to #1, here we go:

50 San Francisco, Calif: San Francisco was a bit of a surprise, but since we couldn’t count the Golden Gate Bridge and Girardelli Chocolate Factory, down it slipped.

49. Las Vegas, Nev: Las Vegas was no surprise. Sorry, but the home of Zumanity – Cirque du Soleil’s naughty show, was not expected to be high on our list. 

48. Arlington TX: This town has practically nothing for kids, no children’s museum, no children’s theater, and was middling on everything else. It’s close to Dallas, so you can find stuff to do, but you’ll have to load up the car and listen to the Frozen soundtrack for the 200th time.

47. San Jose, Calif.          

46. Jacksonville, Fla.       

45. Miami, Fla.  

44. Memphis, Tenn.       

43. Tucson, Ariz.              

42. Detroit, Mich.            

41. Colorado Springs, Colo.         

40. Virginia Beach, Va.   

39. Dallas, Tex. 

38. Columbus, Ohio        

37. Cleveland, Ohio        

36. Atlanta, Ga.

35. Omaha, Nebr.           

34. Indianapolis, Ind.     

33. Tulsa, Okla. 

32. Fort Worth, Tex.       

31. Portland, Ore.           

30. Nashville-Davidson, Tenn.

29. Los Angeles, Calif.    

28. Albuquerque, N.M.

27. Seattle, Wash.           

26. Philadelphia, Pa.       

25. Phoenix, Ariz.            

24. Oakland, Calif.           

23. Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.        

22. San Antonio, Tex.    

21. New York, N.Y.          

20. Washington, DC        

19. Milwaukee, Wis.      

18. Kansas City, Mo.       

17. Houston, Tex.            

16. Sacramento, Calif.   

15. Minneapolis, Minn. 

14. Fresno, Calif.              

13. El Paso Tex.   

12. Chicago, Ill. 

11. San Diego, Calif.

10. Wichita, Kan. Wichita made it to the top 10 on the strength of several local children’s museum’s & theaters. For a small city it has several solid facilities including Exploration Place and the Children’s Theater at Crown Uptown Theater.

9. Baltimore, Md.

8. Mesa, Az. Despite a dearth of Libraries, Mesa was one of the lowest on a per capita basis along with neighboring Phoenix (what, it’s too hot to read?). Mesa made it to the top 10 thanks to a good number of touring shows that hit town. On a per capita basis, it’s one of the best places to score front row seats to the Little Mermaid on Ice.


7. Oklahoma City, Ok

6. Charlotte, N.C.            

5. Long Beach, Calif.       

4. Denver, Co. Denver was high in the list thanks to an all-around solid score on most categories. The only weak point was city parks, but with the Rocky Mountains in your backyard, we can forgive Denver for skimping a bit on parks.

3. Austin, Tex. Another town with few libraries (what is it with heat and no libraries?), but great Children’s Museums, like the Thinkery (best name ever!) put Austin in the top three.

2. Boston, Mass. This was one of the ones we expected. The Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest of its kind in the World. Boston is awash in libraries, has plenty of touring shows passing through and has a vibrant children’s theater scene.             

1. Raleigh, N.C. The surprise number one city for family events and activities rose to the occasion thanks to plenty of touring shows coming through, a decent amount of libraries and a robust children’s theater scene. The Raleigh ACT (Area Children’s Theater) and Youth Series at the Raleigh Little Theater, offer entertainment and education for kids in the area. And there’s Marbles Kids Museum, ample parks and a decent number of libraries.