McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (2024)

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.

Understand[edit]

McAllen has grown rapidly over the past century. In 1910 the population was about 150. The city now has a population exceeding 130,000. Over 85% of the city's population is Hispanic or Latino; almost everyone is bilingual to some degree. 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 has warm winter weather and a 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 the "season" for McAllen, and the time with most of the social activities, many planned especially for Winter Texans.

McAllen is a popular birders destination. There are dozens of birding spots in the McAllen area, including the World Birding Center, a complex of 9 sites dedicated to wildlife watching. 528 bird species and over 300 butterfly species have been recorded in the area.

McAllen is surrounded by several medium size towns and cities. These cities are interconnected and 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).

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 McAllen-Miller International Airport (MFE IATA), 2500 S Bicentennial Blvd #100 (2mi (3.2km) south of downtown via S 10th St (TX-336) & Wichita Ave; Exit 142 from Interstate 2), +1 956-682-910. It is serviced or will be serviced by:. McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (1) McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (2) (updated May 2022)

For travelers not renting a car click here for a list of taxi companies and their rates. Otherwise there is the McAllen Metro #4 bus to go into town as the least expensive way.

The next nearest commercial airport in the US with Delta (to Minneapolis St Paul), Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country is in Harlingen Valley International Airport, 45 min east on I-2/US 83. Both United & American/American Eagle serve the area through Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen from their respective hubs in Houston and Dallas-Ft Worth. VivaAerobus flies into Reynosa's Gen Lucio Blanca International Airport (REX) and through Monterrey International Airport (MTY) from multiple cities in Mexico. Monterrey is also served by Areus, Aeromexico, Mexicana, TAR, and Volaris from multiple cities in Mexico as well as international flights from Atlanta (Delta), Madrid (Aeromexico), Panama City (Copa), Toronto (Air Canada), and Seoul (to resume August 1, 2024 with Aeromexico).

By train[edit]

There is no passenger rail service or Amtrak Thruway connections to McAllen. However, you can take Amtrak to San Antonio and connect via bus to McAllen.

By bus[edit]

The 2 Central Bus Station on 1500-1501 W US Business 83 serves as a bus station for:

  • McAllen Metro. McAllen Metro operates local public transportation around on 9 routes from the Central Bus station. The #4 bus connects the airport to the bus station (updated Apr 2024)
  • Greyhound, Greyhound Mexico, Valley Transit. Connects McAllen to Downtown Houston (via Edinburg, Corpus Cristi, Victoria and Houston Agencia de Autobuses) on one route and to San Antonio (via Kingsville and Corpus Cristi) on another route. Going south Greyhound Mexico goes to their own station in Monterrey via Reynosa. (updated Apr 2024)
  • Omnibus Mexicanos, OMex VIP. Omnibus Mexicanos goes towards San Luis Potosi via Gen Bravo, China, Montemorelos, and Matahuela. Some of their buses are routed through Monterey and then down towards San Luis Potosi via Matahuela. Check schedules on website. (updated Apr 2024)
  • Lineas Panamericana. Bus to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon in Mexico,. (updated Apr 2024)

By car[edit]

  • 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,

Get around[edit]

26°12′18″N 98°14′30″W

Map of McAllen

By car[edit]

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.

By taxi[edit]

Several taxi companies serve McAllen. Customers should call ahead to arrange a pick up.

By bus[edit]

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.

Walking/biking[edit]

McAllen has several hike and bike trails that run north and south.

See[edit]

Attractions[edit]

  • 1 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. McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (9) McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (10) (updated Jan 2022)
  • 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.
  • 2 Veterans War Memorial of Texas, 3129 Galveston Ave, +1 956-631-2511. McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (11) McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (12) (updated Jan 2022)

Museums[edit]

Do[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. Has concerts throughout the year. Concerts usually held at the McAllen Convention Center.
  • 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.
  • 1 Fireman's Park, 201 N. 1st St. Has a relaxing lagoon to view or walk around.
  • 2 McAllen Nature Center, 4101 West, US-83 BUS, +1 956 681-3333. Tu-Th, Sa 8AM-6PM; F 8AM-Noon. Local fauna and flora exhibit. (updated Jan 2022)

Learn[edit]

Public Libraries[edit]

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.

Buy[edit]

Convention Center 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.

  • La Plaza Mall, 2200 S 10th St, +1 956- 687-5251. This is a large, very popular mall near the airport. Department stores include Dillard's, Macy's, and JCPennys. McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (15) McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (16) (updated Jan 2022)
  • Earth Born Market, 4508 N Taylor Rd, +1 956-682-2980. 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.

Eat[edit]

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. Many restaurants serve meals featuring organic, locally grown products, and you will find a variety of live music featured in many establishments.

Budget[edit]

  • Dai Tung, 400 E Nolana Ave. Nicely priced Chinese Menu, with lunch specials mid-week.
  • Le Lai Eastern Restaurant, 2901 N 10th St. Cheap lunches.
  • Lotus Inn Chinese Restaurant, 1120 N 10th St. As close to real Chinese food as you will find.
  • 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 Pecan Ave, +1 956 668-1660. (updated May 2017)
  • El Pato. This is a local favorite, serving made-to-order burritos

Mid-range[edit]

  • 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.
  • Hop Tung, 4200 N 10th St. Chinese and Vietnamese food.
  • Kumori Sushi and Teppanyaki, 1424 E Ridge Rd. Two additional locations at 400 E Nolana Ave, and 4500 N 10th St. Japanese food.
  • Mama's Pizzeria, 401 N 10th St. Chicago style pizza.
  • Palenque Grill, La Plaza Mall, 2200 S 10th Sr. 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.

Splurge[edit]

  • 1 Santa Fe Steakhouse, 1918 S 10th St, +1 956-630-2331. Steakhouse and cantina. (updated Feb 2016)
  • 2 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. (updated Feb 2016)
  • 3 The Patio on Guerra, 116 S 17th St, +1 956-661-9100. American and Mexican dishes. (updated Feb 2016)
  • 4 El Divino Dining & co*cktails, 5001 N 10th St, +1 956-627-3990. In the Entertainment District, American cuisine. (updated Feb 2016)

Drink[edit]

Entertainment District[edit]

McAllen has a lively entertainment district in downtown along 17th Street. There are many bars and nightclubs in the area.

  • The Flying Walrus, 204 S 17th St, +1 956-627-0211. Pizza and drinks and live music with an outdoor stage.

Other Downtown Spots[edit]

  • 1 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. (updated Feb 2016)
  • 2 Roosevelt's at Seven, 821 N Main St, +1 956-928-1994. Specializes in a wide variety of beers from around the world. (updated Feb 2016)

Other Night Spots[edit]

  • 3 Eddy's Tavern & Social McAllen, 400 W Nolana Ave STE G, +1 956-687-8296. Large pool hall and sports bar.
  • 4 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. (updated May 2017)

Sleep[edit]

McAllen has 40 hotels and over 3,300 rooms, ranging from full-service to budget.

Splurge[edit]

Consulates[edit]

The Central American consulates are next to each other within the same building, SE of the intersection of S Broadway and Galveston Ave W. The Mexican consulate is a block north towards Fresno Ave next to a medical clinic. Except for the Mexican consulates the others don't have their own website so the url links (to Facebook) are pointed to the next major consulate in Houston if available:

  • McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (17) El Salvador, 701 S Broadway St (SE corner of the intersection of Broadway and Galveston.), +1-956-800-1365. M-F 8AM-4PM, appointment required. Click here to make appointment online.
  • McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (18) Guatemala, 705 S Broadway St (Across street from McAllen city hall on Broadway. Entrance next door to El Salvador's consulate in the same building.), +1-956-429-3413. M-F 8AM-4:30PM.
  • McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (19) Honduras, 1209 Galveston Ave W (Entrance towards the back of the building from Broadway along Galveston Ave, next to alley.), +1-956-627-3172. M-W & F 9AM-5PM; Th 9AM-3:30PM.
  • McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (20) Mexico, 600 S Broadway St (S Broadway St & Fresno Ave in downtown), +1-956-686-0243. M-F 9AM-5PM By appointment only. Mexico maintains additional consulates in Brownsville, Houston, San Antonio, and Laredo

Go next[edit]

Get on 23rd Street and go south about 17 miles to Reynosa, Mexico.

Get on US 83 and go east 35 miles to Harlingen, TX.

Get on US 83 and go east 59 miles to Brownsville, TX.

Get on US 83 and go east 51 miles until you get to TX 100. Then take TX 100 east about 23 miles to South Padre Island. It will take you a total of 80 miles to get to this location.

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 148 miles to Laredo, TX.

Routes through McAllen

LaredoMissionWMcAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (21)McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (22)EHarlingenBrownsville
San AntonioAliceNMcAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (23)EBrownsvilleEND
This city travel guide to McAllen is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.
McAllen – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (2024)
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