Plano, Texas, is a large, upscale suburban area where the quality of life is good, schools are ranked high, and it is heralded as one of the best places to live in Texas. This city assures visitors a wealth of fun activities and attractions that will satisfy the whole family. It boasts a diverse food scene, lots of shopping, and family fun around every corner. From bowling, escape rooms, trampoline parks, museums, and fun with crayons, you’re sure to find many things to do that your family will love. Being only minutes north of Dallas and under a 30-minute drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Plano serves as a top destination for families to visit for enduring fun year round.
Here are the best things to do during your time in the city with the family. Visit Plano hosted our tour.
1. Crayola Experience Is For Everyone
Where can the whole family enjoy hands-on fun together in Plano? At the Crayola Experience — that’s where! I was a little nervous, thinking my almost 12-year-old grandson wouldn’t enjoy this experience because of his age, but to my surprise, he wasn’t the only one who had a great time. I, too, enjoyed getting to use my creative side. We participated in every hands-on activity we could, and I got to act like a kid alongside him. We colored squishy things, made a mask, got our picture taken in a cartoon style, colored it, and watched a short, live presentation on how crayons are made. After all that, I paid a little extra to have a wax impression made out of my grandson’s hand. That was a sight to see, and everyone in line was marveling over the process of how his hand turned into hard wax by dipping it in wax then ice-cold water (3 times). Now, that’s a souvenir!
This is a place to get your kid’s creative juices flowing with over 22 hands-on activities. We even got to take the things we made home with us. Food options are available as well as a retail store once you exit the experiences. Oh, yes, parents, it’s a whole store full of gifts and treasures. The store is located inside The Shops at Willow Bend shopping mall. Follow the covered parking area signs, and it’s right inside the doors.
Pro Tip: Allow at least 3 hours to enjoy all the fun. But that will depend on your group. We were there for three solid hours, and it was just us two.
2. Enjoy A Day At Southfork Ranch
The picturesque setting that the Ewings’ called home on the original TV series Dallas from 1978 to 1991 is still gorgeous after all these years. I remember being glued to the television, watching the show every week with my family. The series is no longer, but Southfork Ranch remains alive and well. It offers home tours of the main house, trail rides, and horseback riding lessons. There’s also a museum that depicts the TV show with recreated scenes, photos of all the actors, and many memorabilia. You’ll enter through the visiting center before heading to the museum and the trail rides, but let me warn you, the gift shop isn’t your ordinary visitor center gift shop — it’s almost as big as a department store — offering clothing, memorabilia, gifts, monogrammed merchandise, etc. If you’re a huge Dallas fan, there is a souvenir waiting for you!
My grandson and I enjoyed a great trail ride with a few other people. But what made our ride even better was our trail boss had to tend to several newbies and let my grandson and I lead the way. We definitely have been on a horse a time or two.
Pro Tip: After the trail ride, you are free to roam the premises and check out the longhorn cattle.
3. Take A Nature Walk At Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, with 3 miles of paved hiking trails and 3 miles of unpaved hiking trails, poses a beautiful walk along the creek as you explore the open prairie and forest, all the while watching for wildlife. If you can, bring your bike to ride the 2.8-mile off-road bike trail. Plus, enjoy a family picnic while you’re there under the covered pavilion and let the kids play on the playground. Pets are welcome on a leash, and restrooms are available, too.
4. Hike Oak Point Park And Nature Preserve
Plano’s largest park, Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve has mostly been undisturbed by man and is the perfect spot for visitors to enjoy nature, wildlife watching, and native plants. The park provides 3.5-miles of concrete trails and 5 miles of soft trails along Rowlett Creek. I suggest an early morning hike to catch the sunrise. You are welcome to bring your own kayak, canoe, or paddleboard to enjoy out on the pond.
Pro Tip: The park is in the vicinity of Go Ape Zipline (see below). That right there is a full day of outdoor fun!
5. Go Ape Zipline And Adventure Park
Ziplining is all the craze lately, and Plano offers a good one. Adults and kids 10 and older will enjoy climbing the treetops, zipping across to the next line, then repeat. I did this back when it first opened, and though it was exhausting climbing all those stairs to get to the next zip line, I enjoyed it very much. Go Ape Adventures is located inside Oak Point Park, so when you’re all done there, zip on over to another adventure!
6. Heritage Farmstead Museum
Heritage Farmstead Museum is a living 4.5-acre piece of history depicting life in the Victorian Era from 1890 to 1920 on the Blackland Prairie. Bring a picnic lunch, stay for a tour, or a special event. Activities such as ground tours, house tours, wagon rides, and feeding the chickens are available. This is a great place to take the younger kiddos.
7. Shop Till You Drop In Plano
There’s no shortage of retail space in Plano. It’s a paradise for shoppers, and the serious shopper will come from miles away to spend the whole day, if not the weekend, to find those perfect shoes and handbag! You could spend a full weekend shopping and still not see it all. 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. And, don’t forget about The Shops at Willow Bend, where Crayola Experience is located. If that’s not all, there’s Preston Park Village, Preston Towne Crossing, and Preston Village Shopping Center.
8. Experience Legacy Food Hall
Meet me at the table! Legacy Food Hall is a 3-story food court with 20 restaurants opened for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What a superb place to grab a meal if you have picky eaters in your bunch. One place, 20 eateries or so to choose from — wow! From brisket to tacos to sushi and more, you’ll no doubt find your favorite meal. Then everyone meets at a picnic-style table in the courtyard for family togetherness. After your meal, grab a treat… in the same area! Look for live music on the weekends.
9. Enjoy Waterfront Dining At The Boardwalk Granite Park
For a very casual “restaurant row” with indoor seating with air conditioning, indoor-outdoor seating with fans, and outdoor seating with a nice waterfront view, head to The Boardwalk Granite Park. And of course, there’s plenty of kid-friendly food and games to play for the whole family, like cornhole. The Boardwalk is a row of eateries to suit everyone’s palate. We enjoyed two sit-down dinners there. I told my grandson he could have the first pick where he wanted to eat. He chose Fork&Fire, where he had a “grownup” meal of shrimp and scallops. The next night, we ate at The Union Bear. He ordered a huge helping of homemade mac & cheese, and I devoured what was left the next day. The food at both places was so good, we would definitely go back there to eat.
10. Stay At Hilton Granite Park
If you come to Plano for more than a day, you are steps away from it all when you stay at the Hilton Plano Granite Park. This is especially true if you’re coming to the city for some shopping and to enjoy a meal or two overlooking the water. The Boardwalk is steps away from the hotel, and the Legacy West shopping center is minutes away. This is where we stayed for the weekend and enjoyed swimming in the pool and lingering in the beautiful hotel lobby during downtime. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at the Carso restaurant inside the hotel, but we headed to The Boardwalk when the evening rolled around. And, best of all, after a long day of fun in Plano, you don’t have to venture far for dinner — you’ve got lots of choices within steps.
Pro Tip: Plano, Texas, is business savvy and a great place to raise a family. Whether you come to live or vacation, there’s something for everyone.