McAllen TX, located in South Texas, is a city full of vibrant colors, Mexican influence, some of the best festivals in Texas, and more than enough to keep you busy for a weekend or even a whole week. Keep reading to see all of the best things to do in McAllen TX.
Ride a Swan at the Convention Center
The McAllen Convention Center regularly has fun things going on and is a regular gathering spot for locals. On the weekends you can ride the swan pedal boats in their large fountain. When we went there, we were lucky to see that they brought in boats from Xochimilco for us to ride in so you never know what you’ll end up seeing!
Go on a Romantic Picnic
Charming Picnics is a popup picnic company that helps you create a customizable and romantic picnic. You can choose a spot where they set up with one of their numerous picnic decorations including tents and elegant spreads or they can recommend the perfect spot to make the mood.
See Quinta Mazatlan
Quinta Mazatlan is an old Spanish mansion and one of the top birding areas with over 500 different species of birds recorded here. In general, the gardens are beautiful to walk through, and during their open hours you can go inside and see some of the beautiful artwork.
Dance the Night Away
If you’re looking for some great nightlife, McAllen is the spot! 17th Street is full of some of the most fun bars, and if you’re into Spanish music, you are going to find a lot here. A lot of the clubs resemble European clubs and there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for somewhere to chill, somewhere to dance, or even somewhere to jump in a ball pit! You can read all about the McAllen nightlife here.
Do it for the ‘Gram
McAllen has some great murals in an area called #muralson17th. It’s a little hard to find so make sure to save these instructions for later. To find the Murals on 17th in McAllen look for the alley between Brujeria Nightclub and Mezzanine on 17th. You’ll have pictures for your gram for a week!
Climb High Above the Trees
Just a little outside of McAllen is the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. There are plenty of routes for hiking and enjoying nature with all kinds of animals to see. They have observation decks and even a hanging bridge that sit right above the trees for views all around!
Discover the McAllen Culinary Scene
With so much Mexican influence, you know you’re going to get some good and authentic food! However, even with all of the good Mexican food, you might be surprised at how much of an incredible culinary scene McAllen has that goes beyond just Mexican flavors (although some still incorporate it like one of the restaurants, I like to call French-Mex). Do your tastebuds a favor and make sure to check out some of the best restaurants in McAllen.
Visit the International Museum of Art and Science
IMAS or the International Museum of Art and Science is your one-stop shop. The science section does an incredible job of making learning fun with so many interactive exhibits, a 3D globe movie screen, and a planetarium that you can sit inside of.
The art exhibit has a lot of cool hands-on activities such as making paper, animal sculptures, paint, and more. The Mexican and Latin American folk art exhibit is always there, but they regularly rotate out pieces to keep it new and exciting. They also have regular traveling exhibits that come to visit so you never know what you’ll see when you come to visit.
Try All the Different Coffee Shops
There are so many cute and cool coffee shops in McAllen for those who are into the craft of coffee or even just the prettiest, most Instagrammable drink. From beet lattes, iced coffee served in beakers, horchata coffee, and more, there are so many great coffee shops to try in McAllen.
Check out Downtown McAllen
It’s fun to wander around Downtown McAllen. There are plenty of fun shops selling all kinds of goods, fashions, and formal dresses at affordable prices. You can spend hours wandering around all of the different spots. Here are some of my must-stop shops.
Agatha has so many cute items in store. I loved all of the colorful pieces and even going out of my comfort zone for some things I wouldn’t have considered before. They also have some great accessories like bold earrings and beautiful hair pieces.
If you’re looking for some great shoes on a budget, Millys sells almost all of their shoes for less than $13 including heels, flats, and sandals. I could easily go other places and buy these shoes for $40-$100 and I found so many great shoes that I get compliments all the time and no one knows how cheap they are!
For all things sparkly, glitz, and glam, Fiusha is a great place to amp up your wardrobe when you really want to impress.
Listen to a Mariachi Band
Nanas Taqueria is a great place to go to feel like you’re in Mexico with the architecture and art. While they have some great food you have to try, make sure to come at night for live music. On Thursdays they have a mariachi band, and on Friday they have Norteno. Make sure to reserve a table because they get packed. There’s also a gift shop you’ll want to check out with all sorts of beautiful Mexican handmade goods.
See the Top Artists in an Intimate Venue
The Landmark is a Miami-styled tropical club in the middle of McAllen. You feel like you’ve crossed multiple states as soon as you walk in. Most nights it’s a place to hang out with friends and order a top-notch cocktail and food from the food trucks. However, on certain nights this venue also holds some of the best concerts. Having been in the industry for years, the owners are able to bring in artists who are passing through on their way to large concert venues where they’ll play for 10,000s of people and convince them to perform for 800 here in their intimate venue. Not only that, but the owners are incredible at finding up and coming artists usually just months before they become so big that everyone is talking about them. Make sure to check their Instagram page to see what’s going on, because they have concerts so regularly and they’re always a hit!
Make Friends with Teacup Pigs
During the Fall and Winter months, Maddie’s Pumpkin Patch opens up for fun family photos, hayrides, and great activities. They do a fall pumpkin patch, Christmas Winter Wonderland, and February Valentine’s theme. One thing I loved were the cute teacup pigs running around!
Unwind at the Spa
Sitting in a car or plane for hours is no fun, and there’s nothing like starting a good vacation with a nice spa. Spa La Posada has something for everyone. Their team is so talented and did a phenomenal job of making me feel comfortable. Whenever visiting a spa on vacation, I’m looking for a place that will help work out the tension in my back while also providing relaxation, and the masseuse knew exactly how to provide that perfect balance. They have some great massage options and you can even opt to add in some CBD oil for extra relaxation.
After a wonderful massage, I headed over for a mani-pedi while enjoying a nice warm cup of tea.
This spa really does have everything. You can spend a whole day getting relaxed and pampered and then get glammed up at their hair and makeup salon. They are a deva cut certified salon which is important for my curly girls and even has a barbershop for the men.
After all that pampering, I spent some time walking around their boutique, Leona Styles, which had a little bit of everything including fun party dresses, elegant jumpsuits, and casual cute wear perfect for the weekend.
Take a Trip Over to Nuevo Progreso
Nuevo Progreso is a Mexican border town that makes for a fun day trip! We ordered pina coladas and then walked around the streets eating tacos, elotes, sweet gorditas, and more. There was plenty of shopping and even some dancing! Read all about all of the fun things to do in Nuevo Progreso.
Visit a Tropical Oasis
If you’re looking for a place to stay in McAllen, TX check out Casa De Palmas which looks like a Spanish tropical resort. The hotel is absolutely stunning with the fountains and hanging trees. Plus, they are located close to everything and provide a free shuttle for your use! You can read all about our experience at Casa De Palmas.
Check out the Incredible Festivals & Events
McAllen easily has some of the best events and festivals going on. There’s something going on just about every weekend so make sure to check out their events before planning your trip in case you see something exciting!
- MXLAN is a 5-day event in July in McAllen that brings Mexico to the states. The city chooses an area to highlight, travels to that area, and brings back different vendors, artisans, performances, and more to make McAllen feel a little bit like somewhere else.
- Fiesta de Palmas in September features food, performances, and games and activities from around the world and is put on together with the Mexican consulate.
- Tecate Catrina Fest – During the weekend of Dia de los Muertos (Nov 1), McAllen hosts the Catrina festival, a Mexican music festival.
- Tamale Fest – In November the Boys and Girls Club hosts a tamale festival where 1000’s come out to prove their family makes the best tamales, participate in the tamale eating festival, listen to music, and eat lots of good Mexican food!
Things to Do in McAllen TX: Final Thoughts
McAllen was such a gem to visit! I couldn’t believe how many things there were to do in McAllen. We never really had any down time because we were so busy trying new foods, exploring new sights, and learning all about this town. I definitely want to come back for some of the incredible festivals they host, but no matter what, McAllen is definitely a special spot!
Looking for other great spots to visit:
- El Paso – Although heavily influenced by Mexican culture, El Paso has a vibe of its own.
- Castroville – Or travel to the France of Texas in this small town.
- Big Bend – Enjoy time outdoors hiking and exploring the beauty of Texas!