Set in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Mission, Texas, is perhaps best known to sports fans as the hometown of former Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry. It's also headquarters for the Texas Citrus Exchange, and is considered to be the home of the ruby red grapefruit, which is one of its most popular exports.
With a growing population, Mission is far from a small town but it isn't quite a big city, either. It retains its own particular Southwestern charm after all, any town that bills itself as the "Home of the Ruby Red Grapefruit" isn't going to be vying with Manhattan for international city status yet it has its own cosmopolitan flair. You'll find more than a touch of savvy sophistication, for example, in its thriving commercial community, which boasts major players such as the corporate headquarters for the Texas Citrus Exchange. Once you're in the residential sections of town, however, you feel as if you've stepped into the pages of a guide for gracious living, complete with lovely homes and beautifully landscaped parks. It's one of those best-of-both-worlds places, with a big helping of Texas warmth and friendliness thrown in for good measure.
Moving to Mission
If you're looking to find an apartment in Mission, you'll find a wide variety of apartment rentals available. Whether you're looking for a studio apartment or a multi-bedroom, be aware that all utilities paid apartments are something of a rarity here. The good news is that Mission is a relatively big city with a huge number of property rentals, so you may have a better chance of finding utilities-paid and serviced apartments with a variety of conveniences; just be prepared to do some searching.
Thanks to Mission's temperate climate, you can easily make a move at any time of the year. Likewise, there's no real renter's season, so you can expect rates and availability to stay stable throughout the year.
Neighborhoods in Mission
Mission offers an abundance of charming residential neighborhoods and subdivisions, many boasting water features, hiking trails and community swimming pools. Here are a few of the most popular residential areas:
Madero: Named after the area's historic Rancho Madero, this fetching community is close to the Rio Grande, and features a beautiful manmade lake. You'll find a number of popular apartment complexes here.
Sharyland Plantation: This residential community features homes, condos and apartments, all immaculately landscaped and close to amenities such as shopping centers and golf courses.
City Center: City Center has two main thoroughfares, Mayberry Road and N Bryan Road, where you'll find a great selection of residential properties both for sale and rent.
Meadow Creek County: The houses in this neighborhood are reasonable and comfy, and the neighborhood is just minutes from the popular Meadow Creek Country Club and golf course.
Living in Mission
So what's it like to actually live in Mission? The best way to find that out is to spend some time on a scouting trip. Sure, the tourists' websites showcase the best of any destination, but once you're physically there it's hard to fake the real day-to-day ambiance of a city. During your scouting trip, talk to the locals and try to immerse yourself a bit in local life. If you like what you see and hear, then chances are you'll be happy living here.
Logistically, life in Mission is easy. The climate is incredibly mild, and the Valley Metro system provides a great bus service throughout Mission and the surrounding communities. Otherwise, it does help to have a car or a bike or scooter for getting around in locally.
As for places to go and things to do, Mission has a wealth of bars, shopping centers and appealing restaurants. If you want to blend in with the locals, the first thing you should do is pay a visit to Marco's Burgers & Fries (2507 E Griffin Pkwy), a popular local hangout that specializes in homemade burger plates with all the trimmings. For something completely out of the ordinary, try La Fogata (300 N Shary Rd), where you can listen to a mariachi band while you enjoy top-notch quesadillas and enchilada platters. This being Texas, you'll also be among barbecue addicts, so be sure to check out 492 BBQ (4126 N FM 492), where the sauce-slathered baby back ribs melt in your mouth. Texas is also a great place for beer, and BJ's Brewhouse (3200 Expressway 83) serves delicious handcrafted artisan brews.
If you love the nightlife, you'll be at home in Mission. One of the largest bars in the area, the evocatively named Paradise Roadhouse (3700 E Expy 83), is just minutes away in Weslaco. No Blues Brothers chicken wire here -- this is an important entertainment venue that showcases everything from regional country bands to stand-up comedians. For more great music, Havana Club Bar & Grill (500 E Nolana Ave) is just about 10 minutes away in McAllen, and features weekly live entertainment and some of the best salsa dancing around.
Is there any city in America that doesn't lay claim to a championship golf course? Mission is no exception, and it boasts several stellar courses, including Meadow Creek (1300 Circle Dr), a 10-acre course with Bermuda grass, and The Club at Cimarron (1200 S Shary Rd), which offers an 18-hole course designed by golf course architect Dave Bennet.
If you prefer to stroll around rather than whack golf balls and curse bunkers, you'll revel in beautiful Bentsen State Park (2800 S Bentsen Palm Dr), which features 588 acres highlighted by the magnificent World Birding Center, a habitat for more than 500 species of our feathered friends. You'll also enjoy the wooded trails and stunning observation tower. Nature lovers flock to the National Butterfly Center (3333 Butterfly Park Dr), where swarms of the colorful creatures flit around, alight on plants and -- sometimes -- people.
Film and music buffs are attracted to Mission because of venues such as the historic Rio Theatre (516 Doherty), a palatial 1912 performance center where you can enjoy concerts, films and theatrical performances. Another historic gem is The Border Theater (905 Conway Ave), which was built in 1942 and is one of the last surviving theaters built in Art Pueblo style. Today, it's still in business as a popular cinema. History buffs will also enjoy visiting the Mission Historical Museum (900 Doherty Ave), which showcases artifacts and images from the city's past. Sports fans are probably most familiar with Mission because it's the home of the Tom Landry Mural (N Conway and 101 E St), a huge painting that chronicles the life of its most famous son, the legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
For Mission locals, the biggest festival of the year is the Texas Citrus Fiesta, which celebrates the city's biggest export, the ruby red grapefruit. Held every January, the Citrus Fiesta features a week of carnival events, cook-offs and, of course, a parade of oranges. It's a great time to put aside your big city cynicism and get into the spirit of all things local. Truth: you'll love it.
In the end, you could say that if you can't find it in Mission, you can probably do just as well without it. Life here is just that good. Plus, there's all that ruby red grapefruit. What more can you want from life?