For a weekend full of family fun, Plano is a pleaser. From adventurous activities, to mind-expanding exhibits, to delicious dining, there is something for everyone in this northern suburb of Dallas, just off the tollway.
Calling all Elvis fans. Are you ready for some hip shaking? This weekend fans of the King can get their fix of all things Elvis when the “Texas’ Tribute to Elvis” festival returns for a second year to Southfork Ranch. Licensed by and in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the three-day festival features wall-to-wall performances by tribute artists and other celebrities, parties, and Texas’ only official preliminary heat for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest. Finalists will compete during Elvis Week in Memphis later this year.
If you can’t make it to Plano this weekend, don’t worry. Southfork Ranch is worth visiting any time of the year. It’s known as the “world’s most famous ranch” thanks to its connections to the 80s TV drama “Dallas.” If you were a fan of the show, you can check out their Dallas Legends exhibit. Otherwise, just take a tour of the mansion or a trail ride. The “Day on the Ranch” package includes a two-hour horse education class, a horseback trail ride, a tour of the mansion, a deli lunch, an end of the day snack and gift shop credit.
But my favorite thing to do in Plano is visit the Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve. The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is a canopy tour that takes visitors on rope ladders with crossings up in trees, swings, and a zip line. It’s fun for the whole family, ages ten and up. It’s also a great workout. There’s more outdoorsy fun at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. There are trails, both paved and unpaved, for hiking or cycling. There’s also a playground for children, and an observation tower to explore.
When you’re ready to go indoors, PINSTACK is a state-of-the-art bowling and entertainment destination. Above the bowling alley and gaming center is a suspended ropes course. Bumper cars, rock climbing walls, and laser tag are also available for your family’s enjoyment. And if you want to take a break from all the action, get something from the restaurant or bar, or sit on the patio near the fire and enjoy the big-screen TVs.
For an educational experience, check out living history at the Heritage Farmstead Museum. Upcoming kids’ events include “Fun on the Farm” and “Pioneer Camp.” On your way back to town, stop at Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream for a sweet treat. Of course, for some, a weekend escape isn’t complete without some shopping, which Plano is known for. The Shops at Legacy and The Shops at Willow are great choices for upscale, world-class shopping. If antique shops and boutiques are more your speed, the Downtown Plano Arts District is the spot for you. While you’re there, you can catch live music at McCall Plaza.
Dining options in Plano abound. If you’re in the mood for Italian, my favorite choice is Nicola’s Ristorante Italiano, where you can get a starter of jumbo meatballs, then savor buttery gnocchi and end it all with a chocolate dessert and a cabernet. After you’ve filled your belly, just walk right down the sidewalk, across from the beautiful fountain and lay your head at the chic Marriott Dallas/Plano right in the heart of Legacy Town Center. It’s as posh as you’d expect a Marriott in Plano to be with clean rooms, offering ample space, and a free parking garage out back. So whether it’s attractions, entertainment, performing arts, green spaces, shopping or tasty dining you’re looking for, Plano will fill up your weekend with family fun.