We explore McKinney’s Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Center in our March issue, but there’s a lot more to do in this fast-growing city besides explore nature. Shopping, for one: In McKinney’s historic downtown area, a roughly 10-square-block area surrounding the Collin County Courthouse, dozens of locally owned retailers offer jewelry, cosmetics, gifts, clothing, antiques, hats, and artwork.
If you’re planning a day (or more) in McKinney, stop in the Visitors Center (downtown, at 200 West Virginia) to pick up a map and brochures to some of the city’s top attractions, including Heritage Village, a collection of century-old buildings rescued from elsewhere in the region and restored. There’s a gift shop at the Visitors Center, too, where you can buy Texas-themed T-shirts, mugs, postcards, caps, shot glasses, and key rings.
Beth Shumate, who manages the communications department for the McKinney Visitors Bureau, gives props to the upcoming Arts in Bloom event, which will be held April 12 this year. “It’s always the second Saturday in April,” she says. “The streets around the courthouse and the Performing Arts Center are closed off, and the sidewalks are lined with artists. You name a medium, and there’s someone there working with that—painting, drawing, sculpting, woodworking. And there are lots of hands-on activities for kids and adults. For example, you can help paint part of a mural. That event really kicks off our spring season here.
“And in March, one of our most popular events is our annual Krewe of Barkus parade. It’s a costumed pet parade that we have the Sunday before Mardi Gras, so this year it takes place March 2. This year’s theme is ‘Barkus Goes Back in Time.’ It’s really fun, because people bring their family pet out and do the whole theme. One year, we had a ‘Romance’ theme, and one lady was dressed as Cupid and had a stroller full of little Chihuahuas dressed in bride and groom outfits. And we have dog-related vendors such as the Canine Cookie Company here in McKinney.”
Events aside, McKinney’s historic district, which boasts roughly 1,400 buildings dating to 1920, offers guided and self-guided tours, ghost tours, and homes tours throughout the year. See www.visitmckinney.com.