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August 2009

The Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid: The Winning 25

From Boulder to Juneau to Bozeman, see which cities made the cut for the best place to raise an outdoor kid, and why.
11. Asheville, NC
Pop: 68,889 Median home: $175,000 Overall score: 61

One K-8 charter school teaches Outward Bound curriculum


Honors include: "Best Places to Live," "Happiest City for Women," & "Beer City USA"


Set in the Blue Ridge Mtns., just hours from Great Smokies and a half-million acres of Pisgah National Forest (with its 950 miles of trails, waterfalls, and backcountry camping)

12. Portland, ME
Pop: 62,825 Median home: $192,100 Overall score: 59

Subsidized youth and community sailing classes in the harbor


L.L.Bean flagship store (and discount outlet) only 15 minutes away in Freeport


31-mile urban trail network; 3 hours to Acadia National Park and 4 hours to Mt. Katahdin (northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail); best sea kayaking on East Coast

13. Hood River, OR
Pop: 5,831 Median home: $345,000 Overall score: 59

Local nonprofit offers cheap kids’ windsurfing lessons on the Columbia


City aquatic center hosts Saturday kayaking practice; 35 outdoor classes at rec center


Trails along Columbia Gorge offer America’s best waterfall hiking; world-class hiking and mountain biking in Gifford Pinchot NF; 11,239-foot Mt. Hood an hour from town

14. Manchester, NH
Pop: 108,580 Median home: $165,250 Overall score: 58

10 Scout troops & 4 Venture crews camp at local 3,500-acre reserve


#1 small city in the East, says Money; Southwest airlines hub with direct flights to 18 cities


1-hour drive to White Mountain National Forest, Atlantic seashore, and Appalachian Trail; a few more hours gets you to Presidentials, Acadia, Baxter State Park, Green Mountains

15. Harrisonburg, VA
Pop: 40,468 Median home: $181,000 Overall score: 56

Quiet town within an hour of 2 national forests & 1 national park


Unemployment is 6.4%–and falling; active student culture with 8 colleges within 50 miles


Surrounded by superb kayaking, hiking, fishing, and cycling (try the 32-mile Southern Traverse singletrack); minutes to Shenandoah NP, and a little more to W. Virginia wildlands

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