Starting in Austin and stretching 85 miles northwest of the city, the Highland Lakes region of Texas is a string of six lakes known for boating and fishing, and as a popular retirement area. But it's also a magnet for younger people because of the healthy economy (which is not dependent on just one industry) and the outdoor lifestyle. By far the most popular of the waterways are the two lakes closest to the city of Austin: Lake Austin and Lake Travis. Each has its distinct advantages.
"The environments are very different," says Marla Schwartz, assistant manager of Lake Austin Marina. "Lake Austin is a lot more focused on skiing and wakeboarding. Lake Travis has more big boats."
To put the general atmosphere in perspective, there are more than a dozen marinas on Lake Travis. And in an effort to keep up with the growing demand, lakefront communities - Lakeway, Briarcliff, Lago Vista and many others - have sprouted up on the water.
Scorecard (scale of 1-5)
Waterfront Availability: 5
Ease for Boaters: 4
Strong Boat-Related Business: 4
Number of Good Boating Days: 4