Travel » International

Visit Plano: Texas's Undiscovered Gem

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Sep 7, 2018

Head north of Dallas to discover a city booming with destination-worthy restaurants, cultural and scenic attractions, and a range of accommodations that suit every budget. And for those ready to revamp their wardrobes, Plano boasts a massive amount of retail space soaring over 26 million square feet and featuring national brands along with local businesses that celebrate Texan style and creativity.

The 15th Street light rail connects downtown Plano to Dallas, further strengthening its connection to the region's best innovators and tastemakers - all the more reason to check out the North Texas Pride Festival and year-round activities that make Plano a picture-perfect getaway any time of year.

Here is our can't-miss list of what to do, what to eat, and where to stay:

The Crayola Experience at the Shops at Willow Bend
The newly opened Crayola Experience features more than 60,000 square feet of rainbow-colored activities for the whole family and is a welcomed addition for local and visiting LGBTQ families. Kids will find plenty of entertainment within the venue's activity studio and adventure lab, along with live shows at Café Stage and Color Magic's augmented reality experience.

SouthFork Ranch
"Like my daddy always said, where there's a way, there's a will," said the fictional JR Ewing on one of television's most notable series, "Dallas." (He also said, "Sue Ellen, you're a drunk, a tramp, and an unfit mother" long before contestants were reading each other on "RuPaul's Drag Race.") Fans of the show can explore the legendary grounds, which were used for thirteen years of filming during the original season and an additional three for the reboot. Explore the ranch on a trail ride, tour the mansion, or coordinate your visit with special events like MuckFest, Music Fest at SouthFork Ranch, and more.

Dine Around Town

There are plenty of options for a great meal in Plano, whether you're looking for a casual bite or a Texas-size feast.

Lockhart Smokehouse -- Ready for some Central Texas-style barbecue? Pitmaster Tim McLaughlin's sliced-to-order meats include brisket, shoulder clod, pork chops, ribs, and more - and don't forget to try the Kreuz sausages -- the classic 110-year-old recipe or its modern counterpart made with jalapeño and cheddar.

Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar -- Craft cocktails and farm fresh comfort food reign supreme at Whiskey Cake, including smoky favorites off the mesquite wood grill.

Sixty Vines -- Innovation is key at Sixty Vines, where wine on tap draws perfectly preserved wine from steel kegs, eliminating oxidation. To date, the restaurant's two locations have saved more than 35,000 bottles from going into landfills. The global tap program is continually evolving and has featured Albariño from California, Chardonnay from Burgundy, and yes -- even a Rhone-style blend from Texas.

Mexican Sugar -- A celebration of Mexican cuisine coupled with an expansive tequila library makes Mexican Sugar a must-eat spot. Standouts include the squash blossom quesadilla, spicy habanero chicken, and the wow-factor whole roasted red snapper with mango mojo. Wash it all down with a smoked pineapple margarita (Blanco tequila, Sombra mezcal, pineapple, and combiner).

Legacy Hall -- Can't make up your mind? Head to Legacy Food Hall, which offers 22 globally and locally inspired dining options under one roof, a fully operating brewery, happy hour specials, and easy access to some of the best shopping in town.

The Great Outdoors

Oak Point Park and Nature Reserve -- Head to the great outdoors to experience more than 800 acres of natural beauty. Eight miles of trails offer scenic vistas or go vertical at Go Ape Oak Point Park, an outdoor treetop adventure packed with 39 crossings ranging from zip lines and Tarzan swings to rope ladders and more.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve -- Located on Plano's western border, Arbor Hills is another Insta-worthy destination for outdoor recreation, including walking/biking trails as well as an off-road cycling trail. The Preserve features three distinct ecoregions: Blackland Prairie (lots of spring wildflowers), Riparian Forest (thick vines and birdwatching), and Upland Forest (highest elevation with elusive coyotes and bobcats).

Stay & Play

Aloft Plano -- An airy, contemporary feel provides a relaxing backdrop after the day's adventures. Property highlights include platform beds with plush linens, exclusive bathroom amenities by Bliss Spa, heated outdoor pool and a 24/7 fitness center.

Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West -- Asian touches and Texas flair converge in this one-of-a-kind property that celebrates Plano's traditions while still keeping an eye on modern design. Book a corner room for sprawling views of downtown Dallas with floor-to-ceiling windows, and be sure to allow enough time for shopping at Legacy West, where you'll find retailers including Bonobos, Warby Parker, Coach, and Levi's. Cap off the night with a drink at Whiskey Moon, featuring a curated collection of Texas and Japanese whiskeys.

NYLO Plano at Legacy -- Fans of industrial chic will fall head over heels for NYLO's unique aesthetic. Go hog wild in the Lifestyle Loft Suite featuring polished concrete, natural woods, and an outdoor space perfect for a night under the Texas moon.

Don't Miss

North Texas Pride Festival -- More than 1,000 attendees from North Texas and beyond descend upon Haggard Park each June for an annual LGBTQ celebration benefitting various social service organizations. June 2019

Plano Balloon Festival -- The sky turns into a floating rainbow parade each September with 40 balloon launches (along with tethered balloon rides for those who want to dabble in off-the-ground fun), live entertainment, fireworks, and food vendors. September 21-23, 2018

Downtown Plano Art and Wine Walk -- Monthly walks (second Thursdays, April through December) are an ideal way to explore Plano's Arts District, where visitors can discover curated art exhibits and sample select wines.

Each month offers a different theme. Fall highlights include Urban Playground (September 13), Grape State of Texas (October 11), and Neon Night (November 8).

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Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Senior Editor of Travel, Lifestyle, Health & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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