Virginia’s Five Best Cities for Families
Published Friday, March 8, 2013 Updated on Friday, March 8, 2013

Virginia’s Five Best Cities for Families

According to Parenting Magazine’s 2011 Best Cities for Families List, Virginia has five cities that are ideal for raising a family: Richmond, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Arlington, and Chesapeake. These locations were chosen based on low crime rates, parkland, jobs, manageable home prices, and fantastic schools. For families new to Virginia or for those that are already living in the state but who are looking to move, each one of these cities has a number of wonderful activities, events, organizations, public spaces, and sites to offer you and your family. 

Richmond Richmond is home to a plethora of schools, museums, the arts, historic organizations, and recreational activities. People of all ages have a variety of places and events to explore around Richmond. The city provides it all. In terms of the arts, there is Virginia Jazz, Virginia Opera, Virginia Festivals and Screenings, the Firehouse Theater, the Barksdale Theatre, Richmond Ballet, Concert Ballet of Virginia, and Latin Ballet of Virginia. A great way for the public to get a taste of the arts in Richmond is to also attend the First Fridays Art Walk. For the academic and history buff, Richmond has a great selection of museums and historical organizations. There is the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Edgar Allen Poe Museum, the Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Richmond Children’s Museum. On Richmond’s historical side, the city is home to the Virginia Historical Society, Historic Richmond Cemeteries, Richmond’s Slave Trail, and Historic Richmond Tours. 

When in need of some fresh air, Richmond is a wonderful place for recreational activities. People of all ages have access to Richmond’s James River Park, Parks for Pets, Virginia Golf, Richmond International Raceway, Water Country USA, Virginia Capitol Trail, Adventure Challenge, Massanutten Ski Resort, and Wintergreen Ski Resort. There is much to do for any sports enthusiast or even just someone who enjoys being outside. On a side note, Richmond’s public school system consists of three preschools, twenty-seven elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools, thirteen specialty schools, and five colleges and universities. With a wide variety of things to do and places to settle into, Richmond has much to offer its residents and visitors! 

Virginia Beach Located on the water, Virginia Beach is a popular spot that many people flock to. The city has a good education system, the arts, historical organizations and recreational activities. Virginia Beach has a fantastic arts scene with a number of public art spots that surround the Boardwalk and the Oceanfront, as well as several performing art venues such as Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and Broadway at the Center. For those who seek a more structured and educational experience, Virginia Beach offers the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia and the Military Aviation Museum. There are also quite a gathering of Historical Museums such as the Francis Land House, Old Coast Guard Station, Ferry Plantation House, and the Union Kempsville Museum. In terms of the outdoors, Virginia Beach has several fantastic outdoor areas. The city has three main beach areas, five public golf courses, a number of parks and trails, kayaking, and recreation centers. On a side note, for those looking to settle in Virginia Beach, the city is home to a public school system of around fifty-five elementary schools, sixteen middle school, fifteen high schools, eight special purpose centers, and around 12 universities and colleges.  All in all, Virginia Beach has plenty of activities, venues, and areas to satisfy the young and the old. 

Norfolk Nestled on the coast of Virginia, the city of Norfolk is a beautiful place to reside and to visit. Norfolk has a slew of places and activities to engage all ages. For families, the city offers a great public school system with thirty-three elementary schools, eight middle schools, six high schools, and six colleges and universities. The city is also home to twelve private schools such as Christ the King School, The Williams School, Trinity Lutheran School, Alliance Christian School, and many others. To supplement a good education, it is always important to have exposure to the arts and culture. Norfolk in rich in both with the Attucks Theatre, Chrysler Museum of Art, d’Art Center, L. Douglas Wilder Performing Arts Center, the Virginia Arts Festival, Virginia Opera Association, Virginia Symphony, and the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center. In addition, there are also a number of museums and historical sites such as the Armed Forces Memorial, Battleship Wisconsin, Civil War Trails, Hermitage Foundation Museum, Hunter House Victorian Museum, Chrysler Museum of Art, the Charles Rollins Grandy House, Camp-Hubbard House, and the John Cary Weston House. The city of Norfolk is plentiful in its access to outdoor recreational activities.  Norfolk is home to beautiful golf courses such as Lake Wright Golf Course and Ocean View Golf Course, several parks and outdoor spaces such as Pagoda and Oriental Garden, Northside Park and Lakewood Park, and given the city’s proximity to the water, going to the beach and kayaking are also very popular.  Norfolk is truly a city that many people can and do call home. 

Arlington Located on the border between the District of Columbia and Virginia, the city of Arlington is close to our nation’s capital and a wealth of information and culture. Within its own boundaries, Arlington is a bustling hub of activities, events, and people. The city is packed with the arts and recreational activities. Arlington is home to fifty-six permanent public art projects and has hosted around forty temporary public art since 1987. Most of these art installations are focused around the following areas: Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Four Miles Run Corridor, Columbia Pike Corridor, and the Jefferson Davis Corridor. Local theatres and venues include the Lee Arts Center, Gunston Theatres One & Two, Artisphere Rosslyn Spectrum, Theatre on the Run, Arlington Art Gallery, George Mason University Art Gallery, and the Reeb Hall Artists Studio. On the other side, Arlington has a large number of parks and recreation space. The city has several community centers such as Carver, Eunston, Madison, Lubber Run, Dawson Terrace, playgrounds, around thirty-six miles of trails, nature centers, community gardens, a skate park, and over 1,100 acres of parks and open spaces. Lastly, twenty-two elementary school, six middle schools, four high schools, twelve colleges and universities, five special programs, and the non-public schools of the Arlington Diocese schools system serve Arlington residents. 

Chesapeake Situated near to the ocean, Chesapeake attracts a number of residents and visitors as it is close to quite a number of cultural and outdoor activities and venues. The city of Chesapeake is near to Chrysler Hall, Chrysler Museum of Art, the Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach, the American Theatre, and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. There are also a few festivals that take place in the area: the Virginia Arts Festival, Chesapeake Wine Festival, and Waterways Heritage Festival. On a more academic note, Chesapeake is near to the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation, Casemate Museum, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Hampton Road Naval Museum, the Jamestown Settlement, and Lee Hall Mansion. The city thrives on its arts and historical scenes as well as supporting a rich variety of parks and recreational activities. For those that enjoy the outdoors, Chesapeake offers a number of parks such as City Park, Deep Creek Park, Northwest River Park, and Oak Grove Lake Park. There is also an arboretum, Dismal Swam Canal Trail, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Dismal Swam Stomp Half Marathon Fun Forest, fishing, bird watching, kayaking, and campgrounds. For families planning to move to the area, Chesapeake offers a variety of great public school for parents and children to look at. There are twenty-eight elementary schools, ten middle schools, seven high schools, and two centers for specialized learning.