Located right on the border between the US and Mexico, McAllen is a city in Texas with loads of culture. It is part of the Rio Grande Valley, or RGV, a region known for its mix of American and Mexican cultures. In fact, the RGV is the region in the US with the highest percentage of Spanish speakers – and many of them strictly speak Spanish and no English!
While McAllen is rich in history, culture and heritage, this city isn’t really a tourist hotspot and many people think of it as a mere border town with a low living cost. But don’t worry, this city has its own charm and there are plenty of fun things to do in McAllen too.
Here are 25+ fun things to do in McAllen split into bitesize sections: including nightlife fun, museums & historic nature sites, unique fun, games & kids activities, and more!
Fun Things To Do In McAllen: Five Unique Fun Ideas
1. Visit A Flower Market Festival
Located on N Main Street is RGV’s one and only flower market. At first glance, Southern Roots Flower Market looks like your typical florist. They have a store where customers can drop in and buy flowers, or you can order large amounts of flowers for events.
But what sets them apart is their Market Days, which is an event where they hold something akin to a flea market or festival selling flowers and other interesting bits. These festivals always create a buzz with numerous tenants, live music, and people picnicking around.
Follow them on social media to get updates on upcoming events!
2. Blow Off Some Steam By Throwing Axes
Yes! There’s a place in McAllen where you can throw axes for fun! Let out your anger and improve your aim at Kickin Axes, an indoor axe throwing arena. To make it even more exciting, they have a feature where you can compete with your friend.
For first-timers, an employee will give you a lesson before your session. If you want to rent a room, you can rent per hour but you need to make a reservation first.
3. Check Out Selfies & More Studio
These days, taking pictures has become an activity on its own instead of something you only do on vacation. To facilitate this, Selfies & More Studio have created a place where people can have fun with friends and take pictures for hours.
From flower walls, plastic ball pools, and swings, to neon lights and upside-down rooms, they have tons of theme rooms you can try out. The studio can be rented for private events, including – but not limited to – birthday parties.
The admission fee is $22 per hour for adults, $17 for children, and $7 for pets. If you like selfies, this is easily one of the most fun things to do in McAllen.
4. Geek Over Juices And Jams
Shop for your plant-based needs at the local farmers’ market, Earth Born Market. They sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to juice and acai.
The best part about the store is that you can sample many of their products in the store. Have fun tasting and choosing from a large selection of farm products.
Truthfully the products are relatively pricey, but they’re really of high quality and you’ll be supporting local small farmers so it’s a big win.
5. Experience Mexican Food & Culture in Nana’s Taqueria
You can’t say you went to RGV if you didn’t go to Nana’s Taqueria. It’s a place to experience Mexican culture, live music, and food in Weslaco, just 20 miles from McAllen. Nana’s Taqueria is really a fantastic place where people can eat, listen to mariachi, and dance together.
For all the vibrant vitality that this place has to offer, we really think you should check it out while you’re in McAllen. The half-hour drive is absolutely worth it.
Fun Things To Do In McAllen: Five Nightlife Ideas
1. (Girls Just Wanna) Have Fun In An 80’s Bar
Starting off strong, here’s a place in McAllen where you can have fun all night long. 80’s Brewery is an 80s themed bar & brewery that is a favorite among locals.
The dance floor totally gives off oldies vibes with neon lights, tiles and a retro arcade. Try having an arcade game with your friends to settle who’s paying for the drinks.
Family-friendly hours are up until 8 pm. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for their special events like 80’s live rock music night.
For another fun-themed bar option, you can try out Bravá Show Bar on 17th St.
2. Go To A Pink Cocktail Bar
LOVE BUZZ is a unique, concept cocktail bar. The whole place is PINK, and they even serve specialty pink foods such as pink tacos!
Other than food and drinks, they also have several photo rooms to take cute photos with your crew. The place is family-friendly until 10 pm.
All in all, it’s such a cute place for a hangout with friends. You can also book the place for parties. Check out their social media to see their latest events.
3. Dance All Night At A Rooftop Pub
A lively bar with fresh air and a real buzz?
Say no more! Come up to PH Roof and throw all your inhibitions away with good music and great drinks.
4. Play Arcade & VR Games
There aren’t many things in life that are more fun than spending hours at the arcade. Then add a few drinks to the mix and it’s the best night of your life!
Visit McAllen’s Dave & Buster’s with your friends or date and play games til midnight. They serve snacks like burgers, salads, and churros.
5. Dine In An Intimate Bistro Lounge
Tabū Bistro Lounge is a Mediterranean restaurant with a great nightlife atmosphere.
Locals love this place for dinner and for enjoying a few sips of the restaurant’s signature cocktails while listening to live music. The bar is open until well past midnight.
Fun Things To Do In McAllen: Five Museums & Nature Sites
1. Visit The Local Museum of Art & Science
Something that’s always fun to do when you’re in a new place is check out the local museum, and for McAllen, the International Museum of Art & Science is a standout.
This art museum showcases the city’s Mexican roots by displaying Mexican and Latin American folk art, while other collections are rotated year round so there’s always something new to see.
The science side of the museum is mainly focused on getting children interested in science, with wonders like a 3D globe and telescope exhibits.
2. Walk Along A Suspension Bridge
If you drive just a little bit outside of McAllen, about 15 miles from the airport, you’ll find a large area covered with trees called the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
As the name suggests, it’s a wildlife conservatory site, more specifically home to at least 397 species of migratory birds.
The main attraction of the site, however, is a suspension bridge connecting two observation towers. From the bridge, you will get the most stunning view nature has to offer here.
3. Learn About McAllen’s Heritage
If there’s any place in the US that has an interesting heritage background, it would be the Rio Grande Valley.
At the McAllen Heritage Center, you will walk through the city’s intricate history going back to the time when RGV was part of Mexico until it became part of the States.
There are also artifacts, memorabilia from locals, and a movie that highlighted the first 100 years of the city. To top it off, entrance is free! So there’s really no reason for you not to check out this museum.
4. Go Bird-Watching
Interested in birds or nature in general? Come visit McAllen Nature Center!
In this 33-acre site, visitors can enjoy different kinds of plants and animals, especially birds. There have been over 200 species of birds that have been spotted here and you can also find butterflies flying around. Entrance to the site is also free.
5. Explore The Gardens Of A Historical Spanish Mansion
If bird-watching alone doesn’t sound fun enough for you, how about bird-watching in the gardens of a stunning Spanish mansion? Nestled in the middle of beautiful trees right beside McAllen Airport is the Quinta Mazatlan. In this place, nature meets man-made in the most beautiful way.
While the mansion itself is remarkable to look at, the reason Quinta Mazatlan became a historical site is not the house itself but rather the trees surrounding it. This place houses over 250 species of birds, making the mansion a world-class birdwatching hotspot.
Lose yourself in nature as you walk through trails with overgrown cacti on the sidelines. The combination of the old-style mansion and wildlife makes this place feel special.
Fun Things To Do In McAllen: Seven Games & Kids Activities
1. Cool Off In A Waterpark
Is the Texan weather getting to you? There’s a waterpark pool in Pharr, just about 5 miles from McAllen Airport, where you can cool off. Aqua Planet Waterpark has several swimming pools, including a kiddie pool with slides.
2. Find Your Way Out Of An Escape Room
Do you love mystery thrillers and problem solving? Then find clues and crack codes with your friends in Trapped RGV Escape Rooms.
If you doubt escape rooms, we guarantee that this one is actually fun because the sessions last as long as 1 hour! This shows that the puzzles are not that easy to solve and you will need a whole lot of creative thinking and teamwork to escape.
A pro tip from us is to come on Tuesday when – at the time of writing – there’s a special price of $15 per person (normal price is $25 so this is a pretty great deal!).
3. Try Water Sports At The Local Park
If you’re the active type, you must go down to Firemen’s Park Town Lake and try out a variety of water sports! From pedal boat to kayak, it’s a great activity to do with your partner or family.
Other than being the site of water sports, the lake also has a great view with beautiful greenery and ducks swimming around. It’s a lovely place to watch the sunset.
4. Jump Until Your Worries Bounce Away
Ever been to a trampoline park? Some people might think they’re not worth the money, but we would beg to differ. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have just jumping around.
One of McAllen’s most popular trampoline parks is Sky Park (picture below). They also have a foam pit, sky rope obstacles, batting cage, basketball, and dodgeball. The place is especially suited for kids but adults can have fun too – if you have the right spirit!
Another option for a bounce park in McAllen is Xtreme Jump McAllen. There, they have a special toddler time on Tuesdays for only $8 per kid. For kids, this is easily one of the most fun things to do in McAllen.
5. Play A Game Of Laser Tag
Inside La Plaza Mall, you will find National Laser Tag And Games, a place where you can play laser tag matches with a host of different objectives.
They also have other activities you can try out including virtual reality, nerf battles, and arcade games.
6. Splash About In A Splash Pad
If your kids are getting fussy, take them to the splash pad at Zinnia Park or Palm View Park. After all, there are only a few things kids love more than playing with water.
What’s even better is that because they are located in public parks, these waterparks are open to everyone for free.
7. Hike Or Bike
Get some exercise out in the open whilst enjoying the view by taking a hike at McAllen 2nd Street Hike & Bike Trail.
The trail is well-maintained and the view is very nice with green parks on both sides of the trail. There are also rental bikes.
You can find other hiking trails in McAllen here.
Fun Things To Do In McAllen: Three Other Ideas
1. Go Down To Mercado District
Explore the restaurants in Mercado District, a locals’ favorite for eating and hanging out.
The eating places are nestled in one spot with open seating like a food hall. The place has a really nice atmosphere so it’s great for eating out with friends – especially if you all have different tastes in food!
The selection of food is pretty diverse, and all the restaurants are locally owned so that’s another plus. Other than the food hall, Mercado District is also a shopping center.
2. Check Out What’s Happening At McAllen Convention Center
The McAllen Convention Center is a multi-purpose arena with a 3,500 seating capacity. There are all sorts of interesting and random events held here every day, from concerts to wedding fairs, so make sure to check out their event calendar!
3. Be On The Look Out For Yearly McAllen Events!
For more fun things to do in McAllen, make sure to look for events that are happening at the time of your visit.
The city often holds big events such as McAllen’s biggest Latino festival MXLAN, the McAllen Spring Fling, and the RGV Hot Air Balloon Festival. There are always many fun events in this vibrant city.