San Francisco - 2011: The Healthiest City for Families

As featured in Parents Magazine annual Smart Places to Settle Down list, SF made the top spot, thanks in part to some healthy steps taken by SFUSD.

#1. San FranciscoPopulation 744,041
Medical Care A
Healthy Schools A
Air & Water A+
Outdoor Fun A
Family Safety A-

(c) Getty Images
The City by the Bay rose to the top of our list in part because of its gutsy moves to bring healthier foods to schools. San Fran booted soda and high-fat, empty-calorie food out of its schools in 2004 (five years before the state did) and was one of the first places in the country to push for school gardens.

Salad bars -- stocked with California-grown produce and whole-grain breads -- debuted in 25 city schools in 2007; now at least half have them. "Students are definitely eating more fruits and vegetables at lunchtime since we installed the salad bars," says Ed Wilkins, school nutrition services director.

San Francisco also goes the extra mile to keep kids active, running 182 playgrounds (including Golden Gate Playground, with one-of-a kind slides and a sand-castle-building area), 82 recreation centers, and 60 soccer fields. The Sunday Streets program creates miles of car-free roads during designated times so families can get outside without traffic worries.

"My 3-year-old squealed when she rode her bike down the middle of the steep roads near our house," says Sumi Das, a spokesperson for the 4,300-member Golden Gate Mothers group.