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May 6, 2016 / Millerann Moya / Comments

Our family weekend trip to Plano, Texas

Colleen Pence Photo Colleen Pence is the editor and owner of, which focuses on family events and activities, food, and travel, with an emphasis on all of the free fun families can have in the Alamo City.

Traveling with kids requires a bit of balance to be sure everyone in the family stays happy. Planning attention-capturing things for the kids to do and see, while also satisfying parents’ desire for good food and drinks, a little sightseeing, and the occasional bit of down time can be tough, but not impossible, to accomplish.

My family and I resolved all those challenges and more with a recent weekend trip to Plano, Texas. There is a wide variety of family-friendly, fun things to do in Plano, Texas (more than we could fit into one weekend, as we learned!).


Day One: Saturday

The Hotel

Tucked into a quiet corner of a business and residential area, the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park provides quick access to The Shops at Legacy (a major shopping, dining, and residential spot) and two of Dallas’ major tollways. And, it’s gorgeous.




A beautiful, spacious lobby offers plenty of places to plug in a laptop or tablet for work or play, and it features a large central bar. There is also an open patio (weather permitting) with a nearby pool and that’s where we spent our early evenings, enjoying happy hour wine prices (and Shirley Temple mocktails for the kids!) while planning our next Plano activity. The pool looked inviting but it’s not heated so we didn’t take a chance on jumping in during our early spring stay.




When traveling with our kids, we always look for a two key things: places to dine with delicious options to please everyone (not just the children!) and parks or open areas where the kids can let their energy loose between activities. The Shops at Legacy, host to a variety of upscale and casual restaurants, unique shops, spas and salons, green spaces, fountains, and entertainment (and just a three-minute drive from our hotel), provides both.




Before dinner we window shopped and showed the kids the life-sized Texas longhorn statues (representing an 1800’s cattle drive along the Shawnee Trail). We let them they run, skip, and cartwheel all over the place to scrub off a little energy before dinner across the street at Henry’s Tavern.




Henry’s offers something for everyone. A varied kids’ menu (which went beyond the usual by including fish and chips and Henry’s crispy orange chicken) pleased the children and my husband and I enjoyed a hearty steak and bleu cheese salad and the crispy orange chicken. We all loved dinner but the kids were also quite impressed by the fancy river rocks in the bathroom sinks.


Day Two: Sunday


On Sunday morning we went to the Main Street Bakery and Bistro at The Shops at Legacy for brunch. Our experience there made us consider moving to Plano, permanently–it’s that good!




We ordered a pile of perfectly flakey, chocolate croissants, a rich and creamy cheese Danish, warm beignets, crispy bacon, eggs benedict, fresh fruit, and savory breakfast potatoes. We probably overdid it, but we couldn’t help ourselves. Each thing we ordered was as good as, or better than, the thing we ordered before.


The Heritage Farmstead Museum

After brunch we took a 15-minute drive to Heritage Farmstead Museum. It is perfect for mobile toddlers, preschoolers, and kids and teens of any age who love animals, the outdoors, and/or history. We took a self-guided tour (although a docent-guided tour is offered once a day for an additional fee) to learn about the animals, the farm vehicles, what life was like in Plano in the early 20th Century, and dairy farming.




Our 11-year-old enjoyed the animals, especially a friendly donkey and our 8-year-old son had fun pretending to be the teacher in the 1895, one-room North Texas school house.



Downtown Plano Arts District

A visit to Plano isn’t complete without a trip through its historic downtown. We dropped in to wander along the authentic brick streets, do a little shopping, and grab a drink. Tip for Sunday visitors: you may want to change your plans and visit the Downtown Plano Arts District on a Saturday. Many of the cute shops the Interurban Railway Museum (which looks really cool!) are closed on Sundays. After watching a few trains speed by, we found Kelly’s Eastside, a great place for a cool drink. The menu was tempting, but we were too full from our brunch to order a meal. My husband and I treated ourselves to a craft beer and the kids sipped sodas while we enjoyed the weather on the patio and people watched for a while.



Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream

Later that day, our bellies summoned us again so we made the five-minute drive to Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream (not affiliated with Henry’s Tavern). Henry’s motto is, “Ice cream makes you pretty!” And it’s true: after our visit there, we were downright gorgeous. Incredibly creamy, homemade ice cream in creative flavors, including apricot, award-winning cinnamon, and the more-than-curiously-named corn (it tastes just like popcorn!) are dipped into homemade waffle cones. Henry’s “scoop the size of Texas” is almost more than one person can eat. Almost. Also on the menu? $1 hot dogs.



Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

After “prettifying” ourselves at Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream, we needed to walk off those extra calories. We headed over to Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, a 200-acre park located near the western border of Plano. Although there’s plentiful parking, the incredible spring weather that day apparently spoke to many of Plano’s residents too. But after just a few minutes, we grabbed a spot. It’s no secret: few things in life are better than visiting a park with your family on a beautiful day. We hiked around, seeing all sorts of families and dogs out together enjoying nature. If we lived in Plano we’d visit Arbor Hill at least once a week.




For our final night in Plano, we drove around The Shops at Legacy looking for dinner ideas. (Yes, again! It’s so conveniently located with so many offerings, you could never get bored). We chose a small Italian restaurant called Coal Vines which, at first glance, doesn’t appear to be kid-friendly. The decor is dark and rich with red velvet curtains hanging behind black leather booths. But our kids loved it. To them it was fancy and special. And, best of all? It serves pizza!




While Coal Vines doesn’t exactly cater to kids (they don’t have a kids’ menu or crayons, or coloring pages), they were very welcoming to ours (and the other families with babies and toddlers we saw dining nearby). Our kids split a cheese pizza and gave it a big thumbs up. My husband and I split a crisp and creamy Caesar salad. He ordered the meatballs and I had the Penne alla Vodka. It was a simple, but delicious and comforting meal.



Day Three: Monday


I wasn’t kidding when I described Main Street Bakery and Bistro as good enough to make our family move to Plano. We made a quick stop there to pick up more of its to-die-for pastries and robust coffee for the road and then we headed back home to San Antonio.

We discovered Plano to be a bigger city than we imagined (although you can get to just about anywhere in 15 minutes or less). There’s so much to do, we didn’t even get to it all. But that’s OK, we’ve got plenty of reasons to return!



Places we planned to visit in Plano (but ran out of time)

Love & War in Texas

Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

East Hampton Sandwich Co.

Colleen Pence was hosted by Visit Plano and created this itinerary in partnership with the Visit Plano team and its partners.