Our visit to Plano was hosted by Visit Plano. The opinions expressed in this piece are strictly our own and are based on our experiences.
Plano, Texas, is an upscale suburb about 20 miles north of Dallas. But Plano is so much more than that. It’s a hive of artistic activity, wonderful shopping, and incredible and diverse dining. There’s so much to see and do that you could easily spend a weekend there and never have a dull moment.
Here’s how to have a fantastic weekend getaway in Plano.
What To See And Do
Explore The Historic Downtown Plano Arts District
The Historic Downtown Plano Arts District is full of historic buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Architecture lovers and history buffs will enjoy wandering the streets of this charming neighborhood. The shopping and dining will keep you busy for a few hours. The special events like art and wine walks, scavenger hunts, and holiday markets are great for the whole family. Check the calendar for special events when making your plans.
Stroll Along The Boardwalk At Granite Park
When the weather permits, there’s nothing more fun than strolling along a lovely boardwalk with a waterfront view. Home to great places to eat, drink, and play, the Boardwalk at Granite Park is popular with locals and visitors alike.
This beautiful oasis nestled among office buildings, retail shops, hotels, and restaurants feels different depending on when you go. In the morning, you’ll find a brunch crowd enjoying a meal with a scenic view. Later on, you’ll find a lively hangout for dinner and late-night fun. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and feel your stress drift away!
Visit The Interurban Railway Museum
Plano’s free Interurban Railway Museum, located in Historic Downtown Plano, is a unique museum that’s fun for transportation buffs and history buffs alike. Part of the museum is the restored Car 360 from the Texas Electric Railway. It was used to deliver mail, and you can go inside to see how it worked. The other part of the museum includes exhibits on electricity, transportation, and railway history and culture.
Enjoy The Plano Balloon Festival At The Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve
The Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve offers 800 acres of the great outdoors. There are 13 miles of nature trails and a creek in Plano’s largest park. If you feel like more activity, you can go canoeing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding there.
The park also hosts the amazing Plano Balloon Festival every fall, along with a half-marathon and other events. During the festival, the busy grounds hum with live bands, food booths, and balloon-focused activities, including the Balloon Launch, Balloon Fly-In Competition, and Balloon Glow. Texans and visitors alike look forward to this popular event.
Tour Southfork Ranch
Fans of the television series Dallas will recognize the name of Southfork Ranch. Just a few miles outside of Plano, the ranch is one of the most famous in the world, and it’s worth a visit. You’ll get to see the Ewing Mansion, the gun that shot J. R., two themed retail shops, Miss Ellie’s Deli, and much more, and you’ll get the inside scoop on life on the ranch. Tours are available year-round.
Where To Eat
They say that everything is bigger in Texas. We can vouch for the fact that our appetites were bigger there, since there’s so much delicious food! The number of options can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed the list down to a few of our absolute favorites.
The Biscuit Bar
If you like big, buttery, flaky biscuits, you won’t want to miss The Biscuit Bar on the Boardwalk at Granite Park. The line for weekend brunch is really long (don’t worry -- it moves quickly), so either allow plenty of time or get there early.
We tried the Rough Night, which has basically everything you could think of piled on a biscuit -- Southern fried chicken, a burger patty, ham, turkey, pulled pork, bacon, tater tots, Cheddar, and house-made sausage gravy. It’s a monster, but it is incredibly delicious.
You can order a smaller biscuit meal (almost anything is smaller than the Rough Night) or skip right to a breakfast dessert like the Hot Chocolate Biscuit, a flaky, buttery biscuit covered with chocolate gravy and topped with toasted marshmallow fluff. It’s a total calorie bomb -- and totally worth it.
Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar
Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar offers a lot to love, including a boozy brunch. We loved the DIY Bloody Mary bar. Your server brings you a healthy serving of vodka that you then take over to the fully-loaded bar station to prepare your cocktail however you’d like.
The menu offers lots of choices, too. We tried the B.E.L.T. (bacon, egg, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes) and the banana caramel pancakes. They were both outstanding. If you’re hungry for something even heartier, the whiskey-braised short rib hash will hit the spot. Of course, Whiskey Cake also offers its namesake whiskey cake.
Legacy Food Hall
If you don’t know what you want -- or you want it all -- Plano’s Legacy Food Hall offers several food, drink, and entertainment options all in one place.
We loved the authentic Mexican flavors at Tacos Patron and the delicious Mediterranean fare at the Shawarma Bar. Top Chef competitor Tiffany Derry offers tasty Southern fried chicken at Roots Chicken Shak; she uses duck fat to create interesting flavors. Son of a Butcher offers yummy sliders that you can personalize however you’d like. Add a load of waffle fries to round out your meal. And we love trying local draft beers, so we helped ourselves to a flight inside the Unlawful Assembly Brewing Company taproom upstairs.
It’s easy to relax and enjoy browsing the offerings at Legacy Food Hall.
Jorg’s Cafe Vienna
We were surprised to find fantastic Austrian food in Plano. Jorg’s Cafe Vienna is a small, lively, and authentic spot that’s popular with the locals. Enjoy Austrian and German beers, indulge in bratwurst and schnitzel, and check out the photos of the owner’s family, who helped get the restaurant up and running. You’ll feel like part of the family.
Mexican Sugar Cocina
Latin flavors play a major role in Texas’s cuisine scene, and Mexican Sugar Cocina is a great place to savor them. The food fuses Mexican, Colombian, Venezuelan, and other Latin elements in its incredibly satisfying meals.
The surf-and-turf fajitas may sound indulgent -- and they are -- but order them anyway. They are absolutely amazing. Just be sure to split the dish or plan to take some home with you, because you’ll get a lot of food.
The margaritas are off-the-charts good, and Mexican Sugar offers an extensive selection of tequilas you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
Kenny’s Smoke House
You can’t leave Texas without trying the barbecue, and there’s no place more fun and old school than Kenny’s Smoke House, with its smoky meat and casual supper-club vibe. There are a ton of options on the menu, so we ordered the Smoke House Sampler, a little of everything. For a taste of authentic Texas barbecue, Kenny’s is a great spot.
Pro Tip: When it comes to dining in Plano, be sure to make reservations for dinner in advance. Most restaurants are quite busy at dinnertime, and you don’t want to miss out on the delicious places you want to go.
Where To Shop
Plano is a paradise for shoppers. You can park your car and literally spend all day browsing and sampling without having to go anywhere else. Two of the best shopping areas are The Shops at Legacy and Legacy West. With a large variety of stores, each has enough to keep you busy for the better part of a day.
The Shops At Legacy
The Shops at Legacy offers clothing, jewelry, accessories, gifts, home items, furnishings, and sporting goods. Local boutiques sell unique items of distinctive quality. You’ll also find shops selling well-known brands and places to purchase special gifts for friends and family back home. Be sure to pop into Another Time & Place and check out the Turkish handmade items and jewelry -- you’ll feel like you’re at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Legacy West houses many of the world’s best-known premier brands. Whether you’re looking for a Tesla, diamonds, luxury watches, or pretty lingerie, you’ll find it here. Along with the upscale retail places, we loved the Barnes & Noble Kitchen, with its 9,000 square feet of books and plenty of nooks to hang out and enjoy a little quiet time.
If you like to shop, then Plano has a lot to keep you busy on a weekend getaway.
Where To Stay
Renaissance Dallas At Plano Legacy West Hotel
We loved the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Quiet rooms, a convenient location, tons of amenities, and a fun atmosphere put this hotel at the top of our list. It’s located right off the freeway, just a short drive from the Historic Downtown Plano Arts District and the Legacy shopping districts. There’s even a punch ceremony at 6 p.m. each weekday in the Whiskey Moon bar. After a guest bangs the gong, a mixologist creates a unique punch drink that the hotel guests can taste. The East-meets-West ambience continues at the Asian fusion restaurant and the rooftop pool and bar.
Other Hotel Options
Plano has a variety of accommodations for all budgets and tastes. If you like the vibe of the Boardwalk, you would enjoy the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park. Comfy budget-conscious options include the convenient Magnuson Hotel Park Suites and the reliable Comfort Suites and Holiday Inn Express.
We’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to do, see, eat, and drink in Plano. This suburb makes a great destination at just about any time of year.
For more on the Dallas area, see this page.