Festivals and food overflow in music-friendly McKinney

With one of the oldest, most lovingly preserved, and largest historic districts in Texas, McKinney radiates nostalgic charm and boasts more than 120 unique shops, including art galleries, furniture stores, antiques, gifts, home decor shops, and apparel and accessory boutiques.

In addition, nearly two dozen eateries in and around historic downtown are high on flavor, with many sourcing their ingredients from local farmers. And many of those restaurants may just be serving up live music, too; after all, McKinney is a Texas Music Friendly Community.

With all this cred, there’s no shortage of hot spots to put on your list for a weekend getaway.

Where to stay

Originally built in 1912, The Neathery Estate is a newly restored Georgian Revival that boasts beautiful estate grounds and four unique, lovely suites along with a covered porch, saltwater pool, library, and conservatory. And it’s all just a few blocks from the quaint downtown square.

Right in the heart of downtown, the Grand Hotel combines history and elegance. With its 44 boutique hotel rooms and a ballroom with six crystal chandeliers, pressed tin ceilings, and an original floor-to-ceiling brick wall, it is clearly a go-to for special events.

What to eat

With an eclectic mix of dining destinations, there is something for every possible craving downtown, starting with the first meal of the day.

Layered is an all-day brunch and lunch place, using only fresh local ingredients that are cooked to order — plus, they boast impressive latte art. A fun fact about this spot: On Thursday through Saturday nights, this daytime eatery converts to a speakeasy called Room One Eleven, complete with red velvet curtains and a secret entrance via a faux Coke machine.

Spoons Cafe is in a converted 1920s building that was originally the Texas Power and Light company. Fun, hip, and casual, they serve breakfast all day, along with other comfort faves like meatloaf, Frito chili pie, and King Ranch casserole.

And don’t miss their sister spot, The Garage, a cool craft cocktail bar and event venue — and, literally, a former garage! — located behind Spoons.

Farm-to-table takes its highest form at Harvest, which sources nearly everything from within a 150-mile radius, from proteins to produce. Their nose-to-tail menu changes four times a year, based on seasonality. Even the bar features almost entirely Texas-made spirits, and they also brew their own beer in the traditional farmhouse style using Texas grain, malt, and honey.

Patina Green Home and Market also offers breakfast and lunch with a menu that changes daily. In their market they sell local and organic produce, meat, dairy, and more along with antiques, home furnishings, unique gifts, and handmade items.

A quintessential Texas experience with a “beef centric,” down-to-earth menu is what you’ll find at Local Yocal; it’s also a restaurant-meets-market that specializes in wagyu steaks, world-class barbecue, and Southern Americana favorites. And how apropos that it’s all housed in a handsomely renovated former grocery warehouse.

For all-out fun, The Yard is nestled under a towering canopy of old oaks and slings classic backyard grub — think smothered waffle fries, pulled pork sliders, taco turkey queso, and so much more — with indoor and outdoor seating (and bars both indoor and out, too) plus a big yard for games, live music, and more.

What to drink

Located at the historic Cotton Mill, Tupps Brewery is a fixture on the McKinney scene. Make yourself at home with tours and tastings, live music, and events like drag queen bingo, goat yoga, trivia, and movie nights. There’s even a bottle tree farm where you can bring your empty bottles.

In fact, Tupps is so popular that it’s outgrowing its current space. It’s relocating to the historic McKinney Grain site, a move that will include remodeling a 120-year-old grain mill into a new, state-of-the-art, 25,000-square-foot production brewery and a retail craft community shopping area that will be housed in grain bins. The total project will encompass over 40,000 square feet of buildings on a four-acre spread.

Tastings and glasses of authentic Texas wine are available all day, every day in downtown at at Landon WineryLone Star Wine Cellars, 4Ranch, and Baron’s Creek, and there’s live music most weekend nights.

Drinks turn into desserts at Cocktail Creamery, where boozy ice cream is the flavor of the day. Actually, there are close to 100 indulgent flavors on tap, including White Chocolate Macamania, Mint Chocolate Cookie Monster, and Salted Butter Caramel Crazy.

What to do

In addition to shopping the downtown scene and catching live music everywhere you look, there’s plenty more to do in McKinney, including getting some face time with Mother Nature.

About six miles of trails wind through the various habitats that make up the 289-acre Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary.

There’s always a variety of activities happening onsite, too, including guided hikes, nature tours, bird walks, canoe trails, and ziplining, plus Halloween and Christmas-themed nature events (that often include animatronic dinosaurs!).

Tour through Chestnut Square Heritage Village to see a collection of six historic homes, a wedding chapel, a general store, and a replica of a one-room schoolhouse just south of the downtown square. Some of the buildings feature period artifacts showing how people lived from 1854-1920, and the village is also home to many events including ghost walks and a weekly farmers market.

You’ll feel worlds away from McKinney in Adriatica Village, a charming little neighborhood that takes its inspiration from Croatia. Walk along the water, grab some food for a picnic, and check out live music at The Sanctuary or the Zin Zen wine bar.

McKinney’s Arts In Bloom festival kicks off the downtown spring season the second weekend in April each year. Featuring more than 120 juried artists and the Local Artist Village, the three-day festival also includes performance artists, musicians, Texas wineries, food vendors, and a kids’ crafts area.

Red, White, and Boom! happens each July 4, featuring a hometown parade, a Yankee Doodle carnival, and a concert with fireworks.

The Millhouse Summer ArtFest is August 27-28, with juried art by local artisans set against the grandeur of century-old architecture at the Cotton Mill.

And get your lederhosen ready for Oktoberfest in September with authentic German food, domestic and imported beer, live music, games, and more.

Home for the Holidays takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, kicking off of a magical month of holiday festivities.

The city’s newest entertainment district, Hub 121, is located in Craig Ranch in southwest McKinney and features dining and entertainment with a terrific outdoor amphitheater area for live music.

One of Hub 121’s restaurants, ChopShop McKinney Sports Garage, has a two-level patio overlooking the amphitheater, while Elwood BFD, lets you hear the music from its patio. Wine a Little McKinney is a beautiful wine room attached to the sports bar, and more places are opening soon.

Plan your North Texas escape in McKinney and find itineraries for any kind of trip — from family vacay to girlfriend getaway — here.

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