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by Eileen
(Austin, MN)

I am not a native of Austin, MN, but retired here after 20 years in the Army to be closer to my nieces. I had visited several times and really liked what I found - a small, very attractive town which is close enough to both the Twin Cities (where I grew up) and Rochester for access to shopping, the arts, and sports events.

Now living here, I find that there is plenty of that right here, too. The schools and the community has a strong history of support of the arts. The schools all have wonderful plays and concerts, including Riverland College with the Frank Bridges Theater.

Additionally, the city has a fantastic symphony which holds concerts throughout the year and frequently hosts guest artists of world-renown. There is also the Austin Artist Series, which is a scheduling of 5 world-class concerts of various skills right here, with an additional 5 concerts available to ticketholders which are held in Osage, IA, about half an hour away. The cost is more than reasonable for the individual or a family.

Also in the arts arena, the Austin Area Art Center, located in the Oak Park Mall, celebrates the many local artists (painting, quilting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry) with rotating exhibits, seminars, classes, and gift shop, which includes artist supplies.

Enough on the arts - on to the sports! Of course there are the high school teams, but also the Riverland College sports teams, which continute to be competitive in their areas across the state. We also have the Austin Greyhounds junior league baseball team in the summer - went to State this year - and the brand new Austin Bruins junior hockey league team. They provide exciting sports experience you don't find in most small communities.

As for shopping, there are numerous unique shops and boutiques in the downtown area, around town, and in the outskirts if one doesn't feel like driving to the bigger cities. The Austin residents are friendly and helpful, and and are happy to show off the wonders of their home.

Oh, and I almost forgot, Austin is the home of the world famous Spam Museum - don't laugh, it is a great museum, really worth the visit - and we have the Hormel Historic Home, so you can see one of the places the Hornel family lived in brought back to its 1920's glory, and we have the Hormel Institute, a world-class research facility making great discoveries towards curing cancer, and the Hormel Nature Center if you want to take a walk in a beautiful, natural area through the woods and prairie environment of southern Minnesota, and the Mower County Historic Society, with a plethora of buildings housing artifacts and displays of historical interest, and the Paramount Theater, a historic atmospheric theater which is used for plays, concerts, movies, etc.

And we have plenty of restaurants and bars and coffeehouses for those who want to go out. I hope you make the time to come visit - I am sure you will be glad you did!

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