Plano, Texas, is a great place to raise a family for many reasons, including because there are so many fun activities to do and places to visit that are completely free. Being able to take the kids on a local adventure without breaking the bank can help you save money for bigger and more exciting adventures to other north Texas gems. Plus, it can be a great way to explore your hometown and find new spots you didn’t know existed. Our preschool in Frisco, Texas has put together a list of five free things to do in and around Plano, Texas, that are great for families.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
“Kids At the Park” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by gusmaru
If your family loves hiking and getting outdoors in the amazing Plano weather, then Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is one of the best free ways to do so. This 200-acre park is perfect for nearly any outdoor activity, from a casual stroll to hiking to wildlife watching to picnicking in nature.
Arbor Hills has 2.8 miles of trails for off-road cycling and about 6 miles of paved and unpaved trails for walking and hiking. Every area offers a fantastic view of the park’s lush landscape, much of which is undisturbed to sustain the habitat for the various animals that call the park home. While you’re traversing the trails, keep an eye out for deer, herons, owls, woodpeckers, turtles, and rabbits. And make sure to pay special attention and follow park guidelines if you spot venomous snakes, coyotes, or bobcats to keep everyone in your family — and the animals — safe.
You’ll also find a playground for the kiddos, an observation tower for a great view of the city nearby, and a few picnic shelters you can rent out for large, outdoor events or hang out in for lunch after your hike.
Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve
Another nature-filled, free activity around Plano is a visit to Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve. This is Plano’s largest park at 800 acres, with approximately 8 miles of concrete trails, perfect for biking and walks with strollers, and about 5 miles of natural-surface trails surrounded by stunning natural scenes and picturesque views at different lookouts. In addition to hiking and biking, you can also go horseback riding in a few different areas of the park.
While you hike and explore the park, be sure to look out for various plants and trees that grow here. You might see different kinds of violets, primrose, daisies, and more. As for trees, you can look for walnut trees, oaks, hackberry trees, ash, sycamore, willow, and others. Consider keeping the plant and tree guides from the park’s website to inform your adventure.
This nature preserve features a pond where you can go kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, all of which are great ways to spend a hot Texas day enjoying the local park. If you have your own watercraft, then this adventure is totally free, but if you don’t, you can always rent a few boards or boats from the on-site rental for a few bucks. You can also spend the day fishing channel catfish or just enjoying a picnic by the water.
The Interurban Railway Museum
In downtown Plano right in Haggard Park, you’ll find a truly unique local museum that you’ll love exploring again and again. The Interurban Railway Museum houses multiple interactive exhibits, fascinating artifacts of train and railway history, and guided tours. The museum is always free to visit, but you can also donate to support this great local institution.
When you visit, you can tour an old train car on-site, or you can dive into history like never before with a virtual reality tour of the car. Other exhibits include a model trail, a hands-on electricity room where you and your kids can learn how magnets, electric generators, and more tools operate trains.
The museum also hosts Children’s Storytime every Friday at 10:30 a.m., an event that should be coming back soon! So if you’re looking forward to even more of what the Interurban Railway Museum has to offer, keep an eye on their website for this and other special events and rotating exhibits.
Historic Downtown Plano
Explore the downtown area for free entertainment nearly any day of the week. In Downtown Plano, you can window shop at the boutiques and stores that sell items like craft supplies, home and body goods, fresh produce and artisan products, handmade pottery, furniture, and more. You can also plan to visit when there’s a free community event, like Art in the Park. This event promotes inclusiveness, creativity, and culture in Plano through live music, art installations, and displays, as well as an art market.
Or, you can just enjoy a nice stroll around the downtown area to take in the nice weather, historical architecture, and the community.
Northeast Community Park
Head about 30 minutes northwest of Plano to nearby Frisco to enjoy a day out at Northeast Community Park. While Plano’s parks are equally fantastic, getting out into a new park you haven’t visited yet is a fun, free way to enjoy and even meet some new friends.
At Northeast Community Park, you and the kids can learn new tricks and show off serious skills at the skate park. Whether you rollerblade, rollerskate, skateboard, or bike, this park offers plenty of fun challenges for skaters of all levels. In addition to the skate park, your family can also play soccer and other sports at the athletic fields, stroll on the walking trails, run around the playground, sit by the pond, or enjoy a nice lunch at the picnic tables. You can keep coming back to this park to have fun at the splash pads and courts for tennis, volleyball, and basketball.So there you have it, five free things to do in and around Plano that your kids are sure to love. Did we miss any of your favorite free activities or places to visit in the Plano area? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.