25 Best Things to Do in McAllen, TX

25 Best Things to Do in McAllen, TX

Situated at the southern tip of the Rio Grande Valley, McAllen is a charming city, teeming with sweeping views of luscious nature, which are magnets for nature photographers and tourists.

People from all around the world come to McAllen to experience its breathtaking beauty.

The city experiences a subtropical climate, which is ideal for outdoor activities.

Along with the prodigious high palm trees around the city, McAllen is rich in history and culture.

The town is only 70 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, and Mexican influence can be seen all over the city, be it the food or the town's architecture.

You can eat some delectable Tex-Mex food in this city.

Along with food, the city is famous for being a shopping destination and has several outlets and shops, where you can satisfy your inner shopaholic.

Now let's look at the 25 best things to do in McAllen, Texas:

Catch a Show at McAllen Performing Arts Center

McAllen Performing Arts Center
Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture / CC BY-SA

McAllen Performing Arts Center was opened only in 2016 and has already become an essential part of the community and its culture.

The state-of-the-art venue can seat 1800 people at once.

You can watch comedy shows, theater productions, dance shows, music shows, and more here.

Don’t forget to catch a show at the McAllen Performing Arts Center when you visit the town.

Grab Organic Produce at Earth Born Market

Earth Born is true to its core: sourcing its products from local growers devoted to providing the highest quality ingredients.

The Holbrooks are the proud owners and operators of Earth Born.

This family has a strong commitment to organic and environmentally friendly farming practices.

To ensure its products maintain high-quality, South Tex Organics, Texas' biggest USDA-certified organic citrus producer provides most of the ingredients in its juices with a USDA organic certification.

Its sustainably grown fruits and vegetables are free of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically engineered organisms (GMOs).

Earth Born’s signature products are its citrus and specialized cold-pressed juices.

Take a Splash at McAllen's New Park & Spray Ground

It’s not news that Texas is a hot state.

On a bright day, it's a lot of fun to play in the water.

Spending time at McAllen's New Park & Spray Ground located at Zinnia Park with your children is undoubtedly a blast!

In addition to a spray ground or splash pad, playground, and bathrooms, this park also has a pavilion and picnic tables.

The soft earth of its playgrounds keeps children safe.

The McAllen ISD summer feeding program uses this location as a lunch venue during the summer.

Skateboarding, hiking, and baseball fields are among the other activities you can try at the park.

Solve Mysteries at Trapped RGV Escape Rooms

Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan?

Try your problem-solving skills at Trapped RGV Escape Rooms!

Designed for groups of people seeking an upgraded unplugged adventure, the Trapped RGV Escape Rooms offer a special hands-on experience.

With four themed escape rooms to select from, you'll be whisked away to a variety of exciting historical settings.

Within 60 minutes, you and your team must solve real-life riddles, decipher codes, and look for keys in order to escape your themed chamber!

Visit its official website to book your tickets in advance.

Explore South Texas College

While South Texas College is an educational institution, it also opens its doors to visitors at certain times.

It has a student center, art studios, and a bookstore.

Tours last about an hour and include a stroll across the campus and stops at a variety of academic buildings.

Put on comfortable walking shoes and a jacket or sweater, depending on the temperature.

There is a strict restriction on the number of visitors it can accommodate on each tour, so register as early as possible.

Tours are accessible all year round, with the exception of August and January, when registration is at its highest volume.

Eat Incredible Tamales at Delia’s Tamales

Delia’s Tamales serves the best tamales in town.

The restaurant started with making tamales at home and delivering them door to door, but now Delia’s Tamales has six branches across the Rio GrandeValley.

The restaurants serve 18 different types of tamales, including vegan and vegetarian tamales made with authentic ingredients and spices.

The tamales are inexpensive; they cost under $5 for six tamales.

Visit Delia’s Tamales to eat mouth-watering tamales when you visit McAllen.

Witness the History at McAllen Heritage Center

Situated in the Downtown area of the town, McAllen Heritage Center was opened in 2008.

It is located in the historic building of La Placita, a former federal post office built in 1935.

The center showcases the history of McAllen with photos and memorabilia.

The museum takes you down memory lane decade by decade, showcasing the local items, like cheerleader uniforms, high school jackets, military items.

The entry to the heritage center is free; however, you can donate some bucks for the museum's upkeep.

The McAllen Heritage Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm, and Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.

Visit this place to get to know the colorful history of this town and see the works of local artists.

Hiking and Cycling Trails

Hiking and Cycling Trails McAllen
MechanicSloth / Shutterstock.com

McAllen has several trails for hiking and cycling across the town.

The city encourages its locals and visitors to stay healthy and get exercise.

You can walk, jog, cycle, hike, and even skate at the trails.

Some of the hiking and cycling trails in the city are Las Palmas Park Trail, McAllen Hike & Bike Trails, Retama Village Park Trail, Schupp Park Trail, Westside Park Trail, and Westside Park Trail.

You can enjoy hiking, cycling, or any other activity while appreciating the beauty of nature.

Appreciate the Beauty of Nature at McAllen Nature Center

Previously known as McAllen Botanical Garden, McAllen Nature Center is a nature reserve owned and operated by the city.

It covers an area of 33 acres and houses several species of plants and animals.

There are several paths where you can walk to appreciate the beauty of nature around you.

You can also take guided tours of the property; however, you have to book them in advance.

McAllen Nature Center is a perfect place to surround yourself with nature and appreciate the plant life and wildlife away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Enjoy Picnics Anywhere With Charming Picnics

Charming Picnics is a small local business that sets up a picnic for you anywhere you want in McAllen.

If you are just visiting the city and don’t have all the stuff for a perfect picnic, Charming Business can provide you with everything to experience an ideal picnic with your friends or family.

The small business sets up the perfect picnic at your chosen spot with delicious food and drinks of your choice.

You can contact them on their Facebook or Instagram account to set up your picnic.

Buy Local Produce at McAllen Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday, McAllen hosts Farmer Market from 10 am until 1 pm on 23rd Street.

You can buy locally grown organic produce and other locally sourced products at this charming farmer’s market.

Local produce includes natural honey, fruits, free-range eggs, vegetables, and other things grown in the Rio Grande Valley.

The mission of the McAllen Farmer’s Market is to encourage people to eat healthy by telling them the advantages of eating fresh produce.

You can spend your Saturday morning just strolling down the street and exploring the farmer’s market while interacting with locals of the area.

Stop at the Arts District

Located in the city's heart in Main Street, Arts District houses more than two dozen art galleries, including the renowned Nuevo Santander Gallery.

The historic Archer Park is also located in the arts district.

It is over 100 years old and an essential landmark in the city.

The district is also a home to numerous fantastic cafes and restaurants to satisfy your hunger after exploring the dozens of art galleries.

The lively entertainment district is just a short walk away from here as well.

Visit the Arts District to explore the local art and culture of McAllen.

Participate in McAllen Artwalk

Artwalk is an event that is held every Friday of each month from September to May.

It is a self-guided tour of the numerous art galleries, museums, and art studios in the oldest and most renowned neighborhoods.

The event was first introduced to promote the art scene of McAllen among the locals and visitors.

Now, the Artwalk is a top-rated attraction, and people come to town to attend the event and explore the art scene of McAllen.

Admission to the tour is free, and it starts at 6 pm and ends at 10 pm.

Birdwatching at Quinta Mazatlan

Quinta Mazatlan

Built in the 1930s, Quinta Mazatlan is a Spanish revival-style mansion.

This Adobe Mansion is a birdwatching center, which also educates the visitors about the environment.

It is located in the Rio Grande Valley.

The internationally recognized center for birders is a hotspot for several species of birds.

More than 230 species have been spotted from this stunning mansion.

It is the only known habitat of the Buff-bellied hummingbird.

Along with birds, the estate is also a haven for beautiful migratory butterflies.

You can enjoy guided tours of the splendid botanical gardens of the estate.

This place offers educational programs for children and adults as well.

Visit this magnificent mansion to enjoy the sweeping views and beauty of nature and spot various lovely birds.

Experience Nightlife in Entertainment District

Located in Downtown McAllen, Entertainment District is the perfect experience for the nightlife of McAllen.

Famously known as the 17th Street Entertainment District, the area is filled with clubs, bars, and dining venues where you can eat some of the most excellent food of McAllen.

The Entertainment District caters to everyone’s needs and lifestyle.

You can find places to drink quietly and also places with DJs blasting music, and you just have to choose.

Shop at the La Plaza Mall

La Plaza Mall is a shopping mall in McAllen. It is the largest mall in South Texas and is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike.

The mall has several outlets of different American brands.

Remember the 80s at Deloreans

Deloreans is a retro bar and club that serves delicious drinks while blasting 80s jams.

You can even play video games at your table.

You can dress in retro outfits to make the best of your experience at the Deloreans.

Visit the Veterans War Memorial of Texas

Covering an area of 5 acres, the Veterans War Memorial of Texas honors the Texans who lost their lives while serving their country.

The memorial educates the people about the sacrifices that the soldiers made to keep their country safe.

Learn at the International Museum of Arts & Science

Fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the International Museum of Arts & Science is an art and science museum whose aim is to increase awareness of science and culture through interactive activities and exhibitions.

It has over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space to display various well-thought exhibitions.

Along with incredible exhibits, the museum houses more than 2000 specimens of history and geology.

It also has excellent work of art that includes over 4500 folk art and textiles and 1500 works in the permanent collection that dates back from the 16th century to the present.

This award-winning place is worth a visit when you’re in the city to learn about science and art in the most fun way possible.

It also has a gift shop where you can buy gifts and souvenirs.

The Wonderful Firemen’s Park

An oasis in the humid weather of McAllen, Firemen’s Park is a park with walking tracks, barbeque pavilions, a volleyball court, playgrounds for kids, a pond, and much more.

The Park is famous for its 3-acre pond where visitors can enjoy fishing and boating.

You can borrow rental boats and fishing poles at the lake.

The Park also has paved paths for walking and cycling.

You can rent bikes and enjoy cycling in the beautiful Park.

Firemen’s Park is perfect for enjoying a sunny day in McAllen while enjoying your picnic coupled with sweeping views of the greenery and the lake surrounding you.

Eat Authentic Mexican Food at Costa Messa

McAllen is located near the Gulf of Mexico, and the influence can be seen in the town's food.

You can get authentic Mexican food that tastes delectable anywhere in the city.

Costa Messa is one such place.

It opened in 2002 and now serves the finest Mexican food in Texas.

Don’t forget to try enchiladas and chalupas at the restaurant along with mango chamoy margarita.

Costa Mess is guaranteed to serve you great food with friendly staff and excellent service.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ride the Los Ebanos Ferry

Located just 25 miles away from McAllen, Los Ebanos Ferry is the last remaining hand-operated ferry, and it travels between Rio Grande Valley and Los Ebnos.

Make sure to ride on the ferry to appreciate the beauty of the atmosphere and the sweeping views of the Rio Grande Valley.

Where to Stay

View of McAllen
Anthony Acosta / CC BY-SA

McAllen has plenty of fantastic hotels that will make sure that your stay is as comfortable as possible.

You can choose from budget hotels to luxury hotels; McAllen offers it all.

Some of the best hotels in the town are the Embassy Suites by Hilton, Casa de Palmas, La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham, and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton.

Final Thoughts

McAllen is a charming city with a wide variety of things to see and do.

If you want to see how Mexico has influenced Texas, here is the place to go.

Additionally, the city provides sweeping vistas of the Rio Grande Valley and an abundance of beautiful birds that will capture your heart with their beauty, in addition to delectable cuisine and fascinating shopping centers.

What are you waiting for?

Visit this fascinating city to get a taste of Texan culture.

When you visit McAllen, don't forget to tell us about your favorite item on the list and to try each of these activities.

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