San Angelo

This community grew around the site of Fort Concho, established in 1867 at the junction of the north and middle branches of Concho River. It was an early ranching center. Today, it is the nation's largest primary wool and mohair market and a major livestock auction center. It also is a regional agriculture hub. A variety of industries, medical facilities, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Angelo State University lend diversity. The city is home to a symphony orchestra, ballet and the Cactus Jazz Series. The Cactus Jazz and Blues Festival is held at the River Stage, the state's oldest civic theater.

Birding in and around the Concho Valley features more than 332 species. Pearl seekers can find Concho River Pearls formed in freshwater mussels. (An annual permit is required from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.)

The old Cactus Hotel, built in 1929, is among the first Hilton Hotels. It houses a children's museum. The Crystal Ballroom is worth a peek.

Also of interest are the International Water Lily Collection in Civic League Park (www.internationalwaterlilycollection.com) and the Old Chicken Farm Art Center. www.chickenfarmartcenter.com. The downtown River Walk features gardens, water displays, playground, walking trail and a nine-hole golf course.

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