McAllen, the City of Palms, is in the southern plains of Texas, USA. It is the largest city in Hidalgo County and the second largest city in the Rio Grande Valley after Brownsville. It is near the Rio Grande River on the border with Mexico.
McAllen, with a population of 130,000 at night and 180,000 during the day, is a fast-growing, dynamic city with an energetic vibe. It is the unofficial capital of the southernmost region of Texas, commonly referred to as the Rio Grande Valley, and acts as the social, financial, entertainment and shopping hub for the region which boasts 1.3 million residents. McAllen's vitality drives the city's tourism, business, education, shopping, and health advances, often placing it ahead of Texas and the nation. McAllen is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and is rated as one of the best U.S. places to do business and one of the top 8 safest U.S. cities.
The city has grown rapidly over the past century. In 1910 the population was about 150. The city now has a population exceeding 130,000, but serves the 4 million people within a 60-mile radius. Over 85% of the city's population is Hispanic or Latino; almost everyone in bilingual to some degree.
McAllen is the most popular U.S. shopping destination for Mexican residents. The city hosts millions of Mexican shoppers per year, and therefore accommodates a much larger number of retail stores and restaurants than other cities of its size. Many of the Mexican tourists and shoppers in the area come from Monterrey, a highly technologically advanced city and the third most populous in Mexico, with a population of about 4 million. A brief glance at a mall parking lot, however, will reveal shoppers from almost all 32 states of Mexico.
McAllen is renowned for its warm winter weather and low cost of living. In the winter months, large numbers of retirees live in the McAllen area. Affectionately called Winter Texans, they come predominantly from the midwestern United States and Canada and stay in RV parks, apartments, second homes and extended-stay hotels. Winter is "season" for McAllern, and the time with most of the social activities, many planned especially for Winter Texans.
McAllen is also the hub of the Rio Grande Valley for birding. 2.3 million birders visit the McAllen region every year. There are literally dozens of birding spots in the McAllen area, including the World Birding Centers, a complex of 9 sites dedicated to wildlife watching. 528 bird species and over 300 butterfly species have been recorded in the area, making it the most productive birding location in North America.
The first real development in the area that would later become McAllen occurred in the 1850s. That development was led by John McAllen. In 1904, he established a town site then known as West McAllen. In 1907, a separate group of developers established a town known as East McAllen. Eventually, the two towns merged and the City of McAllen was incorporated in 1911.
McAllen is surrounded by several medium size towns and cities. These cities are so interconnected that they sometimes appear to be one larger city. For census purposes the federal government includes all these areas under the heading McAllen–Edinburg–Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA has been in the top 10 for several positive categories many times--that dynamic growth and change making every visit unique. Always, some new stores open along with new places to eat.
- American Airlines. (Nonstop service to Dallas)
- United Airlines. (Nonstop service to Houston)
- Allegiant Air (Nonstop service to Las Vegas, NV; and Orlando, FL)
Valley International Airport located in Harlingen, TX is about a 45-minute drive east of McAllen. This airport is serviced by Continental, Southwest, and Sun Country. Offers regular direct flights to Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Offers seasonal direct flights to Minneapolis, MN.
There is no passenger rail service to McAllen. However, you can take Amtrak to San Antonio and connect via bus to McAllen.
The bus station is located at 1500 West Highway 83 in downtown McAllen. It is serviced by Greyhound which connects McAllen to cities throughout the United States. Additionally, there are several Mexican bus companies which connect McAllen to cities throughout Mexico. These carriers also create many times and opportunities to go by bus to Houston or other cities in the USA as well. In many cases, these companies cover the southeastern USA with their schedules.
- US 83 runs east and west connecting McAllen to Brownsville and Laredo.
- US 281 runs north to I-37, which connects McAllen to Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
- McAllen - Hidalgo - Reynosa International Bridge is located in nearby Hidalgo, TX connects McAllen to Reynosa, Mexico.
- MX 40 goes frim Mazatlan, Durrango, Torreon, Saltillo, Monterrey to Reynosa and McAllen
- MX 97 connect to the 97 from the 180 leaving Victoria Mexico (or arriving from Tampico: enter the McAllen area from Reynosa,
The best way to get around McAllen is by car. There are several rental car services located in Mcallen: Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, and others. Many of these can be found at the airport.
Several taxi companies serve McAllen. Customers should call ahead to arrange a pick up.
Metro Mcallen is the bus system that serves McAllen. These buses run from 6AM to 11PM Monday through Saturday, and 8AM to 8PM on Sunday. The bus system covers only limited routes but also interfaces with RioTransit buses, which connect to other towns in the Rio Grande Valley.
McAllen has several hike and bike trails that run north and south.
- Basilica Of Our Lady Of San Juan Del Valle-National Shrine (In nearby San Juan, TX).
- Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park (In nearby Mission, TX).
- Estero Llano Grande State Park (In nearby Weslaco, TX).
- Klement's Grove, 4508 N Taylor Rd. A citrus grove and country store offering a wide range of citrus fruits for sale, or pick your own in their grove. You can also buy their homemade citrus juices, dressings, sauces, and more.
- Los Ebanos Ferry. A hand-operated ferry that connects Los Ebanos, TX with Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Mexico in nearby Los Ebanos, TX. The only ferry that connects USA and Mexico across the Rio Grande River.
- McAllen Convention Center, 700 Convention Center Blvd. A large convention facility that hosts a wide variety of events throughout the year at on the corner of S Ware and W Expressway 83. The convention center is surrounded by a variety of shops and restaurants.
- Quinta Mazatlan, 600 Sunset Ave. A beautiful country estate located close to the airport at Visitors can tour the home and the 15 acres of land that surround it. The property is full of plantlife native to South Texas. This is also a great location for bird watchers.
- Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge (In nearby Alamo, TX). This is a 2,088 acre wildlife refuge along the banks of the Rio Grande River. It is home to plant and animal life native to South Texas. Another great location for bird watchers.
- The Zone, 2600 W Expressway 83. An amusement park with attractions including miniture golf, go carts, bumper boats, batting cages, and video games.
- Old Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum, 900 S 2nd St, Hidalgo. Tour the pumphouse built in the early 20th that irrigated 70,000 acres of land in South Texas with water from the Rio Grande River. This pumphouse made the area's citrus groves possible. Located in nearby Hidalgo, TX. Great location for birdwatchers.
- Museum of South Texas History, 200 N Closner Blvd, Edinburg (In nearby Edinburg, TX), ☎ +1 956-383-6911.
- Airport Park, 2201 S. 26th St.
- Archer Park, 101 N. Broadway.
- Balboa Park, 2611 Covina.
- Cascade Park, 1000 Bales Rd.
- Daffodil Park, 4200 Daffodil.
- Doc Neuhaus Park, 700 Dallas.
- Escandon Park, 2021 S. 19th St.
- Fireman's Park, 201 N. 1st St.
- Frontage Park, 1901 Oakland.
- Garza Park, 2601 Lark.
- Hackberry Park, 417 Hackberry.
- Idela Park, 3500 Idela.
- Las Palmas Park, 2500 Quince.
- La Vista Park, 100 La Vista.
- Lions Park, 1201 N. 12th St.
- Los Encinos Community Park, 2900 Sarah.
- Municipal Park, 1921 N Bicentennial Blvd.
- Palm City Park, 2601 S 22nd St.
- Palm View Park, 3411 Jordan.
- Retama Village Park, 2500 Laurel.
- Robin Park, 1100 Robin.
- Schupp Park, 1300 Zinnia.
- Springfest Park, 3501 S 23rd St.
- Suarez Park, 409 S 27th St.
- Western Park, 110 N. 16th St.
- Westside Park, 1000 S Ware Rd.
- Art Walk. The McAllen Art Walk is a self-guided tour of art galleries along Main Street between Business 83 to the south and Pecan Avenue to the north. These events take place on the first Friday of every month from September to May from 6PM-10PM. In addition to viewing the galleries visitors will find vendors selling food and other items, and live street performances. The Art Walk is free and open to the public.
- Birdwatching. McAllen and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley are great places to enjoy birdwatching. 528 species of birds have been spotted in the area, making it the most productive and popular birding destination in the country. Visit South Texas Nature Marketing and the World Birding Center websites to find great birdwatching locations, and visit the McAllen Chamber of Commerce at 1200 Ash Ave for free brochures, maps and other birding information.
- BorderFest. This is an annual celebration which takes place during the month of March at the Dodge Arena in nearby Hidalgo, TX. There are live performances, car shows, amusement rides, food and drinks. Each year there is a different theme for BorderFest. In 2008 the theme was 'Celebrate China.'
- PalmFest. This is am annual festival that celebrates the unique culture and history of Deep South Texas. Takes place every October at the McAllen Convention Center.
- Texas Citrus Festival. Takes place every January in nearby Mission, TX. Celebrates the area's citrus crops. Contact the Mission Chamber of Commerce for more details +1 800 580-2700.
- Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. Has concerts throughout the year. Concerts usually held at the McAllen Convention Center.
- McAllen International Travel Show. The first week in January, with booths from around the world, live entertainment
- Music After Hours. Free outdoor music concert series featuring local talent. Held in Archer Park every first Friday September through May, and in Bill Schupp Park second Fridays during summers.
- Candlelight Posada. Annual Christmas celebration held the first weekend in December. Live music, food booths, special areas for children and for teens, Christmas parade, official City Christmas Tree lighting, traditional "posada"- a live reinactment of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn.
Universities and Colleges
- The largest campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is in nearby Edinburg. The Edinburg campus was formerly the main campus of the University of Texas–Pan American, which merged with the nearby University of Texas at Brownsville in 2015 to form UTRGV.
- South Texas College (STC) has five campuses in the Rio Grande Valley. Three of them are located in McAllen.
- Pecan Campus - 3201 W Pecan Blvd.
- Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Campus - 1101 E. Vermont Ave.
- Technology Campus - 3700 W Military Hwy.
- Mid-Valley Campus - Weslaco, TX
- Starr County Campus - Rio Grande City, TX
McAllen has three public libraries, including the main library and two branch libraries.
- Main Library - 4001 N 23rd St.
- Lark Branch Library - 2601 Lark Ave.
- Palm View Branch Library - 3401 Jordan Ave.
Convention Center District at the corner of Ware Rd and Expressway 83. Large number of shops and restaurants surround the convention center.
Downtown has lots of shopping available especially along Main Street.
10th Street is a designated retail street with many shops both near downtown and the North 10th area from Dove to Trenton and the surrounding area. 10th Street near downtown has many eclectic and locally owned stores, and as you go north, these mix with more national retailers: Lowe's Kohl's, Target, HEB, Home Depot, and so forth.
- La Plaza Mall, 2200 S 10th St. This is a large, very popular mall near the airport. Department stores include Dillard's, Macy's, JCPenny, Joe Brand, and Sears.
- Rio Grande Premium Outlets. The outlet mall located in nearby Mercedes, TX.
With over 600 dining establishments in the City, excellent dining choices is one of McAllen's strengths. Tex-Mex is of course very popular, as is Chinese, barbecue, seafood and sushi, among others. McAllen offers dozens of popular chains such as Macaroni Grill, PF Chang's, and Johnny Carino's, and also excellent local favorites, many with chefs who have studied in the world's finest schools. Many restaurants serve meals featuring organic, locally grown products, and you will find a variety of live music featured in many establishments.
- Dai Tung, 400 E Nolana Ave. Nicely priced Chinese Menu, with lunch specials mid-week.
- El Padrino, 116 S Broadway St.
- El Pollo Loco (The Crazy Chicken), 601 Nolana Ave. Flame grilled Chicken with all the sides.
- Le Lai Eastern Restaurant, 2901 N 10th St. Cheap lunches.
- Los Cazadores, 901 N Main St. Breakfast, Tex-Mex, and BBQ. Great very traditional Lawyer food establishment- near the scenic Art Walk area.
- Lotus Inn Chinese Restaurant, 1120 N 10th St. As close to real Chinese food as you will find short of PF Chang's also available in McAllen.
- Saigon, 1200 N 10th St. Vietnamese large soup bowls, great sandwiches, and very strong traditional Vietnamese Coffee.
- Taco Palenque, 3020 N 10th St. Great Tex-Mex food for a great price. Check out the salsa bar. Second location at 1000 S. 10th St.
- Taco Rico, 3716 W Pecan Ave.
- Taqueria El Zarape, 3420 N 10th St. Two more locations at 817 S 10th St, and 4401 N 23rd St. even has locations in neighboring cities Traditional 6 small taco format- beer available
- El Pato. This is a local favorite, serving made-to-order burritos
- Blue Onion, 925 Dove Ave. Salads, soups, pizzas and more.
- City Cafe, 2901 N 10th St. Sandwiches, salads, soups and more.
- Costa Messa, 1621 N 11th St. Mexican and Tex-Mex food.
- Don Pepe's, 306 N McColl Rd. Mexican food.
- Fresco, 7017 N 10th St. Italian food.
- Hop Tung, 4200 N 10th St. Chinese and Vietnamese food.
- Korea Garden, 3424 N 10th St. Korean food.
- Kumori Sushi and Teppanyaki, 1424 E Ridge Rd. Two additional locations at 400 E Nolana Ave, and 4500 N 10th St. Japanese food.
- La Mexicana, 4300 Col Rowe Blvd. Mexican food.
- Mama's Pizzeria, 401 N 10th St. Chicago style pizza.
- Palenque Grill, 606 E Expressway 83. Mexican food.
- Peppers, 4620 N 10th St. Changed menu to high end dinners only- not Burgers, steaks, pizzas any more nice Menu though.
- Republic of the Rio Grande, 1411 S. 10th St. Diverse menu includes chicken fried steak, enchiladas suisas, and pizzas.
- Sahadi's, 709 N 10th St. Greek and Mediterranean food. Wine tastings every Friday night at 7:30PM. Live music.
- Bajio, North 10th. Steaks mid-priced to higher-priced Hibatchi near Bajio on North 10th (near the Lowes) mid to higher priced- try it and post more here.
High churn rate in some locations and concepts- check for new ones for your trip.
- PF Changs, Frontage Rd. Chinese food gets improvement for McAllen! nice calligraphy and artwork with modified Chinese food, not quite the real flavor, but good, near the new convention center.
- Republic of the Rio Grande, 1411 S 10th St, ☎ +1 956-994-8385. On 10th just north of Hwy 83 (right side) Steaks, and both indoor and outdoor seating.
- El Divino Dining & Cocktails, 5001 N 10th St, ☎ +1 956-627-3990. In the Entertainment District, American cuisine.
McAllen has a lively entertainment district in downtown along 17th Street. Multiple bars and nightclubs have recently opened in the area.
- Bar 201, 201 S 17th St.
- The Boiler Room, 118 S 17th St.
- The Dive, 216 S 17th St.
- Flesh, 200 S 17th St. Not many people until after 10PM and later. People look better at closing time.
- Rythem and Brews, 214 S 17th St.
- Shine Martini Lounge, 100 S 17th St.
- Speakeasy Piano Bar, 316 S 17th St.
- Vicio, 204 S 17th St.
Other Downtown Spots
- Club M, 1704 Dallas Ave.
- House Wine & Bistro, 1117 W Business 83, ☎ +1 956-994-8331. A unique concept, one side is a wine bar, the other side is a fine furniture shop.
- Roosevelt's at Seven, 821 N Main St, ☎ +1 956-928-1994. Specializes in a wide variety of beers from around the world.
Other Night Spots
- Havana Club Bar & Grill, 500 E Nolana Ave, ☎ +1 956-687-3100. Cuban restaurant with bar and large dance floor.
- Hillbilly's, 6000 N 10th St.
- Metropolis, 2021 Orchid Ave.
- Thirsty Monkey, 119 W Nolana Ave. New Orleans-style bar and grill.
- Trade Bar, 2010 W Nolana Ave. Gay bar with drag queen shows on Thursday nights.
McAllen has 40 hotels and over 3,300 rooms, ranging from full-service to budget.
- Embassy Suites Hotel McAllen, 1800 S 2nd St.
Get on US 83 and go east 30 miles to Harlingen, TX.
Get on US 83 and go east 56 miles to Brownsville, TX.
Get on US 83 and go east 43 miles until you get to TX 100. Then take TX 100 east about 27 miles to South Padre Island.
Get on US 281 and go north about 94 miles. Turn right on TX 141 and go east 15 miles to Kingsville, TX, and visit the historic King Ranch.
Get on US 83 and go west 145 miles to Laredo, TX.
|Routes through McAllen|
|Laredo ← Mission ←||W E||→ Harlingen → Brownsville|
|San Antonio ← Alice ←||N E||→ Brownsville → END|