This all-American hometown, just south of Houston in Brazoria County, has grown from a prairie town to a rice and oil center, to a petrochemical kingdom and into the city it is today. Visitors enjoy fresh fruit and vegetable outdoor markets, 55,000-plus square feet of antique shopping, bass fishing, birding, nature trails, golf, camping, scuba diving, skydiving and more.

During the spring, Shimek Gardens is spectacular with more than 850 varieties of daylilies and roses on 4.3 acres. On C.R. 237 one mile west of the city. 281/331-4395.

Visit Froberg Farms for homegrown fruits and vegetables. Visitors often pick their own items. Tours are available by request Mon.–Fri. in May and Nov. On C.R. 190. 281/585-3531.

Alvin also is part of The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, which winds through 43 counties along the Texas coast. It features 308 wildlife viewing sites.

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