Miguel S. Salmeron
Average home cost*: $161,900
Number of parks: 301
- Has excellent air quality, without a single day in 1999 exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone limits
- Boasts more pediatricians per capita than most American cities
- Offers many recreational opportunities for families, including hiking and biking in nearby mountain parks, plus Six Flags Elitch Gardens (the only amusement park in the downtown of any U.S. city)
- Issues every fifth-grader a free pass for 75 days of skiing
City highlight: More than 100 years ago, the Denver Public Library opened one of the nation's first children's departments. Today, the children's library -- recently redesigned by renowned architect Michael Graves -- sparks imaginations with its unique features: a tentlike Children's Pavilion where magicians and puppeteers perform free on the weekends, benches built into mazelike bookshelves for reading a story, and brass trumpets that call attention to media stations. Half of Denver grade-schoolers participate in the Children's Summer of Reading program. The initiative contributed to the nearly 4 million children's books checked out of the library last year -- an average of 64 books for each cardholder age 12 or under.