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The top cities to live and learn in the West 2011

What are most family-friendly towns in the Western states? From beautiful coastal hamlets to brainy college enclaves, we found the 10 best cities for housing and public schools.

By GreatSchools Staff

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Moraga, CA

Educational quality score: 97.69
Median home value: 722,010
Population: 16,465

This pastoral suburb in the East Bay hills has fields and woodlands with cows, deer, squirrels, foxes, coyote, bobcats, quail, and wild turkeys that occasionally strut on the downtown sidewalks. There's nothing "fowl" about the schools however. The district's API score of 945 placed them in the top 2 percent statewide, with Campolindo High School (CHS) ranking #86 nationally in US News & World Report. CHS offers video production and digital photography classes, as well as great sports opportunities. The 2010 girls volleyball team was tops in the Golden State, and Olympic star Matt Biondi grew his fins on the school's buoyant swim team.

The middle school, Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, also offers unusual extracurriculars, like golf, badminton, journalism club, writing contests, and spelling and geography bees. All this, in a Northern California setting that enables you to hike, bike, or run your dog off leash. Moraga even has a liberal arts ivory tower: St. Mary's College with 3,840 students.

Learn more about schools in Moraga, CA.

Photo credit: CrazyBebopper

Comments from readers

"How do I access the special ed information "
"My son is special ed - I don't know how to access material on this subject or find best special ed programs/schools in california. Please help."
"Howcome Fremont, CA is not on the list ? The Mission Hills neighborhood in Fremont has the 36th best schools in Entire US. Palo Alto schools are way behind Mission San Jose High School. Even in terms of lifestyle it is way better than Palo Alto with most views to the hills and bay."