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Central Texas Tops Rankings

We’re accustomed to the wonderful opportunities afforded by life in Central Texas, but other regions have also taken notice. Our area appears on a number of “best places” lists each year, and this year is no exception.

San Antonio is noted for the beautiful River Walk and the many culinary destinations that call the city home. Austin is highly ranked as a great place for music and outdoor recreation. The rolling Texas Hill Country is nationally recognized for its wine and wildflowers. But our region may be attracting the most attention for its economic strengths and business climate, with outstanding opportunities for both employees and entrepreneurs. We’ve collected many of the accolades and rankings from the past few years, so take a look and see why folks far and near believe Central Texas deserves a place at the top of the charts.  


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A Great Place to Visit; The Perfect Place to Live

It’s not hard to see why “everything’s better in Texas.” We love to work hard and play hard, and folks from around the nation are taking note.

Employment and Economy

It seems as if everything is booming in Texas. As other parts of the country struggle to regain their footing, Central Texas is moving confidently ahead, maintaining a lower-than-average unemployment rate and excellent business climate.

  • Forbes named Austin “America's number one boomtown,” based on employment, population growth, and college graduation rates. San Antonio came in at number four, Houston at number five, and Dallas at number seven on this list. American City Business Journals also ranked Austin as the “U.S. market that is most conducive to the creation and development of small businesses.”
  • Climbing 13 places over last year, San Antonio was ranked the “#1 best performing city in the United States” by the Milken Institute, based on job creation and economic growth. Texas cities received nine of the top 25 spots in this ranking, including four of the top five.
  • When it's finally time to hang up your spurs, you may just want to do it in Central Texas. The Austin-Round Rock area was named the “second fastest-growing retirement spot in the last decade,” and ranked fourth on the list of “best places for military retirement: second careers,” by USAA and
  • Employees of all stripes may find the perfect job in our area. Austin currently enjoys the highest employment levels it’s had in the last decade, ranking first in the nation. San Antonio is sixth on that list, according to American City Business Journals. A similar survey from Manpower maintains that Austin has the fifth healthiest employment outlook, and rated Texas overall as the third best in the country.
  • Those entering the workforce may find the best opportunities right here — Austin was ranked the “best place to start a career,” by American City Business Journals; three of the top seven cities were also in Texas. And Forbes magazine ranked Austin as the “third best job market in the U.S.”

Travel and Recreation

Need a break? Pick a direction. There are leisure opportunities for every taste in Central Texas. It’s not a question of where to go, it’s which way to go first.

  • San Antonio was ranked the “12th best city for winter travel” according to Travel + Leisure magazine. They noted the magnificent sight of 1.8 million LED lights adorning the River Walk during the holidays, and the chance to see the Spurs play during the winter months.
  • The River Walk was named one of America's most beautiful landmarks this past April. Originally envisioned as a flood control project in the 1930s, it has become one of the region's primary tourist attractions, with 5 million visitors each year.
  • In September, Travel + Leisure magazine named San Antonio the “10th best city for foodies,” noting both the exquisite interior Mexican food as well as the ubiquitous Tex-Mex.
  • Austin has long been associated with music, and was ranked the third best music city in the country after Nashville and New Orleans. (But we have to note that the “live music capital of the world” serves up a much more diverse range of musical styles than either of the top two.)
  • Fredericksburg has long been on lists of great places to visit. USA Today included the Texas Hill country in its list of “10 great places for local wines,” calling Fredericksburg a “mini-Napa.” Southern Living magazine named Fredericksburg as “one of the top three best small towns in the South,” and their annual Oktoberfest celebration was named one of the “12 travel highlights for 2009,” by
  • named the Texas Hill Country as the “10th best wildflower viewing spot in the country” recognizing our annual carpet of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and primrose, as well as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – a national treasure and a forerunner in wildflower and native plant research.
  • You can't mention wildflowers without noting Wildseed Farms just outside of Fredericksburg – the largest working wildflower farm in the U.S., with more than 350,000 visitors a year. It's cultivars have won national awards for more than a decade, and Wildseed Farms is the only producer of certain species.
  • Hill Country vineyards have won national and statewide awards at competitions throughout the past several years – too many to list here. But you can't go wrong with a visit to Dry Comal Creek Vineyards (Gold - Grand Star Award at the 2011 Lone Star International Wine Competiton), Dutchman Estate Winery (Double Gold at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition), or Flat Creek Estate (Top Texas Wine, Texas Class Champion, Gold at the 2010 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition).


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Best Places to Visit in San Antonio

San Antonio provides a wealth of opportunities for visitors. Whether you’re there to see a show or peer into the past, make sure you take in one of these top attractions.

  • SeaWorld – More than 26 shows, rides from the tame to the wild, animal attractions like no other, and educational experiences for people of every age make SeaWorld one of the best places to visit in San Antonio. Don't forget your swimsuit! In addition to the shows, rides and animals, SeaWorld will be opening a fantastic new water park called Aquatica in May 2012 that will let visitors swim, dive and slide through the water like dolphins … sardines, anyone?
  • The Riverwalk – Park the car at the beginning of your trip, and don't bother returning to it until you’re ready to go home. The San Antonio River Walk has enough shopping, dining and entertainment to fill up a weekend or longer, and everything is just a short, pleasant stroll away.
  • The Alamo – The quintessential symbol of San Antonio, the Alamo is a reminder of the heroic struggle required to settle the West and an emblem of the Texas spirit. If you don’t have time for anything else, make sure to add this “must see” museum of Texas history to your agenda.
  • McNay Museum – This is the first museum of modern art in Texas, opened in 1954. The permanent collection includes examples of Impressionist and Cubist art along with modern masterpieces from some of the most well known names in the art world: Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackson Pollock.
  • Tower of the Americas – This 750-foot-tall tower includes a revolving restaurant where you can dine as you marvel at a magnificent view of Central Texas. A short stroll from the River Walk, this is an easy addition to any travel agenda. Built in 1968 for the Worlds Fair, it was erected to celebrate San Antonio's 250th anniversary.
  • Japanese Tea Garden – Begun in 1915, this exquisite set of meticulously maintained gardens is a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life. Originally built in an old rock quarry, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Witte Museum – Whether you’re mesmerized by microbes or dazzled by dinosaurs, you’ll be able to find something to stimulate your neurons at San Antonio's science and natural history museum. Make sure to bring the kids — the H-E-B Science Treehouse includes exhibits for the scientifically curious of all ages.