Today’s kids have the opportunity to learn everything from coding to renewable-energy design at school. No matter what they’re learning, though, some things about children’s education never change. To fully develop their potential, kids need access to teachers, hands-on learning experiences and extracurricular activities.

What are the best places in the country to give your kids what they need, education wise? To find out, we dug through the data to find the best places in America for childhood education. Specifically, we looked at Census data for the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) on:

  • Teacher availability, as measured by the number of pre-school through middle-school teachers per 100 children.
  • Extracurricular opportunities, as measured by the number of centers offering lessons in music, art, drama, dance and sports (including martial arts, cheerleading and gymnastics) per 100 children. These centers offer opportunities in addition to the ones kids get through their schools.
  • Hands-on learning, as measured by the number of museums and historical sites per 100 children.
  • Childcare availability, as measured by the number of childcare facilities per 100 children. The availability of such facilities is essential for working parents of younger children.

Read on to discover the locations of America’s Best Places for Childhood Education.

allentown

12. Allentown, PA

Allentown scored higher than several of the higher-ranked metros on our list for childcare availability and hands-on learning. However, it had the second-lowest teacher availability and the lowest extracurricular activity opportunity of the top 12 metros.

Metro population: 826,260
Total number of children 14 and under: 148,727
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 6.74
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .05
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .019
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .19

northport

11. North Port, FL

North Port beat out twelfth-place Allentown on two metrics: teacher availability and extracurricular activity opportunities. This metro includes Bradenton, home to the IMG Academy, a training facility for athletes that includes a boarding school and youth camps. Tennis stars Andre Agassi and Jim Courier attended its predecessor: Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

Metro population: 722,784
Total number of children 14 and under: 103,358
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 8.39
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .069
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .016
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .14

syracuse

10. Syracuse, NY

Among the top 12 metros, Syracuse is third in terms of teacher availability and reasonably well across the other categories. Syracuse is also home to a science and technology museum with an IMAX theater and the Museum of International Masks and Puppets.

Metro population: 662,236
Total number of children 14 and under: 119,865
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.21
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .06
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .017
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .14

san-fran-musee

9. San Francisco, CA

The City by the Bay tops the rest of the top 12 in terms of childcare availability. And, it was fifth in terms of opportunities for extracurricular activities. But, it was at the bottom of the top 12 in terms of teacher availability. We gave that metric the most weight in our ranking, which hurt San Francisco’s standing.

Metro population: 4,466,251
Total number of children 14 and under: 772,661
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 6.42
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .073
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .014
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .21

rva

8. Richmond, VA

Richmond scores well across all categories, and does especially well in terms of teacher availability. The city’s museums and historical sites steep kids in everything from the Civil War to railroads to fine arts and architecture; there is even a Children’s Museum of Richmond which is geared specifically towards kids.

Metro population: 1,234,058
Total number of children 14 and under: 230,769
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.18
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .058
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .018
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .14

rochesterny

7. Rochester, NY

Rochester ranked second among our top 12 in terms of teacher availability. It didn’t outscore too many of the top 12 metros in terms of hands-on learning, but it is home to one of the cooler sounding museums: The National Museum of Play. Also located in the same vicinity are the National Toy Hall of Fame and the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

Metro population: 1,082,578
Total number of children 14 and under: 192,699
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.65
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .065
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .017
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .14

hartford

6. Hartford, CT

Hartford doesn’t have as easy access to childcare as many of the other top 12 metros, but teachers are relatively plentiful. There are also lots of opportunities for specialized education. Just a few examples: a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) magnet school that runs from pre-kindergarten through grade eight, a performing arts school that teaches kids from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve and a Montessori magnet school for kids from pre-kindergarten through grade six.

Metro population: 1,215,159
Total number of children 14 and under: 212,653
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.15
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .068
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .02
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .14

providence

5. Providence, RI

Like Albany and Boston, Providence abounds with museums and historical sites. Middle-school book lovers will be drawn to the Providence Anthenaeum, a library with ties to authors Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Kids of all ages will find something to do at Roger Williams Park, home to seven lakes, a natural history museum and planetarium and zoo.

Metro population: 1,604,317
Total number of children 14 and under: 274,338
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 7.82
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .079
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .024
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .18

albany

4. Albany, NY

The capital of the Empire state has the most hands-on learning opportunities of the top 12 metros. Just a few of the museums and historical sites that kids might like: a decommissioned World War II ship (the USS Slater), the Henry Hudson Planetarium and the New York State Museum, which features a fully functional carousel that visitors can ride for free.

Metro population: 875,567
Total number of children 14 and under: 148,846
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 8.49
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .067
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .027
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .17

barnummuseum

3. Bridgeport, CT

Bridgeport ranked first among the top 12 in terms of extracurricular activity opportunities. It’s also got plenty of museums and historical sites. In fact, one museum was founded by circus promoter P.T. Barnum. It houses exhibits related to both Barnum’s work and the history of the city.

Metro population: 934,215
Total number of children 14 and under: 184,975
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 7.49
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .11
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .021
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .17

madison

2. Madison, WI

Wisconsin’s capital outscored the rest of the top 12 in terms of teacher availability and ranked third in terms of extracurricular activity opportunities. Like top-ranked Boston, the area is also home to plenty of university students. In addition to valuing children’s education, Madison residents seem to have a good sense of humor: in 2009, the city council made the plastic pink flamingo the city’s official bird.

Metro population: 620,368
Total number of children 14 and under: 112,907
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.69
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .083
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .02
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .21

boston

1. Boston, MA

Beantown, known as a mecca for higher education, wins our ranking for child education with high scores across the board. Among the top 12, Boston is second in both extracurricular activity opportunities and hands-on learning (museums and historical sites per 100 kids), and it’s third in terms of childcare access. Plus, teachers are plentiful. All together now: “How do you like them apples?”

Metro population: 4,650,876
Total number of children 14 and under: 799,951
Pre-school through middle school teachers per 100 children 14 and under: 9.07
Extracurricular centers per 100 children 14 and under: .089
Museums and historical sites per 100 children 14 and under: .025
Childcare centers per 100 children 14 and under: .2

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