15 Best Things to Do in Collin County, TX

Collin County, TX
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Collin County sits in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex.

With a land area of 886 square miles, it covers a small portion of the city of Dallas and shares 12 of its cities with neighboring counties.

Its third largest city, McKinney, serves as its county seat.

Collin County and its county seat were named in honor of Collin McKinney, one of the five authors of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

It was originally part of Fannin County until it was separated in 1846, with Buckner being the first county seat.

Due to Buckner’s distance from the center of the county, the seat was later moved to McKinney in 1848.

Here are the best things to do in Collin County, Texas:

See Life-Sized Dinosaurs at the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary

Signage of the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Sanctuary.p at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Nature Place, McKinney is the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary.

The 289-acre wildlife sanctuary was founded in 1967 by Bessie Heard with a mission to conserve and preserve natural treasures and to educate people about the importance of nature conservation.

The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is composed of 50 acres of wetlands, 2 acres of native plant garden, a Blackland prairie, a bottomland forest, an upland forest, and a white rock escarpment.

The Animal Encounter Trail is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the sanctuary where visitors can get up close to different animals, including ring-tailed lemurs, white-tailed deer, screech owls, and northern raccoons.

Dinosaurs Live! features a 46-foot-tall T-Rex and 10 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs as well as an outdoor fossil dig.

Enjoy A Wagon Ride at the Historic Heritage Farmstead Museum

Exterior view of the Heritage Farmstead Museum
Susan Bartley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on W 15th Street, Plano is the Heritage Farmstead Museum.

The Victorian-style farmhouse built in 1891 sits on a 365-acre farm owned by Virginia-native businessman Hunter Farrell.

His daughter, Ammie, inherited the estate in 1928, eventually becoming an award-winning livestock breeder until her death in 1972.

In 1986, after an extensive and expensive 7-year restoration, the farmhouse, including the remaining 4.5 acres of land around it, was opened to the public as a living history museum.

The museum contains the personal effects of the Farrell family, including original furnishings, accessories, Victorian-era textiles and clothes, farming tools, and more.

The Heritage Farmstead Museum hosts educational programs that allow families to spend a day on the farm meeting livestock and enjoying wagon rides.

Get Transported to the Set of Dallas at Southfork Ranch

Exterior view of the Southfork Ranch
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Located on Hogge Drive, Parker is Southfork Ranch.

The ranch is one of the primary shooting locations of the hit television series, Dallas.

Originally built by Joe Duncan for his family on a 200-acre property, the 6,000-square-foot mansion, then named the Duncan Acres, was chosen by Lorimar Productions as a filming location.

Swimming pool at Southfork Ranch
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Exterior shots of the soap opera were filmed on the ranch until 1989 when production decided to shoot it entirely in the studio, with an entire mock-up of the inside of the ranch built in California.

With the show’s success, the Duncan family received requests from fans to open the ranch for special events.

Today, Southfork Ranch offers tours that take visitors on a tram ride around the estate, with knowledgeable guides sharing the ranch’s history and some interesting tidbits about the years Dallas was filmed on location.

Gazebo at Southfork Ranch
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Take the Kids Playing at Hope Park Frisco

Located on McKinney Road, Frisco is Hope Park Frisco.

The playground features attractions that are inclusive of all abilities.

It has two separate equipment sets for little and older kids, both having rubberized footing that makes it safe for kids who like to run around.

There’s a sensory area where children can practice their basic senses using adaptive playground equipment.

The’s also a splash pad that becomes a hit during the hotter months.

Hope Park Frisco has several picnic areas where families can share some snacks after a whole day of playing.

Learn About the History of Your Favorite Game at the National Videogame Museum

A kid playing games at National Videogame Museum
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

Located on Dallas Parkway, Frisco is the National Videogame Museum.

Opened in 2016, the museum shines a light on the history of video games and the video game industry through interactive displays that feature playable games and exhibits of artifacts and memorabilia.

The museum traces its roots to 1999, back when it was just a traveling exhibition of classic video games that are being shown in expositions and trade conventions around the world.

It eventually found its permanent home at a 10,400-square-foot facility in the Frisco Discovery Center.

Colorful sculpture at National Videogame Museum
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

The exhibits focus on the different stages in video game history, including the early developments in design and technology, the recession in the 1980s, the introduction of home computers, and the evolution of game consoles, controllers, and more.

Throughout the National Videogame Museum are consoles that visitors can play by themselves or against one another.

These consoles feature a selection of games that rotate monthly.

Virtual Reality corner at National Videogame Museum
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Meet the Farm Animals at Cathy's Critters

Located on Co Road 466, Princeton is Cathy's Critters.

Founded in 2015 by Kevin and Cathy Smith, the zoo works with H.A.I.E.A. (Human-Animal Interaction & Education Advocates) to raise awareness about human-animal interaction.

Cathy’s Critters is home to exotic and farm animals that visitors can meet and feed.

The zoo holds open farm days on weekends wherein visitors are welcome to pet, feed, and play with the farm animals.

There’s the Critter Camp, which runs for 9 weeks throughout the summer where kids can get a full hands-on farming experience in horsemanship, farm chores, and even designing their own farm.

The farm also offers horseback riding lessons, where aspiring riders of all ages can learn how to groom, tack up, and properly ride a horse.

Sample Award-Winning Wines at Eden Hill Winery and Vineyard

Located on Eden Hill Lane, Celina is Eden Hill Winery and Vineyard.

Founded in 2007 by Clark and Linda Hornbaker, the family-owned and operated winery is dedicated to making wines exclusively from Texas vineyards.

The 10-acre estate includes a tasting room and a Tempranillo vineyard that visitors can tour on select days.

The Estate Room can be booked in advance for wine-tasting sessions, where guests can enjoy a pre-selected flight of reds and wines served with artisan bread and Texas olive oil.

Eden Hill Winery and Vineyard also offers guided tours of the estate that take visitors behind the scenes of winemaking.

Explore the Trails of Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve during autumn
Nina Nelson / Shutterstock.com

Located on Los Rios Boulevard, Plano is Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve.

The 800-acre park has almost 3.5 miles of concrete trails and 5 miles of soft surface trails, that are perfect for biking, running, or just walking.

There’s also a dedicated equestrian area for those who want to practice horseback riding and see the park from a different perspective.

Scenic hiking trail at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
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Within the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve are vast open meadows, a wooded riparian corridor, and a native prairie where different species of wildlife live.

Some of the animals that can be spotted in the park’s nature trails are rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, snakes, and turtles.

A 16-acre lake is open to kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing.

Creek at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
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Have Dinner at The Red Feather

Located on Sentinel Wy Ste 400, Melissa is The Red Feather.

The casual dining bar and restaurant is known for its family-friendly environment and wide selection of wines.

The Red Feather offers cozy booths for laidback family dinners as well as patio seating near the outdoor fire pit for a more intimate setup.

A must-try is their Margherita flatbread made with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh basil.

The Muffuletta is also a favorite, made with chopped olives, hard salami, Canadian bacon, and gruyere cheese.

The wine menu offers both local and imported spirits, including sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, merlot from France, cabernet from Napa Valley, and Riesling from Germany.

Don’t forget to order a charcuterie board to pair with your wine.

Catch A Game at the Ford Center

Night view of the Ford Center
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

Located on Cowboys Way, Frisco is the Ford Center.

The 12,000-seater stadium is home to the NFL team Dallas Cowboys and serves as their main practice facility.

Opened in 2014, the Ford Center is part of the 91-acre complex called The Star, which also includes the Cowboys’ headquarters and training facilities.

Field at the Ford Center
Dorti / Shutterstock.com

At the entrance of the stadium is the Championship Plaza, which is a miniature 3/5 replica of an official NFL field.

Though it doesn’t host any of the Cowboys’ home games, the Ford Center serves as the venue for other Cowboys events, such as meet and greets with alumni players and practices of the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue, the team’s official dance crew and drum line.

So, if you’re a big Cowboys fan, this one’s a must-visit.

Enjoy Live Music and Artisanal Wines at BarnHill Vineyard

Located on Co Road 509, Anna is BarnHill Vineyard.

The estate boasts scenic countryside views that serve as background to a rustic barn and a vast plantation.

The vineyard grows over 2,500 Texas varietals used to produce small-batch specialty wines like no other.

The property also takes care of horses and donkeys that visitors can pet while sipping a glass of white.

Catch a live band performance on select days and cozy up around the fire pit on a chilly fall evening.

Food trucks also frequent the vineyard grounds, so visitors can pick up food to enjoy with a glass or two.

Some of the best-sellers include BarnHill Red, Alicante Bouschet, Texas Rose, and Silky Chocolate Red.

Flight tasting is also available in four 2oz pours.

Try the Cattleman’s Café’s Fried Chicken Steak

Front view of the Cattleman’s Café
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on W James St, Blue Ridge is Cattleman’s Café.

The restaurant is best known for its breakfast and dinner menu in homestyle cooking.

One of the crowd-favorites is the Chicken Fried Steak, which is hand-battered, deep-fried chopped chicken steak slathered with house-made country gravy and served with your choice of three sides.

Cattleman’s Café also has an extensive burger lineup, which consists of the classic Cattleman’s Burger, Finger Lickin Bacon Burger, and the Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich.

For big breakfast eaters, the Cattleman's Breakfast is a perfect choice, made with three eggs, a choice of four strips of bacon, two sausage patties or ham, hash browns, biscuits, and the famous house-made gravy.

Chug on Beers on Tap at Rollertown Beerworks

Located on N Oklahoma St #106, Celina is Rollertown Beerworks.

The taproom’s unique name is inspired by how the people of Frisco and Celina put rollers in their buildings and pulled them near the railroad to find success.

Rollertown Beerworks offers an expansive selection of beers on tap in different styles and flavors.

A rotating menu of lagers, Kolsch’s, West Coast and New England style IPAs, Stouts, and fruited Sours is regularly updated to cater to the palette of beer enthusiasts.

The brewery also offers Rollertown Spirits, which are Texas-based, locally-sources spirits that include a variety of bourbons and vodkas.

Beers in cans, handcrafted cocktails made with house seltzer, local and imported wines, and non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

Stroll Around the Historic Downtown McKinney

Signage of the Historic Downtown McKinney
Emily on Time / Shutterstock.com

Located on N Tennessee Street, McKinney is the Historic Downtown McKinney.

It’s one of the most well-preserved and largest historic districts in the state, housing more than 120 shops that include furniture stores, antique shops, art galleries, and clothing boutiques.

It traces its roots all the way back to 1848, when it first became the entertainment capital and commercial hub of McKinney.

Brick building at Historic Downtown McKinney
Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Today, it’s a bustling melting pot of old-fashioned and modern cultures, with well-preserved buildings housing hip restaurants and serving as a backdrop to live music performances.

The Historic Downtown McKinney also hosts festivals throughout the year, such as Arts in Bloom in April, the Texas Music Revolution in June, and the McKinney Oktoberfest in the last weekend of September.

Restaurant at Historic Downtown McKinney
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Munch on BackYard Murphy’s Brisket Sandwich

Located on E, FM 544, Murphy is BackYard Murphy.

Opened in 2020, the restaurant and grill is known for serving barbecue, burgers, tacos, and a bevy of wide selection of handcrafted cocktails.

One of BackYard Murphy’s best-sellers is the Brisket Sandwich, which is made with a hefty serving of slow-cooked, shredded beef brisket slathered with house-made sauce.

Another crowd favorite is the Pulled Pork Sandwich made with classic Texas pulled pork and served with crispy fries.

Other must-tries include the Rib Plate, Brisket Queso, and Peppa Poppers.

Final Thoughts:

Collin County is the ideal destination for travelers looking for a laidback vacation.

What it lacks in edge-of-your-seat adventures, it makes up with its diverse flora and fauna and rich culture.

So, plan your trip now and try the best things to do in Collin County.

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