Published on March 8, 2019

Virginia Beach from the ocean Pin It
Photography by Euro Banks

Deciding to start a family doesn’t mean abandoning your entire lifestyle for a day-to-day resplendent in minivans and trips to Costco. That said, there are certain factors that become logistically more important when you have little ones—things like school districts and safety—that spur a lot of young families to move to more kid-friendly locales. If you find yourself in this category, a new report put together by homes.com may prove useful. The 2019 Family-Friendly Cities Index looked at 50 of the biggest US cities and ranked the top spots to raise a family.

These cities made the top three:

  1. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  2. Raleigh, North Carolina
  3. Charlotte, North Carolina

The first thing to note is that two of the top three cities happen to be in the same state and, more generally, all three cities fall in the southeast. The three lowest-ranking cities (New York City, San Francisco, and Memphis, in that order) are more geographically spread out, suggesting a commonality in the environmental factors that make for a family-friendly city.

The second thing to note is that none of the top cities in the family-friendly index are located in the top family-friendly states, which means that if you want to be as accurate as possible, you may want to refine your search to focus on specific cities.

To come up with the findings, homes.com looked at six key factors. The researchers prioritized school quality, followed closely by cost of living, safety, childcare availability, commute length, and park availability. The top three had all these in spades, which makes them prime for raising children, but what about the parents?

It turns out that the top three cities are full of design-forward spots and fun things to do that make them great for parents as well as children. If you’re considering a move to any of them, here are some stylish spots you can’t miss in each city.

Virginia Beach

Looking to get some work done or catch up with friends? Three Ships Coffee has plenty of seating, free wifi, and a delicious assortment of breakfast goodies. Industrial decor provides a cozy backdrop for guests to sit down with a latte and catch up on whatever they need to—just be sure to get there early if possible, as seating is limited.

607 19th Street; threeshipscoffee.com

Raleigh

Since its opening in 2017, Brewery Bhavana has quickly become a local favorite. It’s not so much a traditional brewery as it is a stylish spot for a slew of activities: The brewery is also a dim sum restaurant, a flower shop, and a bookstore. Whether you try it as a date night spot or a place to enjoy a midday reprieve, in the company of a good book and beautiful decor elements like a living wall and 20-foot fig trees, it’s sure to become a go-to.

218 S. Blount Street; brewerybhavana.com

Charlotte

Charlotte is low-key full of design-forward eateries and boutiques. One of our favorite spots is Haberdish, a southern cuisine restaurant and craft cocktail bar. Haberdish is a must-visit for two big reasons. Firstly, the food, which highlights the best of the south with dishes like sweet potato dumplings and roasted okra. There’s even a “fried chicken hotline” you can call on the website. Secondly, it was designed by Kelley Vieregg and boasts charming details like Edison bulbs, vintage servingware, and exposed wooden beams.

3106 N. Davidson Street; haberdish.com

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