Find Out More about Plano, Texas

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Situated in the bustling metroplex of Dallas-Fort Worth, Plano is a city that perfectly blends its rich history with modern charm. It started as a small farming town but has blossomed into a lively urban center. With top-rated schools, thriving businesses, and a variety of attractions, there’s always something exciting to discover. Let’s find out what makes this city so special!

Historical Background

Founding and Early Development

Plano’s story began in the early 1840s when European pioneers, including William Foreman, settled in the area. Foreman built essential facilities like a sawmill, gristmill, and store, attracting more settlers. In 1848, Dr. Henry Dye, Plano’s first doctor, arrived, and by 1850, Foreman’s home served as the city’s unofficial post office. Dr. Dye proposed the name “Fillmore” for the town, but it was rejected.

Eventually, they chose “Plano,” meaning “plain” in Spanish, referring to the area’s flat terrain. The name was accepted, and Foreman became the first postmaster.

Livestock and Agriculture

While raising livestock was the leading business in the county, many settlers turned to farming the fertile, black land. The community built churches and schools, and local enterprises started to flourish. However, the Civil War in the 1860s caused growth to halt. After the war, residents worked to restore their farms and attract new settlers.

Post-Civil War Growth

An old railway in Plano, Texas
An old railway in Plano, Texas

In 1872, the completion of the Houston and Texas Central Railway connected Plano to larger markets, making it the trading center of Southwest Collin County. On June 2, 1873, Plano was officially incorporated, and C.J.E. Kellner was elected as its first mayor. This period marked the beginning of significant growth and development for the city.

Growth into a Significant Business Hub

In the 20th century, Plano transformed from a quiet town to a bustling business center. Its strategic location and business-friendly environment attracted major corporations, including Toyota North America, Liberty Mutual, and JPMorgan Chase. This influx of businesses spurred population growth, improved infrastructure, and a thriving economy, solidifying Plano’s status as a critical economic hub in the region. By the 1980s, the population had surged, and Plano had evolved into a major urban center with a diverse community and robust economic landscape.

Business and Economy

Plano has evolved into a significant business hub, especially since the latter part of the 20th century. With its strategic location and business-friendly environment, Plano has attracted numerous corporations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Prominent names like Toyota North America, Liberty Mutual, and JPMorgan Chase have established their headquarters here, contributing to the city’s robust economic growth.

This influx of businesses has spurred rapid population growth and significant infrastructure development. Today, Plano offers a thriving economy with ample job opportunities, making it a prime location for businesses and residents alike. The city’s economy is diverse, encompassing industries such as technology, finance, healthcare, and more, further solidifying its status as an economic powerhouse in the region.

In the 20th century, Plano transformed from a quiet town to a bustling business center. Its prime location and welcoming environment for businesses have attracted many major corporations. Here’s a list of some key companies headquartered in Plano:

  • Toyota North America
  • Liberty Mutual
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Frito-Lay
  • Pizza Hut
  • Cinemark Theatres
  • Dr Pepper Snapple Group

This business boom has driven rapid population growth and significant development. With a thriving job market and modern infrastructure, Plano offers a diverse economy that includes industries like technology, finance, healthcare, and retail, making it an attractive place for both companies and residents.

Education

The facade of Plano West Senior High School

Plano is renowned for its excellent educational institutions, making it a prime location for families. The Plano Independent School District (PISD) is highly regarded for its academic programs and innovation.

Here are some key schools and institutions in Plano:

Public High Schools:

  • Plano West Senior High School
  • Plano East Senior High School
  • Plano Senior High School

In 2016, Newsweek recognized Plano West as the #1 comprehensive high school in the State of Texas in its list of best public high schools.

Private Schools:

  • Prestonwood Christian Academy
  • Prince of Peace Christian School
  • Trinity Christian Academy

Higher Education:

  • Collin College
  • SMU-in-Plano (Southern Methodist University’s Plano campus)
  • University of Texas at Dallas (nearby in Richardson)

Collin College, in particular, is the largest campus by number. The Plano campus hosts the college system’s fine arts and athletics programs.

Places to Visit in Plano

Crayola Experience

A little girl and an adult woman posing between giant Crayola crayons
A little girl and an adult woman posing between giant Crayola crayons

The Crayola Experience at The Shops at Willow Bend is a vibrant 60,000-square-foot wonderland perfect for both kids and adults. With 22 hands-on attractions, you can wrap and name your own Crayola crayon, star in a coloring page, create melted wax spin-art, and watch crayons being made in a live factory show. The 5,000-square-foot retail store offers the world’s largest selection of Crayola products and souvenirs. General admission is $20.99 at the door and $18.99 online, while kids under three get in free. An annual pass costs $30.99.

Texas Pool

An overhead photo of the Texas Pool
An overhead photo of the Texas Pool

Summers are a blast at the historic Texas Pool, which holds 168,000 gallons of saltwater in the shape of Texas. This National Landmark features a diving board, two water slides, and a shallow wading area perfect for kids and adults. Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it’s a great spot for a family BBQ with grills available and a snack bar on-site. The Texas Pool is a must-visit for a fun and refreshing day out.

Heritage Farmstead Museum

Two sheep eating green grass

The Heritage Farmstead Museum gives you a peek into early Texas farm life. It’s set on a 4.5-acre site and features the beautifully preserved Farrell-Wilson House from 1891. The museum has 13 historic buildings and over 10,000 artifacts showcasing North Texas’s agricultural heritage from 1891 to 1939.

You can explore exhibits, join interactive programs, and enjoy special events like Little Farmer Fridays for preschoolers, summer camps for kids, and the Junior Historians program for older students. Public tours are available too, making it an educational and fun outing for all ages. Admission is $3 for non-members, with public tour prices at $7 for adults and $5 for kids.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Passionflower that can be found at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a 200-acre park perfect for a nature escape. It has miles of paved and unpaved trails, ideal for hiking, biking, and jogging. The park also features a playground, picnic spots, and scenic overlooks with stunning views.

You can explore different ecosystems here, including upland forests, prairies, and riparian zones. It’s a favorite spot for bird watching, wildlife photography, and enjoying some peace and quiet. Whether you’re with family or on your own, it’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.

The Boardwalk at Granite Park

The Boardwalk at Granite Park is a lively dining and entertainment hotspot, perfect for a day out or a night on the town. Located at the intersection of Dallas North Tollway and Sam Rayburn Tollway, this waterfront area features a collection of unique restaurants and bars, all offering picturesque views and outdoor seating.

Some popular dining options include:

  • Suburban Yacht Club: Inspired by Southern California vibes, this restaurant offers a variety of tropical cocktails and boardwalk fare, including tacos and fresh ceviche.
  • Union Bear Brewing Co.: A locally owned brewery and restaurant that blends West Coast casual with Texas roots, serving craft beers and chef-driven plates.
  • The Biscuit Bar: Known for its scratch-made biscuits with a wide range of toppings, as well as salads, desserts, and a bar menu.

The Boardwalk also hosts a range of events throughout the year, from fitness classes and farmers markets to live music and community gatherings. It’s a perfect spot to relax with friends, enjoy some lawn games, and take in the vibrant atmosphere.

Shops at Legacy and Legacy West

Shops at Legacy and Legacy West are premier areas for shopping, dining, and living in Plano. These bustling districts offer a mix of high-end boutiques, diverse restaurants, and lively nightlife options.

Both areas are not only shopping and dining destinations but also vibrant residential communities, making them dynamic places to visit any time of day.

Haggard Park

Haggard Park is a charming, 5.5-acre green space in the heart of downtown Plano. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing day out with family and friends. The park has a great playground for kids, a peaceful pond, picnic areas, and even chess boards for a fun game in the open air. There are paved paths for walking and enjoying the scenic surroundings.

One of the coolest features of Haggard Park is the historic gazebo, which you can rent for special events like weddings or birthday parties. It’s a beautiful spot that adds a touch of elegance to any gathering. The park is also home to the Interurban Railway Museum, where you can dive into Plano’s rich history with interactive exhibits. Throughout the year, Haggard Park hosts various community events like summer concerts, outdoor movies, and the lively Plano International Festival. It’s a must-visit for both locals and visitors looking to enjoy the outdoors and community spirit.

Plano Balloon Festival

Colorful hot air balloon sailing in the bright blue sky during the Plano Balloon Festival in Plano, Texas

If you’re in Plano in September, you can’t miss the Plano Balloon Festival! This annual event at Oak Point Park is one of the most exciting times of the year. Imagine dozens of colorful hot air balloons filling the sky – it’s a breathtaking sight!

The festival isn’t just about watching balloons. You can take a tethered balloon ride for an unforgettable view, enjoy live music, and check out the kids’ fun zone with rides and crafts. The Balloon Glow at night is magical, with balloons lighting up against the night sky. Plus, there’s the “High in the Texas Sky” drone show and skydiving exhibitions to keep you entertained.

Food lovers will have a blast too, with plenty of food vendors offering delicious treats. The festival is family-friendly, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s a great way to experience the vibrant community and make some fantastic memories.

ArtCentre of Plano

If you love art, the ArtCentre of Plano is a must-visit! Located in the historic Saigling House in the Downtown Plano Arts District, this vibrant venue showcases local art exhibitions and hosts various cultural events. You can enjoy a variety of rotating exhibits, from stunning paintings and intricate sculptures to unique textile art.

The ArtCentre also offers fun art classes and workshops, making it a great spot to unleash your creativity. Don’t miss the beautiful sculpture garden, perfect for a relaxing stroll. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so swing by and soak up some amazing art!

Interurban Railway Museum

A room inside the Interurban Railway Museum
A room inside the Interurban Railway Museum

Step back in time at the Interurban Railway Museum! This cool historical museum is located in Haggard Park and is housed in a restored 1908 railway station. It’s packed with interactive exhibits about the Texas Electric Railway, which used to connect Plano to Dallas and other areas.

One of the highlights is the restored rail car, where you can see what travel was like in the early 1900s. The museum is super kid-friendly, with educational programs and story times that make learning fun. It’s open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Best of all, it’s free!

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

The Nature & Retreat Center at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas

If you’re looking for a nature escape in Plano, Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve is the place to be. Spanning over 800 acres, this is the largest park in Plano, offering a mix of outdoor adventures. You can explore more than 8 miles of paved and soft-surface trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The park’s scenic beauty includes a 16-acre lake where you can fish or kayak, and wide open meadows ideal for a peaceful stroll or a picnic.

Oak Point also features the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course, where you can enjoy zip-lining and treetop obstacles. The park’s amphitheater hosts various events, adding to its vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil walk or an exciting outdoor activity, Oak Point has something for everyone.

Downtown Plano Arts District

Downtown Plano Arts District
Downtown Plano Arts District

The Downtown Plano Arts District is the cultural heart of Plano. This lively area is packed with art galleries, performance venues, and unique shops. You can catch live music, theater performances, and art exhibits, making it an excellent spot for a fun and artsy day out.

Stroll through the district to discover charming boutiques and delicious dining options. With its historic buildings and vibrant street art, the Arts District is not just a hub for culture, but also a perfect place for a casual walk. The area regularly hosts festivals and events, ensuring there’s always something exciting happening. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the artistic and cultural side of Plano.

Conclusion

Plano, Texas, is a vibrant city with a rich mix of history, culture, and outdoor beauty. From the colorful adventures at the Crayola Experience and the historic charm of the Texas Pool to the cultural delights at the ArtCentre of Plano and the scenic views at the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, there’s something for everyone.

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