Plan a family visit on the weekend or have an evening stroll and take a moment to smell the flowers at Collin County’s best parks before summer says goodbye.
745 S Allen Heights Dr, Allen
Attention sunset lovers: One of the most beautiful places to watch the golden ball drop is in the grassy knoll of this 40-acre park. (Bring a blanket or folding chairs.) Also dazzling: the smattering of bluebonnets in April. Bethany Lakes has four ponds, and some of the resident swans and geese may follow you around like you are a giant piece of Wonder bread, but they are friendly overall (just keep the snacks at one of the 14 picnic sites). Bethany also has a baseball diamond to catch a game or practice your pitch.
County Road 668 (near Blue Ridge)
It’s a wildflower wonderland here at Parkhill. Watch the sunrise (the park is open sunrise to sunset) over the rolling tall-grass hills and blankets of violet wild petunias, fiery Indian paintbrush and meadow pink flowers among other blooms throughout the year. Keep one eye to the sky: Parkhill is known as a nesting spot for the bright yellow-chested meadowlark and dickcissel birds. Playful butterflies abound.
2996 Virginia Pkwy, McKinney
Bonnie Wenk is the Swiss Army knife of parks: a bit of everything for everyone. Check out the beautiful, wide hiking and biking trails, the five-acre fishing pond stocked with catfish, the playground for kids and its separate park and splash pad for pups. Concerts and movies are held at the waterfront amphitheater. The unique fitness court — with suspended rings and other body-strengthening devices — is the Muscle Beach of McKinney.
5901 Los Rios Boulevard (Between Jupiter and Parker Road)
The 800-acre nature preserve has reached Audubon excellence for good reason: Miles of soft-surface path along Rowlett Creek, a fishing pond with adorable turtles and the surrounding untouched landscape are part of a delicate, protected environment that’s home to legit wildlife including bobcats and armadillo. The glass-like surface of the pond is great for stand-up paddleboarding (BYO non-motorized craft). In the summer, a modest zip line experience makes you feel like one of the resident falcons.
8000 McKinney Road, Frisco
A beautifully manicured lawn surrounds the dramatic pavilion at this 63-acre park. There is a large fishing pond stocked with hungry trout, a popular 2.3-mile paved path (that’s about 5,000 steps for all you Fitbit counters) and Hope Park, a large inclusive playground. But the most impressive part of Frisco Commons is the Veterans Memorial Plaza and the Veteran’s Walk of Honor which circles past monuments and plaques commemorating war heroes from 1902, when the city was founded, to WWII and beyond.
6701 Coit Road, Plano
Street-style and bowl enthusiasts rejoice: All skateboarders are welcome at this destination within Carpenter Park. The ledges, ramps and stair sets vary in size for anyone who wants to try something new or step up their game. The unique lighting system here means you can skate at cooler temps and have more time to perfect that ollie. The shaded shelter area is clutch for those who want to watch the show.
4300 Co Rd 1006, McKinney
Erwin Park is among the best places to go for a bike ride while taking in the beautiful prairie landscape. Covered by wildflowers year-round, the eight miles of cross country trails are a triedand-true favorite. There are also two bike repair stations in case you blow a tire. But what makes this spot extra special is the new Erwin Park Skills area — a six-line beginner, intermediate and advanced difficulty downhill jump line drop course. There is no other facility in Collin County like it.
7001 W. Eldorado Pkwy, McKinney
This skate-friendly oasis has 30,000 square feet of concrete so bladers of all skill levels can move comfortably. The skatepark is also a favorite among skateboarders, but note that no bikes or motorized vehicles are allowed. We love that the park was designed with multiple shade structures to keep everyone cool — well, as much as possible — and that the amphitheater-style structure with limestone seating raises the shelter bar for all parks. Note: The skatepark is closed during wet weather.
201 St Mary Dr, Allen
There is so much room for activities here: The Edge is one of the largest skate parks in the state, so expect a good mix of novice and expert talent showing off around the bowls and especially at the BMX-specific track. The V-shaped layout design creates a natural flow with 900 feet of possibility for insane jumps, tricks and sweet downhill turns. Note: Get your fix during the day, because there are no lights at the track.
6701 W Parker Rd, Plano
Arbor Hills offers some of the most family-friendly trails; it’s common to see parents and strollers as well as dogs on leashes here. For families and leisure bikers, three miles of paved bike trails wind around the entire reserve with some light hills. For the more experienced, 2.8 miles of dirt trails loop around part of the preserve, though these are closed when the weather is rough.
Here’s just a few of our favorite local
Spirit Park, Allen
Treehouse playground features bridges, rope bridges and slides.
Liberty Playground at Windhaven Meadows
This large all-abilities playground includes a splash pad.
Monarch View Park, Frisco
A great option for
young kids, set among
Windmill Playground at Frontier Park, Prosper
A big wooden play town with nice murals and some unusual climbing, as well
as a small splash pad.
Bethany Ridge Park, Allen
Vibrantly colored playground with tall steep slides and fun climbing for big kids.
Green Park, Allen
This “first responder” playground is modeled after a fire station and police station.
In case you missed it, here’s Local Profile round up of the best playgrounds in Plano