New York City is a great place to raise a cultured, worldly kid. At just three years old, my Manhattan-born daughter has eaten delicacies my husband and I had never even heard of until we were in our twenties, and she has an appreciation for art exceeding that of most adults.
But when it comes to teaching kids to appreciate nature, the Big Apple falls short in a big way. Though it’s geographically close to a number of quick, fantastic getaways—kayaking in the Hudson and East rivers, climbing at the Shawangunks, hiking at Bear Mountain—it doesn’t exactly make it easy to give kids the kind of consistent exposure to the wild that will encourage them to keep going outside later in life. There’s no place to store the equipment, for one. And how often can we realistically get away from the city with one or more kids in tow?
We talked with some parents and grandparents of adventurous kids and asked them to make the case for their hometown (or the city or town they're scheming to move to). In making our picks, we looked for towns that had affordable housing, were close enough to the city to give kids exposure to museums and other cultural institutions, and, most importantly, had easy access to a variety of outdoor recreation. While this list is by no means comprehensive, these five cities are a solid bet for parents looking to give their kids an early entree to adventure.