Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in McKinney, TX

  • Published 2022/12/02

Mckinney is a city in Collin County, Texas, and a Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex suburb.

As the county seat and third-largest city in Collin County, McKinney has a lot of attractions and activities to keep you busy.

This bustling city is filled with exciting opportunities and activities for visitors to enjoy.

The best part is that many of them don’t cost a thing.

With so much free stuff to do in McKinney, you can enjoy your days and nights having lots of fun at no cost.

With that said, here are seven of the best free things to do in McKinney, Texas.

Explore the Historic Downtown McKinney

Welcome sign of the Historic Downtown McKinney

Emily on Time /

Historic Downtown District McKinney is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The district is home to various shops, boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and several historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

One of the most popular attractions in the district is the McKinney Municipal Court, built in 1846.

In addition, Historic Downtown McKinney also offers family-friendly events such as “Home for the Holidays.”

Buildings along the Historic Downtown McKinney

Howard Norton /

This event occurs in the early days of December when the Christmas festivities kick in.

You don’t have to wait for the holiday season to enjoy Historic Downtown McKinney.

The heart of the city has tons to offer all year round, and it’s a fun and great place to spend without having to spend money.

Shops along the Historic Downtown McKinney

Howard Norton /

Stroll through Chestnut Square Historic Village

Chestnut Square Historical Village is a historical place in McKinney, Texas, with a charming collection of historic buildings.

The old houses at the Chestnut Square Historic Village date back to the 19th and 20th centuries.

Most of these houses were built between 1854 to 1930.

To preserve these buildings’ beauty and historical relevance, they have been restored and maintained to show what life was like in rural Texas during that period.

In addition to the historic buildings, Chestnut Square Historical Village also offers visitors demonstrations on blacksmithing, weaving, and other traditional crafts.

If you’re looking for a taste of old-fashioned Texas charm, check out Chestnut Square Historic Village.

Walk Your Dog at Bonnie Wenk Park Dog Park

Bonnie Wenk Park is a bustling park in downtown McKinney, Texas.

It features a ton of attractive amenities for kids and adults alike.

There’s a playground complex where kids can have a blast, picnic areas, and basketball courts.

But what makes Bonnie Wenk Park stand out is its Dog Park.

The Bonnie Wenk Park Dog Park is perfect for those looking to take their furry friend out for a day of fun and exercise.

The park has plenty of open space for your pup to get some playtime, agility, and obstacle courses.

You can also socialize with other dog owners and let your pup mingle with their peers.

If you’re looking for a way to bond with your dog while in McKinney, the Bonnie Wenk Park Dog Park is an excellent and free option.

Unwind at Towne Lake Recreation Area

The waters of Towne Lake Recreation Area

Prianxi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Towne Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful park located in McKinney, Texas.

The park is perfect for a day of relaxation, with plenty of opportunities for picnics and an afternoon playground session for the kids.

The park also boasts a large lake where you can go fishing or paddle boating.

Several hiking trails also make it the perfect place to spend a day with the family.

With so many things to do, Towne Lake Recreation Area is the ideal place to visit for a free and fun activity in McKinney.

Look around at Fair and Square Imports

Fair and Square Imports is a local home goods store in McKinney, Texas.

This brick-and-mortar store is well-known for its unique items that range from handmade jewelry, handbags, and home decor to international imports.

Fair and Square Imports are one of the premier stores where you can buy unique souvenirs to take home.

However, you can admire the creative pieces since you’re not planning to spend much money during your Mckinney trip.

At Fair and Square Imports, you can tour the entire store and even learn about its mission of supporting fair trade.

The staff is happy to show you around whether you’re looking to buy something or browse.

So whether you’re looking for souvenirs to buy or want to appreciate art, Browsing through Fair and Square Imports is the perfect free activity for you in McKinney.

Admire Antiques at the Antique Company Mall

One thing that tourists love about McKinney is the number of unique and interesting stores and shops that lend the city its quaint charm.

One of these stores is Antique Company Mall, a large vintage store that sells antiques and collectibles from the past.

The mall has many sections where you can find anything from furniture, jewelry, and artwork to sports memorabilia and vintage toys.

It’s a great place to explore and soak up the atmosphere of days gone by while browsing various unique items.

Plus, admission to the mall is free, so you can stay as long as you want, even if you’re browsing.

Learn McKinney History at Collin County History Museum

Exterior of the Collin County History Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

McKinney is rich in culture, history, and local heritage.

If you’re curious to get a deeper understanding of the city, the Collin County History Museum is the perfect place to visit.

Since a nonprofit organization runs the Museum, admission is entirely free.

However, you can support the Museum through donations and purchases at their small gift shop.

At the Museum, you can explore the history of McKinney and Collin County through interactive exhibits showcasing local artifacts, photographs, and documents.

You can also participate in educational programs at the Museum, such as lectures, workshops, and tours.

A Time Capsule Garden shows all the artifacts and trinkets, including old coins and letters, unearthed from a time capsule buried in 1931.

At the Collin County History Museum, you’ll appreciate various artifacts and better understand McKinney’s history and culture.

Check out Collin County History Museum when you’re in town.

See the Crape Myrtle Varieties at the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney

The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney is a popular park and premier tourist spot in McKinney.

The trails boast over 150 varieties of crape myrtles spread across the seven-acre grounds.

Imagine walking around in a sea of pink, white, and purple flowers that change with the season.

The park also features picnic tables, benches, an outdoor amphitheater, and a small playground.

What’s also great about the trails is that they’re free, so you can walk through the beautiful crape myrtles without spending any money.

At the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney, you can exercise while admiring the vast collection of crape myrtles and having a perfect view of downtown McKinney.

Spend the Day at Katherine B. Winniford Park

Spanning 16 acres, Katherine B. Winniford Park is a large and beautiful outdoor recreation area in McKinney, Texas.

It has a park’s typical features, such as a playground, a hiking and biking trail, and plenty of open space to run around and play.

It also features a two-and-a-half-acre pond you can fish and a picnic shelter.

However, you’ll need to come early because it’s a popular spot for families and couples.

Likewise, the park is a great place to take a walk or jog and is also perfect for picnics.

Bring your friends and family to its multi-purpose court and an open turf area for athletic activities and games with kids.

The park also hosts several events throughout the year, so check out the calendar for upcoming events.

Moreover, Katherine B. Winniford Park is free to the public; enjoy their amenities without spending a dime!

Explore Adriatica Village

Aerial view of Adriatica Village

Mistermckinney, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adriatica Village is a charming shopping center located in McKinney, Texas.

The Village features attractive builders, as well as a variety of stores and restaurants.

Adriatica Village is also home to a beautiful fountain which makes for a great place to take pictures.

A building at Adriatica Village

Jed Rollins, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can shop or stroll through the different stores and outdoor spots.

Another great activity you can do while at Adriatica Village is window shopping and enjoying the lovely atmosphere.

Adriatica Village is an excellent place to explore; the best part is that it’s free!

Enjoy the Atmosphere at Third Monday Trade Days

Third Monday Trade Days is a must-go for anyone who loves the flea market atmosphere.

Held every month, the trade days feature a variety of booths that offer everything from clothes to antiques.

What’s excellent about Third Monday Trade Days is that you can find unique items you won’t find anywhere else.

The trade days are also great places to meet new people and make friends.

So, if you’re looking for a fun day out, check out Third Monday Trade Days.

Get Active at the Erwin Park Dorba Trail

The Erwin Park Dorba Trail is a great place to stay active during your McKinney, Texas, vacation.

This 8.1-mile trail is excellent for mountain biking, walking, running, jogging, and many other outdoor activities.

It’s a great place to take the kids or go out and enjoy nature at its finest.

The trail is a mix of twists and turns with some steep hills so that it will keep you on your toes.

The Erwin Park Dorba Trail also goes through the most scenic areas in the city and will captivate you with its beauty.

So, if you’re looking for a great way to stay active during your trip while exploring the best of McKinney, check out the Erwin Park Dorba Trail.

Visit the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary

Welcome sign of the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary

Sanctuary.p at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to take the kids for a day of learning and fun.

The Museum offers exhibits on various science-related topics, including dinosaurs, Native American culture, and animal habitats.

Kids can also enjoy interactive activities such as the dinosaur dig site and the nature trails.

The Heard Museum is also home to a wildlife sanctuary where visitors can view animals such as bears, bison, and deer.

Daytime view of the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary

Sanctuary.p at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum has a small admission fee, but you can enjoy the wildlife sanctuary and other amenities for free.

So, if you’re looking for a fun and educational day out, check out the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary.

The kids will have a blast exploring this fantastic, knowledge-inducing Museum.

Check Out Myers Park & Event Center

Myers Park & Event Center is a great place to attend an event or take the family for a fun day.

The park also serves as an event venue, which means a lot of events like birthdays, weddings, and other special events are held here.

There are different amenities at Myers Park & Event Center, such as walking trails, a pavilion, and a vast open space covered in lush grass.

You can stroll around and admire mother nature while in this park.

The pristine nature of this park is enough to keep you in awe for an entire day.

If you’re bold enough, you can crash some of the events to participate in the festivities.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

There are many nearby places to visit in McKinney.

If you’re looking for other things beyond the city borders, check out this one city in particular.

Go on a Trip to Plano, Texas

A building at Plano

Jiujiuer /

Nearby Plano, Texas is another hidden gem in Collin County, Texas, and is home to various tourist attractions worth checking out.

Some of the most popular places to visit include the Heritage Farmstead Museum, the Shops at Willow Bend, and the Interurban Railway Museum.

The Heritage Farmstead Museum is a great place to learn about Texas history.

The Museum features exhibits on agriculture, transportation, and home life.

The Shops at Willow Bend is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists.

Interurban Railway Museum at Plano

Valerie Johnson /

The mall features over 200 stores, including brands like Apple, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.

The Interurban Railway Museum is a must-see for railroad enthusiasts.

The Museum features exhibits on the history of electric railways in North America.

If you want to cross the McKinney borders, add Plano, Texas, to your list of destinations.

Buildings at Plano

RaksyBH /

Visit Allen Station Park

Allen Station Park in nearby Allen, Texas, is a regional park that should be great for families to have fun.

This park is eight minutes from McKinney.

The massive park comprises 44 acres of baseball, softball, and soccer sports fields.

Likewise, it features a playground and a giant pond for the kids to play.

They also have a pavilion and picnic tables where you can enjoy a meal and enjoy nature’s beauty.

Hiking through this large park is also a common activity filled with trails that take you along the creek and through various native Texas trees.

The most notable attraction in Allen Station Park is the 1874 stone dam and water station in the park’s northern part.

It also has an interpretive trail through Allen’s historic Houston and Texas Railway Water Station.

Allen Station Park is worth a trip thanks to several amenities and attractions.

Final Thoughts

Whether looking for a day out with the family or an educational trip back in time, McKinney has something for everyone.

From exploring nature trails to attending events at parks and museums, this city has free activities that will keep you entertained for hours.

The best part is that most of these attractions are free, so you can explore all of the best of McKinney while still sticking to a budget.

Plan your trip today and discover the free things to do in McKinney, Texas!

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