Mcallen Texas (Bio Diversity + Low Costs)

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Cities and Texas are well known for their warm climate and rich cultures, but Mcallen offers intricate opportunities for settlers and tourists alike.

Due to the many natural attractions and proximity to the border, Mcallen has a strong bicultural community and celebrates different traditions. Tourists travel from all over to experience the nature reserves’ rich biodiversity and bird life. Moreover, the low cost of living and the low crime rate are huge benefits for permanent residents.

Cityscape of McAllen - Texas View
Cityscape of Mcallen, TX. This view is on 2nd and Ridge Road in McAllen. – Photo by Anthony Acosta

About Mcallen Texas

Mcallen Texas is a vibrant metropolitan area and ranks fifth in the list of most populous metropolitan areas in Texas and 22nd as the most populous city. As a result, many attractions like retail, tourism, manufacturing, and international trade draw people toward the city.

Mcallen was a town site company formed by John Mcallen, in 1904, with his sons and acquaintances. Originally, divided between west and east Mcallen, it merged into one area in 1911, which became well known for its agricultural ventures including cotton, alfalfa, corn, figs, and grapes.

To this day, Mcallen is a well-known agricultural area in ‘the valley,’ which is deemed quieter and more relaxing than the neighboring towns and has also been nicknamed the ‘city of palms.’

Facts About Mcallen

  • Location: At the lower Rio Grande Valley on the border of Mexico & The United States.
  • County: Hidalgo County
  • Land Area: 62.31 square mile/ 161.37 square kilometer
  • Zipcodes: 78501-78504
  • Population: 142 210 (2020 census)
  • Crime rate: 2 015.6 per 100 000 people
  • Average Temperature June: 87.7 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Average Temperature January: 62.8 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Universities: Texas A&M higher education center McAllen, McAllen Fort University
  • Airports: McAllen International Airport
  • Best hotels: The Wyndham Garden at La Plaza Mall, La Quinta Inn & Suites By Wyndham
  • Best Restaurants: SALT New America Table, Santa Fe Steakhouse & Cantina
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What’s Mcallen Known For?

For tourists, the mild winters and major flyways are noteworthy attractions of the city. Due to its proximity to the Rio Grande Valley, Mcallen has pleasant winter climates making it a preferred vacation destination for many Americans from the north as well as Canadians.

  • In addition, tourists from all over travel to Mcallen for sightings of birds and butterflies as it’s located in the major flyway zone in their migration path between North and South America.
  • Mcallen is a vibrant and major shopping district with the largest mall in the south of Texas, The La Plaza, attracting many people for regular and specialized purchases.
  • For permanent residents, Mcallen offers a low cost of living compared to the neighboring cities and shows increasing economic growth.

Where is Mcallen?

Mcallen is located on the very edge of the Rio Grande Valley, meaning it borders Mexico. It is in the southern part of Hidalgo County and north of Reynosa. The latitude is 26.203407, and the longitude is -98.230011, with the GPS coordinates being 26⁰ 12’ 12.2652” N & 98⁰ 13’ 48.0396” W.

Nearby Locations

  • Pharr = 2.94 miles away
  • San Juan = 4.74 miles away
  • Lopezville = 4.97 miles away
  • Mission = 5.97 miles away
  • Granjeno = 6.63 miles away

The furthest place in the vicinity to visit is Palmview which is 8.97 miles from Mcallen and Hidalgo is only a mere 7.41 miles away. The closest main cities are San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, 223.16, 282.40, and 301.46 miles away, respectively.

Layout Of Mcallen

Interstate 2 and U.S. 83 travel through the south of downtown McAllen. When facing north at the S 10th street cross (336) from the U.S. 83, Edinburgh is north, Pharr is east, Reynosa is south, and Mission is west.

The international airport is also situated between the Boeye Reservoir and the birding center, with the La plaza Mall directly in the front when facing north.

Areas In Mcallen

Some of the most popular areas in McAllen Include the following:

  • Fairway Grande
  • Royal Oak estate
  • Country club Terrace
  • Westway avenue
  • Hackberry creek

What To Do In Mcallen

Mcallen is a vibrant area with various significant events and continuous annual entertainment. There are constant entertainment forms like art galleries and studios to museums, as well as live orchestral music and theatre shows. Major events like the ‘McAllen holiday parade’ and the winter festival ‘Frio’ attract many tourists each year.

The following are among the most popular continuous attractions of McAllen:

  • Watching birds and wildlife at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Over 2000 acres in size, tourists can enjoy hundreds of different species of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies while strolling through ponds filled with indigenous plants.
  • The international museum of art and science is also a major attraction as it has the country’s most extensive collection of art about Mexican folk traditions.  
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Bird Watching Along The Rio Grande Valley

The world birding center offers tours to all the major parks for bird sightings, including the Quinta Mazatlan, Bentsen – Rio Grand Valley state park, and the McAllen nature center.

The partnerships between the wildlife departments, Texas parks, and the Rio Grande valley communities make it possible to travel along the famous 120-mile river exploring different birding sites.

Bars And Clubs

From Popular franchises like La Costa Grill to exclusive cocktail bars like the Cantina Lomax, there are countless options to choose from for an entertaining night out. Famous spots like the Havana club and grill, Cine El Rey, and the Flying Walrus also provide live music and dancing opportunities.

Experience The Arts And Culture

Whether you want to explore new trends in the art industry or even challenge yourself with creating artwork, the Charles & Dorothy Clark Gallery and the art studio by design are ideal venues to visit.

For those who prefer live performance art, the performing arts center and the valley symphony orchestra have many shows throughout the year.

The Holiday Parade

The largest award-winning illuminated parade in Texas is a major attraction each year. In December, you can enjoy carnival activities, live music, and festival food.

The parade religiously includes illuminated floats and massive cartoon balloons and has a long list of participatory celebrities, including famous sports stars and hosts.

The MXLAN Event

For those who want to experience Mexican traditions and cultural roots, look no further than the MXLAN five-day event. This summer art and music festival is filled with street parades, performers, and dancers, has culinary spots, a music stage with new talent, and many fun competitions.

Where To Eat in Mcallen

Besides famous franchises that can be found all over Texas, the following are a few restaurants that are unique to McAllen:

  • Bodega Tavern source locally produced ingredients and adapt its menus to reflect the rich culture of the Rio Grande Valley.
  • El Divino creates fresh juices and syrups for their quality cocktails, and the famous chef Eugenio creates gourmet menus for each season utilizing the freshest meats and ingredients.
  • Although the continental club is much more famous for its location than its cuisine, it’s a speakeasy in the center of historic downtown McAllen worth visiting. It’s a protected and endangered building renovated in 2002 to capture the essence of the 1920 architecture.
  • For more traditional Mexican cuisine, Pancho’s prepares menus depending on the freshest ingredients available and caters for any event, including parties, weddings, or even business outings.
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Where To Stay in Mcallen

The following hotels are the most popular destinations in McAllen with the most and highest ratings:

  • The Wyndham Garden at La Plaza Mall is conveniently situated very close to the international airport, the famous La Plaza mall, and the convention center. With an available shuttle option at regulated times, restaurants and nightlife options are easily accessible.
  • The Embassy Suites By Hilton is only three miles from the airport and walking distance from palms crossing shops and the convention center.
  • The best western rose garden inn & Suites provides comfortable accommodations at great rates. Located near expressway 83, it’s close to popular bird-watching nature sites and centers, local events, and concerts.

Mcallen FAQs

Does McAllen Have A Car Festival?

Besides the continuous attractions throughout the year, popular annual festivals attract thousands of people to take road trips to McAllen. The McAllen Carfest displays’ over 300 cars ranging from antiques to futuristic cars and everything in between. The 2023 festival will be the 13th show and will include different vendors and live music.

Is McAllen Cheaper Than Other Texas Cities?

Although some areas, like the royal oak estate, can become more expensive, the McAllen areas are pretty cheap compared to other cities in Texas, and the cost of living is approximately 15% lower than the national average. Generally speaking, it’s one of the safest areas in Texas, with proper amenities at an affordable rate.


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Christian Linden Texas View Headshot 3 - Texas View
Author at Texas View | Texas View

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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