McKinney, Texas, earned the No. 2 spot on Money Magazine’s 2012 list of “Best Places to Live in America” – and this city of 141,000 is one of the nation’s best getaways, too.
Located north of Dallas, McKinney calls itself “unique by nature.” One visit reveals many of the reasons this is true. Natural assets lend a singular beauty to the community, with rolling hills, verdant open spaces, tree-lined streets and plentiful parks, lakes and streams. Known for having one of the oldest authentic downtown districts in Texas, McKinney also has a historic district of 1,400 homes, buildings and museums.
In addition to its small-town charm, McKinney also offers wide-ranging opportunities for visitors to satisfy every item on their list of cool things to do and see. Topping the must-see list is downtown McKinney, where preserved history meets thriving contemporary commerce. Over 100 one-of-a-kind shops and a dozen restaurants, including the Cadillac Pizza Pub, line picturesque streets.
McKinney’s town square is home to the Historic Collin County Courthouse, built in 1875. The former government building houses one of the city’s most popular attractions, the McKinney Performing Arts Center. The group stages productions most weekends. Carriage rides, wine tastings, art galleries and live entertainment all add to the ambiance.
Another item on McKinney’s must-see list is the Chestnut Square Historic Village. Located south of downtown, Chestnut Square’s 2.5-acre grounds include six historic homes, a one-room schoolhouse, general store, blacksmith shop, smokehouse and chapel. Tours are available Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11 a.m. Intrepid visitors can take a lantern-lit ghost tour every third Saturday at 8 p.m. to explore McKinney’s spookier side.
Downtown McKinney is the starting point for even more historic treasures. At the Convention and Visitors Bureau, pick up a handout for a self-guided historic walking tour that begins northwest of the courthouse. Stroll through nearby neighborhoods to survey more than 40 homes showcasing distinct architecture from the late 1800s through 1920.
Tourists can explore natural treasures at the 289-acre Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. This popular McKinney attraction features nature trails, exotic animal exhibits and amphibian and reptile displays. Adventurous types can try out the ropes courses to gain a new perspective on nature.
For competitive outdoor adventures, McKinney offers diverse sports venues. Tourists can watch or play golf, baseball, soccer, tennis, cricket, lacrosse, disc golf or hockey. Scenic city parks have room for dogs to roam, as well as lighted baseball diamonds and comfortable event pavilions.
McKinney hosts annual and ongoing events for residents and tourists alike. Each February, the Krewe of Barkus Mardi Gras Dog Parade and Festival comes to town. A family favorite, the parade invites humans and their canine companions to show off their craziest, most colorful costumes as they stroll through the downtown district. Another longtime favorite is Third Monday Trade Days, held one weekend each month for treasure hunters. The event continues a century-old McKinney tradition and is the largest flea market in North Texas.