Best Small City: Outdoor Living In Allen Texas

When Money Magazine compiled a list of America’s 100 Best Small Cities for its July 12, 2010 issue, Allen, Texas didn’t just make the cut — it placed at 16th, a surprise to some people who do not know about this thriving community of 78,000 lying just 23 miles north of the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Although Allen is a suburb of the third largest city in Texas (and ninth largest in the United States), its local life stands on its own, vibrantly independent of its bigger neighbors. Thanks to the regional climate and to well-planned and maintained facilities, a major draw for singles and families relocating to Dallas and it surrounding communities is the fact that in Allen, you can live an active, outdoor lifestyle — and live it well.

** Regional Climate Favors Active, Outdoor Lifestyle **

The climate in North Texas favors being outside most of the year. Springs are long and warm, while the autumn months are moderate to crisp. The coldest months are late January and February when at least one snow or ice event is common. The hottest months are July and August, with severe heat waves that generally extend over the first two to three weeks of August when temperatures are 100 degrees or higher with unpleasant humidity. Fortunately, for those periods, sports and outdoor enthusiasts can simply move indoors to beat the heat, confident that pleasant temperatures will soon return and extend to Thanksgiving and occasionally into early December.

** Twin Creeks, One of 154 Public Golf Courses **

There are an amazing 154 public golf courses within just 30 miles of Allen. As an example, the Twin Creeks Golf Course is an 18-hole regulation course built in 1995. Designed by Arnold Palmer, it offers a medium-length layout. Open fairways lead to generous, gently undulating greens. Five holes include water hazards created by two natural creeks that freely flow through the course and are flanked by trees. Twin Creeks has a reputation for being the most naturally preserved course in Texas, a peaceful setting where, at given times of the day, golfers are allowed to walk for slightly reduced green fees. The cost of 18-holes of play runs from $55 to $70.

** Generous-Sized, Free Facilities at Celebration Park **

Located at Malone Drive and Angel Parkway, Celebration Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The sprawling multi-use site offers picnic tables and benches, restrooms, and concession areas and is designed for universal access throughout. There are fifteen soccer fields, including one large, lighted field. Look for basketball courts, two 300-foot baseball fields, and a big multi-sport court. Both horseshoe and washer pitching courts are also available. In addition to slides and other play features, the spray pool and yard, which is open seasonally, welcomes kids ages 2 to 12 from noon until 8 p.m. (Note that the spray pool is closed on Wednesdays.) With hiking and biking trails also present, Celebration Park is an excellent and economical outdoor option for the whole family.

** Joe Farmer Recreation Center for Fitness and Activities **

A multi-use center maintained by the City of Allen, the Joe Farmer Recreation Center includes a full-sized gym and fitness room, two racquetball courts, and a walking / jogging track. Meeting spaces and a hillside amphitheater may be utilized for a range of activities. Youth programs cover a broad spectrum from horseback riding to hula dancing and fitness and wellness classes are also offered. A membership is required to use the facility with different fees for residents and non-residents. Adult memberships are $50 for residents and $85 for non-residents; seniors 50 and above $24 and $45 respectively; youth 14-17 also pay $24 and $45; with children 7 to 13 charged $12 to $17. Children 6 and under are welcome for free. There is a family membership cap for residents of $170, but no cap for non-residents.

** Cycling, Hiking, and Water Sports Readily Available **

Biking and hiking enthusiasts are especially lucky to have access to a 20-mile long system of well-tended trails, the lengthiest being the fourteen-mile Allen Parkway Loop. For water sports, Allen residents can go east to Lake Lavon or west to Lake Lewisville. Each covers more than 20,000 acres and both are major centers in North Texas for fishing, boating, and all manner of water sports.

Allen’s community spirit, evidenced by these outdoor venues — many of which are free public spaces — work hand in hand with strong regional real estate values to make Allen an above average relocation choice. The DFW Metroplex is the 12th largest metro economy in the world, and, as a satellite to that urban area, Allen, is a natural choice for families and singles who want to buy or lease a home in North Texas.

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