This article originally appeared in our January/February 2023 edition of Local Profile.
Browse the whole issue to make sure you start the new year on the right foot by checking the 23 things to make 2023 the best year ever. Keep your New Year’s resolutions on track and take a look at what local leaders do to be the best at home, at work and in the community.
Planning a whole trip can be very stressful: locating an accessible destination, finding a way to actually get there, choosing activities to do once you arrived, selecting places to eat and you haven’t even started packing yet.
They may not be as exotic, but staycations take off the pressure of long-distance travel by keeping everything you could ever need at arms reach while at the same time giving you the opportunity to get better acquainted with your own local community.
From where to stay to where to eat and what to do, here’s everything you need to know to plan your own staycation adventure in Collin County.
Where to Stay
Renaissance Dallas at Legacy West Hotel
Book a luxury stay at the Renaissance Hotel in Plano and remove driving around the city from your weekend itinerary. Try restaurant-hopping around Legacy West, starting with Bulla Gastrobar, a tapas-style restaurant that’s ideal for appetizers, then head to Kai for drinks enhanced by their neon lights and club atmosphere and, finally, share a main course at Toulouse, a French restaurant-styled like a bistro. Before you return to your hotel, visit the Plano House of Comedy Club for some laughs and Farm and Feed for late-night dessert with a side of board games. In the morning, be sure to check out Press Waffle Co. inside Legacy Hall for a sweetly designed brunch and then head to shops such as Neighborhood Goods, Another Time & Place and West Elm so you can bring the relaxing energy of your staycation home with new decor.
6007 Legacy Drive, Plano | (469) 925-1800
Step back in time for the night by staying at a historic hotel. Built in 1885, this stunning red-brick building is right in the center of all of McKinney’s finest shopping and dining options. Enjoy a stay in their rooms, which feature stunning wooden bed frames, exposed brick and luxury linens. If you don’t want to stray from the premises, dine at Rick’s Chophouse for a classy atmosphere and delicious steak, followed by Prohibition-Era-inspired cocktails at Room One Eleven, an upscale speakeasy. (You’ll have to find the password on social media and then enter through a hidden Coca-Cola door.) For breakfast the next day, join the line at Bresnan Bakery, owned by a husband-and-wife duo who serve up quality artisan breads and pastries. Finish off your staycation by shopping at boutiques such as Spice and Tea Merchants, Birds & Words, Pumps, and McKinney Knittery.
114 W. Louisiana St., McKinney | (214) 726-9250
Omni Frisco Hotel
Whether you’re searching for an easy stay during a sporting event or just want to forget the daily grind and have a bite, this luxury hotel next to The Star is ready for you. Enjoy tea and sandwiches in Heirloom Haul’s airy environment, head down the road to view the Texas Sculpture Garden, watch sports and indulge in some dancing at Concrete Cowboy, shop for high-end accessories at Charlotte Jones Collection and, finally, accessorize a custom hat at Flea Style. When you’re just about ready to conclude the evening, head to Snowbird Cocktail Lounge to test their photogenic drink options.
11 Cowboys Way, Frisco | (469) 287-0000
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to appreciate this serenely designed Hobbit House in McKinney! Hosts Maria and Ben have gone to great lengths to offer an otherworldly experience. It features a handmade round door with custom welding, an intricately built bathroom with stone accents and landscaping that will leave you questioning whether you teleported to the Shire.
Hiatus Spa and Retreat
Relaxation begins with the proper atmosphere, and Hiatus Spa takes this sentiment seriously. Enter through their softly lit hallways and sample fresh hot tea before making your way back for a treatment. Enjoy everything from soothing massages to nail therapy with zero-gravity chairs. They can even customize their facials to fit your skin’s needs.
6101 Chapel Hill Blvd., Suite 102, Plano | (972) 836-0500
Where to Eat
Dessert is the most (emotionally) important meal of the day. Emporium Pies must share this sentiment because they bake an average of 250 pies per day across all of their locations. Each one is handmade, includes fresh ingredients, and is free of additives and artificial preservatives. They switch up their menu according to the season and understand the necessity of utilizing produce at its peak time.
“Even though technology and globalization have allowed for our diets to be whatever seems the most delicious year-round, we are all still drawn to the traditional foods of each season,” said CEO and co-founder Megan Wilkes. “Couple the tradition of flavors like citrus in spring, berries in summer and pumpkin in fall with the fact that all of those ingredients are at peak freshness at the time, and you have a recipe for success.”
107 S. Tennessee St., McKinney | (214) 491-1577
Henry’s Ice Cream
Say less — the slogan “Ice Cream Makes You Pretty!” is enough to convince us to grab a cone. Henry’s Ice Cream moved from Philadelphia to Plano back in 1992 and has been serving homemade ice cream ever since! They even provide catering and ensure that you’ll look like a hero at your next event with their range of flavors and toppings. No matter the weather, it’s always the right time for ice cream.
3100 Independence Parkway, Plano | (972) 943-3639
The Latin Pig
This family owned and operated Cuban restaurant hones in on recipes that have been perfected over a lifetime. The owner’s mother is the chef, and it’s easy to taste that homemade flavor when you try any of their dishes. Our favorites include picadillo, a dish made with sautéed ground beef, fresh vegetables and rice, as well as the popular Cubano sandwich and pollo guisado.
3131 Custer Road, Suite 165, Plano | (972) 985-9760
There’s always an aura of excitement and spontaneity around food trucks. Taste test perfectly seasoned gyro fries if you stumble upon Greek Girl Goodies or pick up crispy pork belly sliders from Street Bites. If you’re craving an out-of-the-box combo, JK Délicieux’s Grill serves Congolese and Mexican fusion and offers quesadillas, kabobs, samosas and catfish.
If it’s difficult to chase down just one, you can always stop by Truck Yard in The Colony, where various food trucks take up residence every day. You might even wander into their garage art exhibit, which houses 1,000 intricately painted toilet seats.
5959 Grove Lane, The Colony | (469) 401-6764
Frisco Fresh Market
Rain or shine — it makes no difference at this Frisco farmers market, which is open every Saturday and Sunday. Apart from its local produce and freshly prepared food offerings, the market also includes chef demonstrations and music.
9215 John W. Elliott Drive, Frisco | (844) 776-2753
Local Yocal Farm to Market
Local Yocal’s approach emphasizes quality over quantity, which is why their site notes that “quality grass-fed beef cannot be produced on a large industrial scale.” If you want a lesson on their tomahawk, wagyu and sirloin, then check out their lineup of Steak 101 classes, in which you’ll be instructed on the types of cuts and grilling practices and be able to taste test over 17 cuts of meat. Become what they call a steakologist.
213 N. Tennessee St., McKinney | (469) 952-3838
It might be physically impossible to not drive over to EatZi’s after viewing their daily specials online. Although they offer temptations that do not fit the bill of eating healthier, you can still say you’ll be eating better. EatZi’s offers a variety of made-from-scratch meals crafted from their collection of 4,000 proprietary recipes. Favorites include their fresh-baked bread, pastas, produce, sushi, custom sandwiches, cookies and famous mac ’n’ cheese.
5967 W. Parker Road, Plano | (972) 535-6305
Every Collin County local knows the ins and outs of Central Market, but the novelty of this gourmet grocery store never wears off. Take a cooking class and then pick up all of the ingredients you’ll need to recreate the recipe for your next dinner party. Or head to one of the two new H-E-B locations in Plano or Frisco if you haven’t already. (How many other grocery stores have confetti and marching bands at their grand openings?)
Central Market: 320 Coit Road, Plano | (469) 241-8300
H-E-B Plano: 6001 Preston Road, Suite 100, Plano | (469) 395-0660
H-E-B Frisco: 4800 Main St., Frisco | (469) 473-4419
What to Do
Experience the New
The PGA Frisco project features more developments and amenities than we can wrap our heads around, but we’ll try to list a few: two 18-hole world-class courses, a 30-acre practice facility, the Omni PGA Frisco Resort and a 3.5-mile hiking and biking trail.
4341 PGA Parkway, Frisco
Grand Park’s Big Bluestem Trail
One of the best parts of living in Collin County is having easy access to parks. The latest? Frisco’s Grand Park project just unveiled Big Bluestem Trail in late November 2022. The 12-foot-wide trail winds across two miles of unpaved parkland and is an excellent way to explore nature close to home. This is only the first phase of the project, so expect to see more soon.
Located off Cotton Gin Road between Dallas Parkway and Legacy Drive
Check out the rustic charm of Tupps Brewery’s new McKinney location! They’ve remodeled a 120-year-old grain mill, and the location will house an entire retail community shopping area across 40,000 square feet of buildings. You can pregame for your visit by viewing a virtual tour on their website.
721 Anderson St., McKinney | (214) 856-7996
University of North Texas, Frisco
The University of North Texas’ newest campus is on the verge of opening and will be the only four-year tier-one research university in Frisco. Although they plan on starting small with around 3,500 students this year, they expect to grow to 25,000 students over the next two to three decades. Their initial facility, named Frisco Landing, is a sleek, modern building that is more reminiscent of a Silicon Valley office space than a university campus.
2811 Internet Blvd., Suite 100, Frisco | (972) 668-7100
Hall Park Redevelopment
Hall Park, which encompasses 162 acres, is currently being redeveloped with a $7 billion plan that will improve the district over the next two decades. Plans include a new performing arts center, boutique hotel, luxury residential tower, 10,000-square-foot food hall and a community park. The park, which is expected to open in the fall of this year, has a large dedicated space for children and also includes a dog park, event lawn and performance pavilion.
6801 Gaylord Parkway, Frisco | (972) 377-1100
Get to Know Collin County
Fun fact: Collin County was founded in 1846 and named after Collin McKinney, one of the five men who drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence. Digging deep into local history always feels like something we can put off until later — history isn’t going anywhere, right? This year, make it a point to discover the unique foundations that created our thriving county.
Collin County History Museum
Step back in time and see a vision of McKinney from the 1800s. A new augmented reality exhibit allows museum guests to scan historic images of the city with an iPad and compare them to what currently stands in their place. If you can’t visit in person, check their site (collincountyhistorymuseum.org) for special Zoom tours and take a trip back in time through your screen.
300 E. Virginia St., McKinney | (972) 542-9457
Heritage Farmstead Museum
A farm in the middle of the city? Find a slice of history in the busy streets of Plano by visiting Heritage Farmstead Museum. The museum has a collection of antique furnishings and decor from the original owners. Hang out with farm animals and relish the thought of simpler times. Be sure to mark your calendars for events during the holiday season so you can enjoy their decor and lights. If you’re looking for a prime spot to host your next event or even a wedding, they offer a variety of affordable packages.
1900 W. 15th St., Plano | (972) 881-0140
Frisco Heritage Center
“Exploring the Past, Imagining the Future” is the motto at this Frisco landmark! Enjoy 16,000 square feet of exhibits and learn about the rapid changes that shaped the city. After you wander around indoors, explore their four-acre heritage village and see old log cabins, schoolhouses, trains and more. Last, don’t forget to check out their collection of Frisco Public Art, which features intricate sculptures depicting everything from original settlers to memorials to our firefighters.
6455 Page St., Frisco | (972) 292-5111
Allen Heritage Center
Visit a village that maintains some of Allen’s oldest homes and churches. The center also includes Allen Depot, which maintains permanent exhibits, including photo collages and video programs revolving around the city’s development. Take a look at the Old Stone Dam, which helped the railroad system grow across Texas in the 1870s. This particular water feature was built for steam locomotives, which needed fresh water supplies at every ten-mile interval. (Imagine getting around DFW if your car operated like that!)
100 E. Main St., Allen | (972) 396-8546
Heard-Craig Center for the Arts
If art history is your preference, head to the Heard-Craig Center to view their curated gallery of local historic pieces. The Center was founded in 1900 and then gifted by the founders’ daughter to groups that helped cultivate the city of McKinney by providing scholarships to residents, building libraries and donating to those in need. They’ve got everything from hand-painted China to fine porcelain pieces and Victorian furniture. They offer lectures as well, so be sure to check out their schedule and see what’s next.
205 W. Hunt St., McKinney | (972) 569-6909
Plano Mutual Cemetery
Although museums are typically defined as buildings, cemeteries meet just about all of the other criteria when it comes to housing history. Plano Mutual Cemetery has thousands of graves across its 16 acres of land, with many dating back to the 1800s. Nearly half of the former mayors of the city are buried there. Former Collin County Judge Nathan White has a passion for Plano history and has spent 30 years on the board that maintains Plano Mutual Cemetery. According to White, “There really is no other active cemetery within the city, other than Plano Mutual.” White recommends that locals stop by and take a look at the boards to read the full story and receive a better understanding of how far the cemetery has come.
2128 18th St., Plano | (214) 450-9277
Explore the Outdoors
Learn about the mysterious inner workings of the llama mind with a visit to a castle that is home to several royally named llamas. ShangriLlama Castle is prepared to teach you llama facts (our current favorite: at dusk, llamas release their energy by jumping up and down — their form of zoomies). Their property features two castles, one of which is a replica of Waterford Castle in Ireland. Groom, walk and feed friendly llamas — which we’re told do not spit at people unless they feel disrespected — on their lovely 10 acres of land in Royse City. How did this llama dynasty all begin?
“Many families indulge their children who ask for a dog or cat or rabbit,” said co-owner and “Mama Llama” Sharon Brucato. “It’s good for kids to learn how to care for animals. But our son Tommy asked for llamas!”
Crape Myrtle Trail
Did you know that there are two correct spellings for this tree: crepe or crape? (Technically it’s a Lagerstroemia, but most everyone would get that spelling wrong.) Although they are native to Asia, they are known for handling Texan weather like pros and are a staple in our neighborhoods. Enjoy their vibrant, long-lasting flowers in McKinney where an entire trail is dedicated to their blooming, warm pink hues. The World Collection Park offers benches to enjoy the view, as well as informative signage so you can learn how to better care for them.
6452 Collin McKinney Parkway, McKinney | (972) 547-7480
Receiving the recommended amount of vitamin D is no joke — your immune system can’t thrive without it! If you’re looking for the quickest way to source a natural supply of it, check out Erwin Park in McKinney or Hidden Grove Park and Marina in Frisco for a camping trip. If your family isn’t one with nature (yet), these close-to-home sites offer all the benefits of spending the night outdoors without the risk of being hours away from the conveniences of home.
Erwin Park: 4200 County Road 1006, McKinney | (972) 547-2690
Hidden Grove Park: 20400 Hackberry Creek Park Road, Frisco | (972) 294-1443
If any coastal natives have ever asked you what it’s like being landlocked in North Texas, it’s easy to tell them that we don’t mind — we’ve got an abundance of lakes. Lavon Lake is known for its excellent fishing, hiking trails and marinas and is located just a short drive away. Of course, if you’re searching for a larger one, Lake Lewisville has everything as well, right down to a makeshift beach and volleyball nets.
Lavon Lake (Twin Groves Park): 3000 East Highway 380, Princeton | (972) 442-3141
Lake Lewisville (Hickory Creek Park): 1201 Point Vista Road, Hickory Creek | (877) 444-6777
Visit a Museum
National Videogame Museum
Interact with a giant Pong set, take a photo with Donkey Kong and other Nintendo favorites, and sit down and sample classic arcade games. This museum, the first dedicated gaming museum in the country, even has displays dedicated to video games that are regarded as the worst ever. If you want to show younger friends and family a true time capsule, check out the setups of what typical teen bedrooms and family living rooms looked like in the ’80s. How rad is that?
8004 Dallas Pkwy., Frisco | (972) 668-8400
Heard Natural Science Museum
How many other museums can say that their backyard is a 289-acre nature preserve? Meet a 46-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex and his band of fellow animatronic dinosaurs, swing through a ropes course and travel back in time with fossil exhibits that showcase ancient marine predators. The museum also has a wildlife sanctuary on site that protects various species of animals and plant life.
1 Nature Place, McKinney | (972) 562-5566
National Cowgirl Museum
Dedicated to all things cowgirl, the National Cowgirl Museum educates visitors on the development of the profession and how it allowed women to pursue a career during a time when they had minimal opportunities available. Walk through displays of various types of cowgirl attire and dig deeper into Western fashion. You can even utilize their interactive displays to design your own boots and horse!
1720 Gendy St., Fort Worth | (817) 336-4475
Interurban Railway Museum
This mini museum packs a cargo full of information inside! Wondering what Downtown Plano looked like 100 years ago? The museum has an O-Scale model featuring motorized train cars, and they even have an interactive electricity-focused section where guests can learn about magnetism and battery circuits.
901 E. 15th St., Plano | (972) 941-2117