Plano Serves up a Slice of the Unexpected

Nov 9, 2021

Overnight getaways aren't reserved for far-flung destinations. Given the opportunity, the welcoming Texas city of Plano might just prove that point. Blending small-town vibes with the amenities of a city twice its size, Plano has an abundance of delicious food, friendly folks, great shopping, family fun, green spaces and only-here attractions.

Explore for a few days and you’ll understand why this suburban city north of Dallas so often ranks highly on best-of city lists (including happiest, best for a staycation, safety and livability).

Read on to discover just a few of the ways Plano will exceed your expectations.

The Outdoors

Oak Point Park

Plano's whopping 4,370 acres of parkland proves that you don't have to go to the country to spend time in nature. Get acquainted with the city's green spaces by taking a stroll through Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. For an easy walk along a paved path, start at the Nature and Retreat Center and follow signs to the lake. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to diverge onto well-maintained natural paths to get a closer look at the beautiful local flora in wooded areas along the creek.

For a different perspective on Oak Point Park, join fellow adventurers at Go Ape and soar through the treetops on a zip line or Tarzan swing. Adults and kids ages 10+ can join in the fun.

Southfork Ranch

Maybe you wouldn't associate Plano with a filming location, but fans of the TV series "Dallas" will recognize Southfork Ranch as the home of the Ewing family. Visit to tour the grounds and see memorabilia—including Lucy’s wedding dress and the gun that shot J.R. Even if you (or your traveling companions) have never seen an episode, it's worth visiting the famous ranch for a horseback trail ride.

The Food

The food scene here is vast and covers more cuisines than you might expect. Outposts of national favorites, trendy food halls filled with local chef's concoctions, and unassuming hidden gems make up the delicious landscape. 

Legacy Hall

You won't be able to taste everything you want to try in a short visit, so start at Legacy Hall—Plano's mecca for innovative (and Instagrammable) eats. In the three-story hall, you'll find more than 20 vendors who offer a bit of everything, from the handheld chicken and waffles at Buttercup Chicken Tenders to gourmet marshmallow treats at Mallow Box. Crowd-pleasing foods (like tacos, burgers, BBQ, pizza and ramen) are available too, so even your picky eaters can order something to fit their craving. Once everyone has their perfect plate, post up at a picnic table in the garden and watch a game of cornhole while you eat.

Boardwalk at Granite Park

Another spot great for its variety is the Boardwalk at Granite Park. Grab a latte from Golden Boy Coffee and take it for a walk along the waterfront while mulling over which restaurant patio fits your mood. If you time it right, your visit will overlap with live music or the weekly Sunday farmers market.

For true local flavor, have dinner at Dumpling House—a family-owned restaurant specializing in northern Chinese food. Fill up the table with your favorites, but be sure to order the handmade dumplings stuffed with veggies and your choice of protein (including pork, chicken, shrimp and beef). This level of authenticity can't be found everywhere, so consider branching out and trying a new dish.

The Shops

image courtesy of Neighborhood Goods

While you're hunting for your next meal, you're likely to stumble across loads of shops, and that's because some of the city's best restaurants are, conveniently, neighbors to the best shopping. One such example: Legacy West which is also home to Legacy Food Hall. This is where you'll find the city's most high-end shops including Gucci, Coach and Tesla, alongside locally owned specialty shops like Read Between the Lines and the stylish, curated department store Neighborhood Goods. Then just down the block are the Shops at Legacy, where stores like clothing boutique Impeccable Pig, Kendra Scott Jewelry and Urban Outfitters have locations. 

For a one-of-a-kind look, stop at Dallas Vintage Shop. This no-frills store focuses on costumes and vintage pieces that span decades and styles. You can lose hours looking through the clothing, hats, wigs, glasses and countless accessories. 

About two miles away, the Downtown Arts District's brick streets are lined with historic buildings that serve as storefronts. Spend the afternoon window shopping and stop into stores like Sutton Place Furniture, where they sell antiques and unique secondhand goods at affordable prices and with great service.

While you're downtown, be sure to drop by Holman Pottery, which is located in a gorgeous green Victorian cottage built in 1890. The shop sells wheel-thrown and handcrafted pots made by the owner, along with glass art, sculpture and jewelry handmade by artists across the U.S.

Family Fun

Entertain the little ones at Crayola Experience where the 20+ hands-on attractions combine chemistry, tech and color for hours of engagement. Your kids will have the opportunity to name and wrap their own crayon, create melted wax drip art, play on the color playground and learn how crayons are made in a live show. At the end of your adventure, leave time for the gift shop where you'll fill a box of crayons using only your favorite colors. Folks of all ages can have fun here, but it's best suited for ages 3-10.

Take a step into the past with a visit to Heritage Farmstead Museum. The on-site Victorian farmhouse was built on a 365-acre wheat farm in 1891 as home to a farmer and her businessman husband. After the couple's divorce, the matriarch and her champion sheep-breeding daughter ran the farm until the 1970s. After a million-dollar restoration, the home and 4.5 acres now serve as a living history museum. 

Here, you're able to tour the farmhouse, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shed and visit with turkeys and chickens in their coops (the animals are sure to be a hit with the kids.) The museum also has old Ford automobiles, carriages and 10,000 artifacts from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Where to stay

Perhaps because Plano is home to outposts of several corporate offices (like Frito-Lay, FedEx and Toyota) and therefore a large influx of business travelers, the hotels here are plentiful and excellent. 

Whiskey Moon at Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West

One great choice, Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West, will set your stay within walking distance of the shops at Legacy West and dining spots at Legacy Hall. The décor here is Asia meets Texas, best displayed in the onsite Asian fusion restaurant and cocktail bar Whiskey Moon.

Nearby, across from a park and walkable to the Shops at Legacy, is Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center. Guest rooms are stylishly outfitted, some featuring balconies with park views.

Or you can stay on the waterfront at Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park, where the contemporary rooms will make for a cozy and quiet retreat after a long day of exploring.

Ready to head out on your own unexpected getaway? Read about where to stay, things to do and places to eat then start planning your weekend away.

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