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EP11 - El Paso, Texas

El Paso - Annual 2011

Welcome to El Paso — "Sun City" — Texas' Fourth-Largest City and the World's Largest International Border Metropolis.

EP11 - El Paso, Texas
The historic Plaza Hotel in downtown El Paso was Conrad Hilton's first highrise hotel in the nation.
Mark Paulda

With its sunny skies, temperate climate, growing economy, low cost of living, and healthy real estate market, it's no wonder El Paso is a leader in national growth and economic trends. According to Morgan Quitno Press 2010, El Paso is the third-safest U.S. city with a population of 500,000 or more. The Brookings Institute's MetroMonitor ranks El Paso eighth on its 2010 list of the nation's most recession-proof cities. El Paso was awarded a 2010 All-American City designation.

El Paso is a romantic crossroads, where the cultures of Texas, Mexico, and the U.S. Southwest blend into a city like no other in the world. El Paso is as proud of its 400-year multicultural past as it is of its strong future.

Franciso "Pancho" Morales is credited with creating the famous margarita at Tommy's Place Bar on July 4, 1945.

Conrad Hilton built his first hotel here: Plaza Hotel in downtown.

Outside the airport is one of the world's largest equestrian statues: the 42-foot-tall depiction of Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate by John Houser, erected in 2007.

Thanks to Fort Bliss, University of Texas at El Paso, and more than 70 (and counting) Fortune 500 companies, El Paso enjoys a strong and stable economy. The metro area's population is 740,000 and one of the fastest growing in the nation.

There are more than a dozen museums here, including El Paso Museum of History, Gene Roddenberry Planetarium, Insights Science Museum, and Fort Bliss Museum. El Paso Museum of Art is a must-see showcase of European masters from the 13th century, 19th century Western art, and contemporary art. (See "Attractions" for a complete list of museums.) Rounding out the arts, El Paso Symphony Orchestra shares the stage with the best mariachi musicians in the world.

There's plenty of outdoor recreation, too. Check out the 18-acre El Paso Zoo. Explore Franklin Mountain State Park, 37 square miles of rugged outdoor playground. Forming the iconic backdrop to El Paso, the tail end of the Rocky Mountains are a favorite destination for hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, nature lovers, and anyone seeking solitude from the city. In the spring, orange desert poppies blanket the foothills, and other wild flowers splash color throughout the year.

Take in the view from Scenic Drive, where you can see the lights of El Paso and Mexico. Wyler Aerial Tramway goes to the top of 5,632-foot Ranger Peak, where you have a 360-degree view of three states and two nations.

El Paso is rightfully attracting the attention of the world art scene. Artists here representing a variety of cultures and experience share their talent with invigorating color and energy. Many galleries and shows throughout the city showcase this talent and style found nowhere else.

After all of this exploring, enjoy authentic Mexican dishes from literally just over the border; local chefs grew up making these masterpieces in their homes. But flavors and fusions from all over the world are found here, too.

El Paso works hard and plays hard. Nightlife abounds, from Texas blues bars to Latin hip-hop and alternative music clubs. Of course, salsa, jazz, and live Latin music abound, as does flamenco dancing. Throughout the summer, people gather at San Jacinto Plaza for outdoor concerts. (San Jacinto Plaza is also known as Alligator Park. From 1883 to the 1960s, live alligators were kept in the fountain. El Paso native son and internationally acclaimed artist Luis Jiménez's sculpture there commemorates this quirky tradition.)

El Paso, "The Pass," is less than an hour from Las Cruces (New Mexico's secondlargest city) and an easy drive to many of southern New Mexico's attractions, such as Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument. Day trip adventures are within easy reach of El Paso, making the Sun City the gateway to the Land of Enchantment.

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