#1 Mason
Welcome to Mason, Cincy magazine’s No. 1 suburb for 2009. Weighing statistics such as education, crime and taxes, among other factors, this city of 29,000 people easily wins bragging rights in our survey of the Tristate’s top 43 communities.

Known to families across the region, if not the country, for its world-class Kings Island theme park, Mason is where Cincinnati goes to have fun. You could also call Mason the waterpark capital of the Midwest: What other community can boast three of ‘em within its borders (The Beach Waterpark, Boomerang Bay and Great Wolf Lodge).

The city also features the Lindner Family Tennis Center and the Golf Center at Kings Island; between the two, champion tennis players and golfers flock to the area. The corporate presence here is lush, as well, and includes Cintas, Procter & Gamble’s Health Research Center, Luxottica Retail, Mitsubishi and more.

Established as “Palmira” by Revolutionary War veteran William Mason in 1815, Mason remained largely an agricultural community for most of its life. In 1900, the total number of residents hovered at 629, and even by 1970, population remained under 6,000. Then came the opening of Kings Island in 1972, followed by a land development boom. Where people go, money soon follows: Median home value in 2008 was $213,887, while median household income came in at $85,697. No surprise, then, thatMONEY magazine recently named Mason to its list of the “100 Best Places to Live in America.”

The 2007American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census ranks Mason as the second most family friendly city in the area (as indicated by a number of factors, including average family size and number of households with children under 18).

This Warren County community also features one of the most educated populations (49 percent of residents have college degrees), and stellar public schools. In 2008,Newsweek magazine named Mason High School to its list of “America’s Top Public High Schools.” Mason City Schools won the fourth place spot out of 613 Ohio school

districts for its performance index score, as well as earning the coveted “Excellent With Distinction” rating from the Ohio Department of Education.

“We have always thought of ourselves as No. 1,” comments Mason mayor Tom Grossmann. “We’re in a prime location, we have great schools and great parks, and a low tax rate. We’re very proud of our city.”

Strategically located on the Interstate 71 corridor, halfway between downtown and the far northern suburbs, the community is poised for even more development and expansion. The Mason Port Authority, along with Jack Rouse & Associates, has spent a year studying and creating a master land-use plan for the future.

Kings Island, meanwhile, keeps on growing. Diamondback, the new $22-million steel roller coaster, took its first spin in April and is now the tallest and fastest ride at the park. The Beast is celebrating its 30th birthday and still maintains its place in theGuinness Book of World Records as the planet’s longest wooden roller coaster. (A few more anniversaries are also coming up: White Water Canyon opened in 1985, Vortex in 1987, Adventure Express in 1991, Phantom Theater/Scooby’s Haunted Castle in 1992, Top Gun/Flight Deck in 1993, and Son of Beast in 2000.)

More birthdays await. To commemorate its 25th year in Mason, The Beach Waterpark pays tribute to its first year in business, 1985, and revels in all things ’80s this summer.

All this proving that the city of Mason is where Cincinnatians go to live, play and work.

#2 Indian Hill
Known for its upscale living, large estates and excellent school systems, the Village of Indian Hill has maintained the rural atmosphere, green space and historic sites that make it a gem of Hamilton County — as well as being the home of some of Cincinnati’s most prestigious and wealthy families. Though it has been listed as one ofWorth magazine’s richest towns, there are also smaller lots across the village’s 20 square miles whose residents still enjoy all the benefits of this carefully planned community. The school district, Indian Hills Exempted, routinely wins state and national kudos. Indian Hill High School recently received a gold medal ranking fromU.S. News & World Reportas the 48th best public high school in the nation, whileNewsweek magazine named Indian Hill High to its 2008 list of “America’s Top Public High Schools.”

West chester#3 West Chester
Located between Dayton and Cincinnati on the Interstate 75 corridor, West Chester is one of Ohio’s largest townships (population 62,127) and home to the state’s seventh-largest school district — the highly regarded Lakota Local Schools. In addition to comfortable suburbs, West Chester has a healthy development with an economic base of light industrial, high-tech office parks and regional medical centers (including the West Chester Medical Center, UC Physicians at University Pointe and the nearby Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus, Atrium Medical Center and Mercy Hospital Fairfield). New dining options and businesses, including the region’s only IKEA, have sprung up in recent years with the development of Union Centre Boulevard. Family entertainment includes a half-dozen parks, including the 257-acre Voice of America Park and Wiggly Field Dog Park, as well as EnterTrainment Junction, the world’s largest indoor train museum and model railroad display. Little wonder that MONEY magazine recently named West Chester on its list of the “100 Best Places to Live in America.”

#4 Madeira
Madeira has all the charm of a small town and all the conveniences of a city. It’s a place rich in history: Originally developed along the railroad line between Cincinnati and Parkersburg, W. Va., the town finally incorporated in 1910. The community currently boasts a lively business center and main street with a variety of small dining establishments, such as Choo Choo’s in the old railroad depot, and an annual family street dance festival. In addition to its inclusion as one ofBusinessWeek’s “Best Places to Raise Kids,” Madeira is adjacent to great shopping and dining at the Kenwood Towne Centre. It’s also a short drive to I-71 and boasts one of the highest rated school systems in the area. In 2008,Newsweek named Madeira High School to its list of “America’s Top Public High Schools,” while U.S. News & World Reportalso named the high school as one of the best public high schools in the nation.

#5 Turtle Creek Township
Surrounding Lebanon in Warren County, Turtle Creek has a long history that includes early Shaker settlements stretching back to the early 19th century. Bordered by Clear Creek Township to the north and Union Township to the south, Turtle Creek flows around the vintage city of Lebanon. Turtle Creek has also joined a rare fraternity of neighborhoods where average income has leap-frogged up more than 20 percent (even adjusting for inflation). The community has several parks and golf courses, a railway (the Cincinnati Railroad Co.), and residents enjoy a short drive to Miami University’s Middletown campus, Caesar Creek State Park and Treasure Aisles Flea Market.

#6 Anderson Township
With 16 miles of riverfront, nearly a dozen local and county parks, and the highly ranked Forest Hills School District, Anderson Township is one of Hamilton County’s largest political jurisdictions, boasting a population of 45,277. The U.S. Census’ 2007American Community Surveyranks Anderson as the most educated Tristate community (50.9 percent of residents have college degrees), and in the Top 3 for number of families per the population. In 2008, Newsweek named Turpin High School to its list of “America’s Top Public High Schools.” In addition to the shopping and dining at the Anderson Towne Center, the township’s attractions include RiverDowns racetrack, Riverbend Music Center, National City Pavilion and historic Coney Island Amusement Park & Sunlite Pool. The newly built Anderson Government Center includes a theater, home of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Beechmont Players, a public access TV station, and next door, the soon-to-open DanBarry Cinemas.

#7 Liberty Township
Liberty Township has grown from a rural farming area to become part of the rapidly developing Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex. For the past eight years, the Butler County community has averaged well over a thousand new residents per year, bringing its current total to 33,000. Liberty provides easy access to I-75 and is almost equidistant between Dayton and Cincinnati. The community is served by the Lakota Local Schools district. The 2007American Community Survey from the U.S. Census ranks Liberty as having the most new housing built in the northern suburbs in the past four years, the highest median household income ($92,622) and in the Top 3 for number of families per the population.

#8 Wyoming
Wyoming is picture perfect, winning a national “Prettiest Painted Places in America” award several years back. The schools here excel, as well (in 2008,Newsweek magazine named Wyoming High School to its list of “America’s Top Public High Schools”). But families that come for the school system will stay for the community. This 125-year-old neighborhood has much to offer in its attractive shopping district, Victorian homes (more than 300 listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and tree-lined streets. It offers 14 parks and has been recognized as a “Tree City USA” for the past eight years due to its excellent urban forestry.

#9 Hamilton Township
Hamilton Township is one of the fastest growing communities in Warren County. In addition to 34-acre Testerman Park, there are more than 300 acres of parkland on two properties awaiting development. Hamilton has everything from farmland to high-end residential areas. The quiet community also boasts a country club, golf courses, a vineyard, canoeing on the river and a 13.5-mile bike trail.

#10 Edgewood, Ky
With two parks, seven schools and one hospital, Edgewood is an attractive place to live for Northern Kentucky residents. Located in Kenton County with easy access to I-275, Edgewood is just a short drive from downtown and neighbors Crestview Hills and Erlanger. Ripe with sidewalks and playgrounds, the community is popular among families.
Terrace park#11 Terrace Park
Nestled along the Little Miami River, Terrace Park is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in the Tristate. Located within the highly rated Mariemont School District, Terrace Park has a storied history that includes forts and Indian battles. Homes and gardens on tree-lined streets cover the community, which is often compared to a quaint New England village. Terrace Park ranked as the No. 1 safest community inCincy’s crime survey this year.
#12 Newtown
Newtown might seem like a surprise on this list, but it’s your quintessential small-town Mayberry. It features an old-fashioned main street that even has a vintage corner ice cream stand and regular Friday night fish fry at the firehouse. Residents benefit by a farm market and several garden nurseries. Located right next to Anderson, Newtown enjoys the same excellent schools, riverside parks and shopping convenience. Within this close-knit community, housing ranges from up-scale Ivy Hills with its country club and golf course, to condos and smaller houses.

#13 Loveland
LovelandBoasting strong schools and a growing population, Loveland, the “sweetheart of Ohio,” is perhaps best known for its hometown charm and natural assets, which include the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail. More commonly known as the Loveland Bike Trail, the path sees up to 200,000 users each year. One of the busiest stops along the trail, Nisbet Park in historic Loveland, features unique restaurants, antique shops, specialty retail and an art gallery. Surrounding Symmes Township is home to Cincinnati’s only medieval fortress, Chateau LaRoche (also known as Loveland Castle).
#14 Miami Township (Hamilton County)
Bordered on two sides by the Ohio and Great Miami rivers, the west side’s Miami Township is rich in history. Scientists believe an ancient fortification on a bluff in Shawnee Lookout park dates back to 270 A.D. Shawnee Lookout and Mitchell Memorial Forest — Miami Township’s parks — are two of the largest within the Hamilton County Park District.

Villa hills#15 Villa Hills, Ky
Built on what was once acres of farmland, Villa Hills gives residents a taste of the country while still offering them a quick commute to downtown, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, schools in the Kenton County School District and a variety of dining and shopping options. The city’s central location is just one reason many of Cincinnati’s sports and media stars choose to locate here.

Montgomery#16 Montgomery
Montgomery is a vibrant, family-oriented city that embraces its future while valuing the traditions and history of its past. It is home to quaint buildings that are a reminder of a quieter, slower time in the community. The city’s downtown Olde Montgomery heritage district consists of more than 120 unique shops, services and dining establishments that are surrounded by historic landmark properties, classically designed street lamps, brick walkways and a general ambience of days gone by.

#17 Glendale
Incorporated in 1855, Glendale is a quiet northern suburb built on a rail line. Citizens enjoy a tranquil existence in a village that boasts quality shopping and dining, fast access to the interstate system and excellent schools. Glendale is one of the few villages in Ohio designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

#18 Union, Ky
Union offers residents a semi-rural refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life, while still maintaining a close distance to urban destinations. Located only three miles from Florence Mall and 18 miles from Cincinnati, Union is a residential community of middle to upscale single-family homes, interspersed with small agricultural estates, woods and farmland.

Mariemont#19 Mariemont
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007 and one of the first planned communities in the United States, Mariemont is well-known for its charming historic architecture, lush foliage, and award-winning independent school system. An important part of its history is the tradition of holding town meetings, still practiced today and still featuring an old-fashioned Town Crier.

#20 Amberley Village
Talk about a location with a flavor all its own. The Amberley Village council spent decades successfully battling off strip malls and chain restaurants, preserving the rural character of this community. Among Hamilton County’s some 50 political jurisdictions, Amberley ranks first in the percentage of children enrolled in private school (52 percent), a solid indicator of financial affluence.