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Surprising picks on list of family-friendly cities

Washington, D.C.'s many museums and memorials helped it claim the honor of best city for families.

Washington, D.C.'s many museums and memorials helped it claim the honor of best city for families.

Families interested in moving to a more child-friendly environment will be interested in Parenting Magazine's new list of the 100 Best Cities for Families. A new selection methodology has resulted in notable differences between the 2010 and 2011 editions of the annual rankings.

The addition of a "charm and culture index" to categories such as affordability, crime rate and schools hurt some former high performers.

Last year's number one city, Arlington, Virginia, plunged to number 70 on the latest list, replaced in the top spot by neighboring Washington, D.C. Scottsdale, Arizona, plummeted from number eight to number 91.

Parenting's editors said the charm and culture index favored cities with museums and performing arts venues, and this clearly played into the selection of Washington, D.C. as the number one city. The magazine drew attention to D.C.'s 44 museums in a blurb describing the city's highlights.

Other cities held on to their ranking. Austin, Texas, has been ranked number two for two years running, while Madison, Wisconsin, jumped from number six to number three. Omaha, Nebraska, has also been in the top 10 in 2010 and 2011.

St. Louis, Missouri, was another winner in 2011, moving up to number 11 from number 87, despite being named the 3rd most dangerous city in America in a recent 24/7 Wall Street report.