PLANO — Not far from the urban allure of the big cities of Dallas and Fort Worth lies the charming suburb of Plano.
Mark Thompson, director of the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the city, incorporated in 1873, experienced a population boom in the 1980s and now several corporations like HP Enterprise Services, J.C. Penney, Frito Lay and Cinemark are based there.
Plano's apparent appeal comes as no surprise because the city has something for everyone:
Of course there are cowboys, but with a modern-day twist. Visitors to Plano can find plenty of cowboy flair and “Texas crude” at Southfork Ranch, home of the Ewing clan of “Dallas” TV fame. Less than 8 miles from Plano, in the farming community of Parker, the sprawling ranch is one of the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau's star attractions, Thompson said. People flock to Southfork for daily guided tours of the locale made famous by the TV family of oil barons and cattle ranchers. Thompson said the ranch's gift shop does a bustling business, evidence that the “Dallas” show's popularity remains strong.
Food and drink
Plano is home to numerous franchise restaurants. However, visitors looking for fare that can't be found everywhere won't be disappointed.
The Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar, 3601 Dallas Parkway, is known for its use of fresh vegetables that are grown at the restaurant or on local farms. Thompson said the restaurant has filled an organic niche.
“It prides itself on its farm-to-table mix,” Thompson said. Appetizers include Fried Green Tomatoes and sides like Roasted Corn Succotash and Spicy Okra are on the menu. Featured entrees include a Salmon Burger featuring mesquite-grilled salmon, Open Pit Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Pita Portabella Stack. Desserts include the restaurant's namesake Whiskey Cake, a toffee torte with Bookers Bourbon Anglaise, spiced pecans and topped with fresh whipped cream.
Then there's Love & War in Texas, an establishment known for both its food and entertainment at 601 E Plano Parkway. Thompson said the restaurant's appetizers like Texas Wagonwheels and Barbara Bush's Fried Green Beans, each served with a special ranch dressing, are particular favorites. The menu pays fun homage to the Lone Star State by dividing fare into categories based on areas of Texas. On the entertainment end, Thompson said Love & War attracts quite a crowd for its live music.
Meanwhile, wine lovers might want to try a flight of wine or after-dinner coffee at Cru Food & Wine in the Shops at Legacy. Like many establishments at the Shops at Legacy, Cru has an outside dining area perfect for unwinding on a summer evening after a day of shopping.
Plano is home to Southfork Hotel, the sister property of the Southfork Ranch. The hotel offers a cozy atmosphere with friendly employees, a nice pool, plush surroundings and Texas-shaped chocolates. Guests looking for cuisine don't have to go too far to find it at the hotel's Remington's Restaurant and Cattlemen's Club Bar & Lounge. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to Southfork Ranch. Meanwhile, Plano also has the Marriot Dallas/Plano at Legacy Town Center for visitors who want to be close to the trendy Shops at Legacy.
Mall lovers can visit the popular Collin Creek Mall in Plano. Another shopping destination is Shops at Legacy, a new urban development within the Legacy Park community that features trendy shops (Lilli London, Willa Boutique) and restaurants (RA Sushi, Seasons 52, Fireside Pie). And downtown Plano is not without its shopping treats. The downtown offers a bevy of one-of-a-kind antique shops and boutiques like Pink Cadillac and La Foofaraw.
For western wear, try Cavender's Boot City at 3317 N Central. The store is large and offers a wide variety of cowboy staples like cowboy boots and hats. Denim jeans and shirts — western, glam or both — are also plentiful. Jewelry and other accessories can add punch to any outfit.
Plano has several museums, none more fascinating than Interurban Railway Museum where enthusiastic guides take visitors to a time when Plano was a vital part of the Texas Electric Railway between Denison to Waco from 1908 to 1948. The Interurban, a forerunner of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System, is one of the original electric cars on the tracks through Plano. The museum is housed in an old Interurban station. Right beside it is one of the original cars that carried mail and passengers, something that youths and history buffs in particularly will enjoy.
Travel and accommodations provided for by the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau.