Round Up Your Top Texas Adventure in Plano

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday February 7, 2023

The Boardwalk at Granite Park
The Boardwalk at Granite Park  (Source:Visit Plano)

Travelers eager for an authentic Texas adventure are galloping to the bright Lone Star metropolis that is Plano. Just a short drive north from Dallas and its two major airports, Plano is one of the state's lesser-known gems, a place where frontier history meets contemporary living.

Along with its great parks and culture, Plano is a prime destination for some of north Texas's best dining, nightlife, shopping, and entertainment. For LGBTQ+ travelers, expect to find a down-home community that's celebrated North Texas Pride for more than a decade, including its late-summer "Come as You Are" festival and a variety of year-round events.

Whether you're heading to Plano for weekend getaways, celebrations, or extended family outings, expect to find plenty of first-cut reasons to stay. So take the reins for a ride through some of the city's best sights, flavors, and fun, Texas-style.

From Cowboy Roots to City Delights

(Source: Visit Plano)

It all started in Downtown Plano two centuries ago, when the very first railroad rolled into town. Today that five-acre area is where the Old West legacy lives on, earning the neighborhood a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. And tying its train heritage to modern times, downtown is home to a modern-day DART light-rail station that zips directly to Dallas.

Visitors love to discover the wonderfully walkable Downtown Plano Arts District. It's impossible to miss some of the unique public works that are part of the Downtown Mural Project. In partnership with the Plano Art Association, the project supports artists in creating visual art celebrating Plano's history. During your visit, be sure to browse some of the unique wares of boutiques filling out some of downtown's historic buildings.

Downtown's local venues keep their programming spicy through music and other performing arts. For those ready to be hands-on, head over to Pipe & Palette for your own artsy endeavors, from fluid-art workshops to vivid creations in the "splatter room." Families with kids find colorful interactive ways to play at the Crayola Experience, home to 26 uniquely vivid attractions.

So much of Plano suits the city's sunny weather, like the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, a spectacular 200-acre park on the west side of town. Head here for lovely stretches of walking, biking, and hiking trails perfect for picnics, wildlife watching, and lofty views from the observation tower.

Head to huge Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve for some of the best outdoor recreation across 800 acres. It's Plano's biggest park, with miles of paved and soft trails, plus kayaking and paddleboarding. Or strap on some ziplining gear and kick your adventure up a notch at Go Ape Treetop Adventure, a high-ropes adventure course to try your best Tarzan swings and super-long zipline flights.

Shopping and Dining and Cocktails, Oh My

Legacy West Fountain
Legacy West Fountain  (Source: Visit Plano)

For Plano visitors who lean into retail recreation, The Shops at Legacy is a sure bet. Designed as a town center, this outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex is a hub of urban life. Expect to lose track of time indulging in spas and salons, films at the Angelika Film Center & Café, and of course, an array of shops to browse everything from jewelry to housewares to clothing to sports gear.

All that action is sure to stoke your appetite, so head to Legacy Hall for a bite at Plano's heavenly three-story food hall. With dozens of bars and local eateries, the hall's vendors serve up zesty barbeque, tasty tacos, and more; along with chef-curated menus, craft cocktails, and events from trivia to live music to movie nights. Legacy Hall is part of the Legacy West "city within a city," lining open-air Windrose Avenue with top stores, specialty shops — and conveniently, the Visit Plano visitor center.

For fantastic fresh-air finds, chill out at the Boardwalk at Granite Park. "The Boardwalk" is part dining, business, and hotel enclave that's linked together by waterfront promenades lined with bars and eateries. Don't miss the Boardwalk's weekly farmer's market every Sunday.

Where to Hitch Your Horse

Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park lbby & bar
Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park lbby & bar  (Source: Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park)

With so many lodging options for Plano's vacationers as well as visitors in for conventions and special events, Visit Plano's Places to Stay is a great starting point for a full roster of the best accommodations around town.

Check in to sweet guestrooms at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West, offering full hotel amenities, including a heated rooftop pool and spa, just steps from the Legacy West dining and retail destination. For convenient lodging within the bustling Shops at Legacy, the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center is walking distance from scores of culinary delights, and it's home to a heated pool and whirlpool, fitness center, and game room.

Just minutes from the Boardwalk at Granite Park (and from several of Plano's biggest company headquarters), fans of industrial-chic decor and loft-style rooms will love the NYLO Dallas Plano Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. In addition to its outdoor courtyard, library, 24-hour gym with sauna, and poolside dining, the hotel offers a free shuttle with access to sports arenas and other attractions. The Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park is situated in the heart of the Boardwalk neighborhood, with all the latest amenities and free business services, plus a patio and fire pit to unwind after a busy day.

A short walk from the Boardwalk, discover the relaxed elegance of the Sandman Signature Plano-Frisco Hotel. Designed with modern décor, guests enjoy large rooms and suites (some are pet-friendly, too), along with two restaurants, an indoor pool, and great discounted-rate packages. It's among so many enticing reasons to saddle up and enjoy Texas-style Plano hospitality.

Disclaimer: The hotels featured in this article are suggestions only; for more lodging options in Plano, please visit:

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.