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. Get ready for your belly to be full of good food, but also take time to take in all of McAllen’s natural beauty, art galleries, science museums, and other must-visit attractions. Keep reading to see all of the best things to do in McAllen TX.
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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!
Enjoy Time on the Water at Firemen’s Park
Town Lake at Fireman’s Park is a perfect spot for fishing, bird watching, or enjoying a scenic picnic. This area has pedal boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards available plus a playground for the kids and plenty of hiking and nature trails. There are even bikes you can rent to ride around the park.
The McAllen Nature Center, with its lush greenery and diverse wildlife, presents an ideal setting for hikers and nature photographers. It has over 200 species of birds plus 80 different types of butterflies. You might even see coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other wildlife. Birding enthusiasts will love spending all their time here to see different bird species.
More Outdoor Activities in McAllen
Palm View Park is another fantastic park with plenty of activities. It’s a great place to stay cool with their splash pad and they even have a free park gym. In general you’ll want to check out the McAllen Parks website because the city of Mcallen is always hosting unique events and outdoor activities such as canvas & coffee, bingo, movie nights, sports competitions, and more.
Not far away lies Zinnia Park, a beloved neighborhood park known for its tranquil ambiance. Zinnia Park offers numerous walking trails, shaded picnic tables, and a community center that hosts various activities throughout the year. The splash pad here is another spot where kids love to visit as it’s the perfect place to stay cool in the Summer months.
Expect that as you plan your Summer vacation you can experience a new park with a spray ground, with water jets, a bike trail, and plenty of fun things to keep kids entertained.
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.
McAllen Nightlife: 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.
Murals in McAllen: 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!
Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge: 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. At the International Museum of Art & Science you can really take part of keeping young ones engaged in educational programs.
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.