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A Fun Family Weekend in McKinney, TX

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Big things are happening in McKinney, TX, known as the fastest growing city in the US and named the #1 best place to live by Money Magazine.

Just 30 minutes from Dallas, McKinney has managed to maintain its tourist-friendly small-town feel while still offering big-town amenities. All this gives the town an “it” factor that makes it an ideal weekend getaway for families living in or visiting Dallas and Fort Worth.

Here are some activities we enjoyed on a recent weekend.

Get a blast from the past

chestnut square farmers in McKinney, TXWe really enjoyed our visit to Chestnut Square Historic Village, a central village that showcases the county’s oldest existing buildings. My kids range in age from 6 to 14, but there is enough at here to engage everyone. For example, the village has a seasonal farmers market (from April to November), living history days, tours (above), ghost walks, and occasional concerts. It’s a good idea to check the website before you visit to see what’s coming up. On any day you can explore buildings that that demonstrate life in the 1850s, including a one-room schoolhouse, chapel and blacksmith shop.

If your kids can’t get enough local history you can also visit the nearby Collin County Farm Museum. The Heard-Craig Center was built in 1900 and is as much of an attraction as the Kathryn Heard-Craig art collection it houses.

Get out in nature

Heard Musuem trail in McKinney, TXWhen my kids started getting fidgety from too much history, we headed to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary with its 289-acre nature preserve. It has a variety of nature trails and most are stroller accessible. We love that there are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, so that we can escape from the Texas heat late in the day after spending the morning walking the trails, which easy enough even for my little ones. Our favorite trail goes through the Animals of the World exhibit and allows us to have a zoo experience while also hiking in nature. Other exhibits include an educational pioneer village, butterfly garden, and indoor animals and plants. We never miss the animatronics exhibit featuring large-scale, moving dinosaurs visits the museum each fall. We often bring lunch to eat in the outdoor picnic area.

Get a little culture

The McKinney Performing Arts Center sits in an 1875 courthouse. Check the schedule for upcoming performances. Or do what we do and drop by to peak at visual arts in the working artist studio and gallery.

Saving the most unique for last, we loved Adriatica, a residential and retail complex modeled after a Croatian village. During a visit it’s easy to imagine you are stepping into an Old World waterfront town, complete with seafront dining, piazzas with fountains and bell towers, and canal lined streets. While the community is still in the building stages, the kids enjoy roaming the cobblestone streets where Precise detail completes your transportation to another world for a few hours. harrys at the harbor in McKinney, TX

Eat in McKinney

While in Adriatica we had a patio lunch overlooking the lake at Harry’s on the Harbor. It might not be very Old World, but the upscale sports bar is child-friendly and has variety of menu options to please everyone in the family. Be sure to try the Rusty Nuts appetizer, deep-fried croquettes of mashed potatoes, cheese and bacon served with ranch dressing.

For a snack, try Mom and Popcorn, a store downtown with an old-time candy shop feel offering 50 flavors of popcorn.

Stay in McKinney

The new Sheraton in McKinney TXThere are plenty of chain hotels in McKinney. We checked out the new *Sheraton McKinney. The convention center hotel is build to appeal to business travelers more than other hotels in town. But the Sheraton is making an effort to serve families as well with a family packages that allow kids under 12 to eat free with an adult. The package also includes welcome snacks in your room and a lovely 4 pm checkout time. This gives the kids a chance to hit the small outdoor pool one more time before heading home. Another bonus for families is that this convention-centric hotel has appealing lower rates on the weekend.

Jessica Bowers was bitten by the travel bug as a teenager and having four kids hasn’t slowed her down.  A former first-grade teacher, Jessica and her family think of the world as their classroom as they embark on trips both near and far.  Follow their family adventures and find great travel tips at

*Jessica was a guest of the Sheraton. We did not agree to write cover the hotel or write any particular thing about it in exchange for the stay. Our opinions are always our own.

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