With a population of 229,000, Lubbock is located in the southern region of the West Texas panhandle. Lubbock has a moderate, fairly dry climate with an annual rainfall of only 18 inches. The city lies 320 miles west of Dallas, 375 miles northwest of Austin, and 320 miles southeast of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Several major airlines, an interstate highway and four U.S. highways make Lubbock easily accessible for travel. Lubbock and its surrounding area offer a rich, warm blend of hospitality and West Texas culture. The South Plains are the home of several wineries, including the internationally acclaimed Llano Estacado Winery. Regular regional events include rodeos, Mexican American and African American cultural events, the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, country and western dancing and western art shows. The United Spirit Arena on Tech’s campus hosts several top-selling performers in concert each year. Lubbock is also home to over 500 eating establishments serving both ethnic and regional cuisine. For the sports-minded, Lubbock offers a wide array of activities. Water skiers can enjoy Buffalo Springs Lake while the mountains of New Mexico, which offer skiing and hiking opportunities, are only 3-4 hours drive from Lubbock. The low cost of living allows for good housing options at an affordable cost. Although it can get hot in the summer, the dry climate provides cool, pleasant evenings and beautiful sunsets.