Austinites looking to create lasting memories with their families don’t need to look further than their own state. In a new report from lawn care company Lawn Love, Austin scored No. 29 in the Best Cities for Kid-Friendly Vacations, behind Houston (No. 8), San Antonio (No. 10), and Dallas (No. 11), and ahead of Fort Worth (No. 44).
200 of America’s largest cities were ranked using 23 metrics, including affordability, family-friendly accommodations, attractions, transportation options, and more. Austin did better than average on most metrics except affordability (No. 115 of 200). In an odd order for any Austinite that's tried to take a bus to a cool bar, the city scored best for "getting around" or ease of transportation (No. 30), followed closely by "having fun" (No. 36).
Houston, the highest rated Texas city, was classified as the third safest city for kid-friendly vacations, and earned the No. 6 spot in the category of “getting around." In the category of most amusement and theme parks, Houston ranked No. 5 in a three-way tie with San Diego, California and Denver, Colorado. With fun attractions like the Houston Funplex or Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown, it’s not hard to see the magnetism for children. Houston also tied at No. 3 with Baltimore, Maryland in the category of most children’s hospitals.
San Antonio was hot on Houston's heels, just making the top 10 with its highest ranking in "having fun" (No. 5), the highest of any Texas city. It also had a high ranking in safety (No. 8), and all its scores were above average, including the lowest ranking in "eating" (No. 97). The Central and Southern Texas city competed with the Northern Texas city of Dallas, which did best in "staying" or the number of family-friendly accommodations (No. 11), price notwithstanding. It also did well in "having fun" and safety (both No. 14).
Fort Worth lagged behind these four Texas counterparts, but still made the 78th percentile and beat cities like Killeen (the worst in Texas at No. 192). It did very well in "staying" (No. 16) and better than average in all other metrics than eating (No. 116), which sees to have dragged the overall ranking down significantly.
When planning your next vacation, Christina Sharp, faculty member at MiraCosta College in California, says there are no rules that say all family members have to agree on what to do.
"Let folks carve out time for themselves and the activities they want to do and ensure that there are activities for everyone to do together," she suggests. "My 92-year-old father-in-law didn’t want to go to the beach – and that was fine. We went while he read. But we all did take walks, eat meals, and watch TV together – and it was wonderful."
Sharp also recommends families plan ahead when deciding their mode of travel, and to limit use of technology once at their destination in order to connect and bond with each other.
The full top 10 list of best US cities for kid-friendly vacations includes:
- No. 1, New York City, New York
- No. 2, Orlando, Florida
- No. 3, Miami, Florida
- No. 4, Las Vegas, Nevada
- No. 5, Chicago, Illinois
- No. 6, Tampa, Florida
- No. 7, San Francisco, California
- No. 8, Houston, Texas
- No. 9, Los Angeles, California
- No. 10, San Antonio, Texas
More information about Lawn Love’s report can be found at lawnlove.com.